Nursing faculty member to lead national pediatric nurse association

Dawn Garzon Maaks, clinical professor, WSU Vancouver College of Nursing.

By Addy Hatch, College of Nursing

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Dawn Garzon Maaks, a clinical professor at the Washington State University Vancouver College of Nursing will become president of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners on July 1.

The organization, based in New York City, has more than 9,000 members who are pediatric nurse practitioners and pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses.

Garzon Maaks has been a member of the organization known as NAPNAP since 1995.

Mental health, youth suicide

During her one-year term as president, she said she hopes to focus on mental health and youth suicide, among other topics.

“People are becoming more and more aware that we’re having a mental health crisis in this country,” Garzon Maaks said.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 34, topped only by death from unintentional injury, such as car accidents.

“We recognized in the 1970s and 80s that we had to address automobile accidents, so we redesigned our roads and cars and put laws in place to require seatbelts,” Garzon Maaks said. “We changed people’s behavior, and now we have fewer people dying from car accidents in 2018 than we did in 1998.”

It’s time to bring that same comprehensive approach to mental health and suicide prevention, she believes.

Childhood trauma, abuse

She also plans to use the next year talking about the long-term, negative effects of childhood trauma and abuse, and hopes to raise the profile of nurses in public discussions of health care and mental health.

Garzon Maaks has worked in pediatric primary care for nearly 25 years, much of that time specializing in pediatric mental health. She has concurrently worked in nursing education for 20 years.

Her research interests include improving child and family health outcomes in primary care settings, improving the primary care management of pediatric mental health disorders, and preschool injury prevention. She also has advocated for the roles of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and nurse practitioners in health care.

“The beauty of what we do as pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses is provide that developmentally grounded perspective to the care of children and families, in whatever setting they need regardless of what types of health care they need,” Garzon Maaks said.

As president of NAPNAP, she added, “I really look forward to the opportunity to advocate for child health and wellness.”



  • Addy Hatch, communication director, WSU College of Nursing, 509-324-7340,

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