Most people think of nurses only doing bedside care in hospitals. They’re in long term care, school health, home care, the policy arena and many more places. – Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FAAN (20:58-21:10)


Nurses play a very significant role, both locally and globally. Most people still think of nurses only doing bedside care in hospitals, but nurses are in home health care, school health care, the policy arena and many other places.


In this week’s episode:

  • You’ll discover the broad range of responsibilities nurses have.
  • How their highly-specialized profession continues to evolve to address the needs of society.


Part One of ‘2020: Year of the Nurse – An Interview with Ashley Darcy-Mahoney’

Ashley Darcy-Mahoney, PhD, NNP, FAAN, a neonatal nurse practitioner and researcher, has worked throughout her career to advance nursing research, education, and practice, focusing on neonatology, infant health, and developmental pediatrics. Her research has led to the creation of programs that improve health and developmental outcomes for at-risk and preterm infants.

As an Associate Professor of nursing and the Director of Infant Research at George Washington University’s Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute, Dr. Darcy-Mahoney advances the body of research in infant health and developmental outcomes in high-risk infants with a focus on understanding the early brain and development trajectories in this population. In addition to her work with the institute, she conducts interdisciplinary research through “Talk with Me Baby” a multi-agency initiative using the nursing workforce to educate parents in the importance of talking and engaging with their babies in early infancy. Her research seeks to improve early-childhood outcomes for these infants, most recently through language interventions that will enhance future literacy and cognitive development.

She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nurses, a 2017 Josiah Macy Scholar, was named among the Top 25 Pediatric Nursing Professors by and has earned numerous awards, including the 2014 March of Dimes Nurse of the Year, Florida Association of Neonatal Nurses President’s Award and the Lillian Sholtis Brunner Award for Innovation from her alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania.


“There are so many different things that you can do as a nurse. – Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FAAN (21:19-21:22)


Dr. Darcy-Mahoney and I met each other through the Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Faculty Scholars program in 2014. Let’s start with this question: why would a nurse be invited to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM)? Here’s what she has to say about it.

First, the National Academy of Sciences is the overarching bucket of where the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) sits. The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), a private, nonprofit organization of the country’s leading researchers, was given the charge and the Constitution signed by Abraham Lincoln to provide a scientific opinion to any government department. It’s a place for scientists to be non-partisan and provide data to the government to make policies grounded in science.

She also thinks that it’s one of the most exciting opportunities for data scientists, clinicians, and researchers to inform our policymakers on what and how to be making decisions based on evidence. And so, that’s what the National Academy of Sciences does.


Part Two of ‘2020: Year of the Nurse – An Interview with Ashley Darcy-Mahoney’

To give you an idea of how she started her career path, she remembers Dr. Beverly Malone, who talks about a career path as a series of zigzags rather than a winding road. She had the opportunity to be indoctrinated, or be with professors of nursing, very early on in her career. She went to Georgetown on a soccer scholarship as a Division One athlete playing in the Big East Conference.

A lot of times, she would hear athlete students ask, “Can I be a health science pre-med or pre-health professional of any capacity and still be a nursing major?” Her answer is wholehearted YES. Many excellent universities have led the way on this. It takes commitment from the student-athlete and involvement from the faculty to ensure that every student-athlete has the opportunity to be part of whatever learning experience they want.

As a sophomore, she started as a research assistant, wherein she focused on topics about men who have sex with men and HIV/ AIDS, which is pretty different than the work she’s doing now. Her perspective is — your past projects don’t have to be your last, nor does it have to be your life’s work. It just has to be something that keeps you engaged and teaches you about the process.


We need the next generation of nurses and scientists to be really strong thinkers and keen listeners. -Ashley Darcy-Mahoney PhD, NNP, FAAN (27:33-27:43)


Dr. Darcy-Mahoney is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholar. With her most recent grant from the RWJF Macy Scholar, she is pursuing outcomes research in preterm infants by comparing developmental trajectories of children raised in a bilingual environment against those raised in a monolingual environment.

According to her research regarding early childhood experiences and educational outcomes, early childhood education is crucial for many people in the United States. From a science perspective, if we provide a well-regulated and responsive environment where children can benefit from early support to build resilience, mitigate adversity and learn, it’s the best amount of money we can spend as a country.

We all know what happens in that early childhood affects the leader’s health and all other things we see in older populations right now. We are in a time where decisions for children have been challenged. So, it’s very timely that we consider what public health nursing looks like and how healthcare professionals should be educating on social determinants of health. We need the next generation of nurses and scientists to be really strong thinkers and keen listeners.

If this is something that resonates with you, is a good place to start. There are available resources for families, parents, and people in general who want to learn how the number of words a baby hears in the first three years of life makes a big difference. According to Dr. Darcy, they’ve partnered with juvenile justice systems and early educators, and it’s taken off in ways that I don’t think any of us anticipated or imagined!


How to Connect More with Ashley Darcy-Mahoney:

LinkedIn   |   Twitter   |   Instagram




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About Melissa:

Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN. I am a nurse, nurse practitioner, nurse educator and nurse researcher with over 25 years of experience in the aging and long-term care healthcare space. You can visit my website at to learn more about me, how you can work with me directly,
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Find out more about her work HERE.