Grad. nursing chairperson earns Fellowship

Kristin Kovalsky, News Reporter

Winona State University’s department chair of graduate nursing, Sonja Meiers, has been selected as an American Academy Nursing Fellow.
Meiers was inducted into the Academy along with other Fellows via a virtual ceremony on Oct. 31.
In a press release, the American Academy of Nursing stated, “the newest Fellows represent 38 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territory of Guam, as well as 13 countries. The Academy is currently comprised of more than 2,700 nursing leaders who are experts in policy, research, administration, practice and academia that champion health and wellness, locally and globally.”
Meiers said that the induction into the Academy is just the start to this prestigious award.
“The induction just is the start of what my official work will be with the Academy,” Meiers said. “It’s not just an honorary induction, it’s an induction with expectations that you will continue to contribute to nursing and nursing education through the work that we do.”
Meiers was nominated for the Fellowship by her colleagues.
“I had not sought to do this, it was very much encouraged by my colleagues who are also Academy members and they were then able to sponsor me,” Meiers said. “I have always sought to lead in nursing and to lead others so that we can do everything we do, better.”
The application process for the Fellowship required Meiers to articulate the work she has done throughout her career and how it created outcomes for the nursing field.
“They [the Academy] look at outcomes of your work, not just that you’ve done the work, but that there are outcomes that you can demonstrate from the work,” Meiers said. “I felt that was the most challenging part of the application – to truly take stock of what I had done and how what I had done had resulted in outcomes in terms of health, health policy, access to healthcare [and] access to education, particularly in Minnesota, but also globally.”
As a Fellow, Meiers has to promote health and be an advocate for health.
She said that throughout her career, she has always participated in advocacy in the nursing field.
“It’s no different than what I’ve always done,” Meiers said “To promote health, to advance health, to make sure everyone has equal access to care; those are the things that I have been dedicated to for a very long time.”
As a Fellow, Meiers also has the responsibility to be a part of an expert panel.
“The expectation of the Fellow is that we will be called upon to be on expert panels for our governmental agencies, making decisions on health policy, health equity, healthcare access and healthcare quality,” Meiers said.
Meiers’ work has been focused on family care since 2002.
“There is a particular expert panel on maternal and family health, that’s the one that I hope to be working with,” Meiers said.
In addition to her work with family care, she has completed work with immigrant and refugee health.
“There’s some other work that I have done with immigrant and refugee health to help address health disparities for persons for whom this is not their country of origin,” Meiers said. “I would hope to contribute to policy that enhances immigrant and refugee help.”
One specific characteristic that the Academy looks for in potential Fellows is leadership.
Dean for college of nursing and health sciences, Julie Anderson, said that Meiers is an example of great leadership.
“Dr. Meiers is a true leader in the nursing profession and the tripartite mission of higher education – teaching, service and research,” Anderson said.
At Winona State, Meiers has worked to promote diversity and inclusivity in the nursing program.
“Dr. Meiers works to create an inclusive educational environment for learners at Winona State as well as an inclusive healthcare environment for the communities we serve through our graduate nursing program,” Anderson said.
Meiers said that it is a privilege to be a nurse and now to be a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.
“I really feel privileged to be able to be a person within nursing that can move health and healthy equity causes forward,” Meiers said.