The AWC National Board of Directors is pleased to announce the 2017 Headliner Award to Patricia Anstett of the AWC Detroit Chapter.
Patricia Anstett’s 40-year career as a journalist has always exemplified the highest professional standards. Anstett is an accomplished journalist, mentor and leader who worked at major newspapers in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Detroit, including the last 22 years of her journalism career as medical writer for the Detroit Free Press. In April, 2017 she was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.
Her medical writing is respected for its accuracy, comprehensiveness, expansive reach and helpful, comforting story-telling. She broke news, told memorable stories and put the spotlight on questionable, shoddy and unethical practices in medicine that brought about important changes. Some of her most significant reporting led to improvements in the quality of mammography standards in Michigan; explained how medicine failed patients at the end-of-life as the Jack Kevorkian assisted suicide debate raged; and propelled new guidelines at the University of Michigan to guard against fraudulent expense account standards and unethical use of research money for a doctor’s private gain.
At the same time, she was a voice for change and gender equality in news coverage and hiring in her own newsroom and within journalism. She mentored more than a dozen interns, mostly minority women, and did classroom teaching around the country as an editor-in-residence at a time when largely male journalism schools were clamoring to bring more women into the classroom to talk to the growing number of women entering the field.
Always honest, courageous and thorough, she is widely recognized for reporting on health issues. Her extensive reporting on all aspects of mammography–compliance with state standards, large pricing differences, insurance reimbursement, access for Medicaid patients and funding for a state and federally-funded program that paid for free mammograms for low-income women– was distinctive, informative, relentless and meaningful.
Her stories had such an impact that failing centers closed; hospitals improved staffing and purchased new machines, including modern digital models proven to be more reliable than older ones. Former State Rep. Maxine Berman, who sponsored the 1989 legislation that created Michigan’s mammography standards and subsequent legislation to improve it, writes: “Without Pat’s unfailing interest and incisive articles, I honestly believe that my legislation may well not have passed or have been diluted into uselessness.”
Anstett retired in 2012 from the Detroit Free Press, after 30 years there, but remains fully engaged as an author in the most fulfilling mission of her career. She has written two books, including “Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction: What’s Right for You,’’ published in 2016 by Rowman & Littlefield.
Anstett has been an AWC member since her college days and has been active in chapters throughout her career. She is a past president of the AWC Detroit Chapter and was honored by this chapter with the Headliner and Diamond Awards.
Anstett will accept the AWC Headliner Award at the AWC National Professional Development Conference in Addison, TX, where she will also be the speaker at the Headliner Award luncheon on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.