AACN to Honor 14 Acute and Critical Care Nurses With 2019 Circle of Excellence Award

Award recognizes nurses who achieve excellent outcomes in the care of acutely and critically ill patients and their families


Newswise — Mentor. Advocate. Innovator. Problem-solver. Champion. Leader. Educator. Caregiver. Change Agent. Role Model. A Nurse’s Nurse.

The words used to describe the 14 phenomenal nurses who will receive the Circle of Excellence award this year from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) demonstrate the high regard in which they’re held by colleagues and their commitment to achieving excellent outcomes in the care of acutely and critically ill patients and their families. They will receive the prestigious award during AACN’s National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI), Orlando, May 20-23.

Recipients of the 2019 Circle of Excellence award from AACN are, in alphabetical order by state:

  • Dawn A. Cooper, MS, RN, CCRN, CCNS -- Yale New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut           
  • Carolina Flores-Gopez, MSN, MHA, RN, CCRN, NE-BC -- Christiana Care Health System, Newark, Delaware        
  • John R. Lunde, DNP, AGAC/FNP-BC, FCCM -- ICC Healthcare, Orange Park, Florida
  • Georgia H. Tucker, RN, BSN, CCRN, TCRN, CMSRN -- Augusta Medical Center, Augusta, Georgia           
  • Jessica Jones, MSN, RN, CCRN, CNML -- IU Health Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis
  • Kimberly V. Kelly, BSN, MBA, CCRN-K -- Suburban Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland
  • Katie Circo, BSN, RN -- Nebraska Medicine, Omaha
  • Sherley John, MSN, RN, CCRN -- North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, New York        
  • Amanda D. Gress, RN, CCRN -- Duke Regional Hospital, Durham, North Carolina
  • Amelia A. Wright, RN, CCRN -- Duke Regional Hospital, Durham, North Carolina
  • Pamela E. Garlinghouse, BSN, RN, CCRN -- The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus
  • Brooke L. Mlnarich, BSN, BA, RN, CCRN -- Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, Pennsylvania
  • Alvin D. Jeffery, PhD, RN-BC, CCRN-K, FNP-BC -- Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Beth V. Vaughn, DNP, RN, CNRN, SCRN, CCRN-CMC -- Medical Center Plano, Plano, Texas

Criteria used to evaluate Circle of Excellence award candidates include relentless promotion of patient-driven excellence; communication skills; true collaboration; effective decision making; meaningful recognition of others; ability to transform thinking, structures and processes; and ability to address challenges and remove barriers to excellent patient care and achieve visible results through leadership.

AACN President Lisa Riggs, MSN, APRN-BC, CCRN-K, system director regulatory readiness at Saint Luke's Health System, Kansas City, Missouri, praises the efforts of the caregivers who are selected for the Circle of Excellence award.

“These healthcare professionals exemplify why AACN is a community of exceptional nurses. Their efforts are transforming healthcare and shaping the future of nursing practice within their units, in the classroom, and throughout their organizations and their communities,” Riggs said. “Circle of Excellence recipients use their voice, skills and knowledge to ensure that every patient gets the excellent care they deserve and that every nurse has the tools and the skills they need to provide that care.”

AACN’s Circle of Excellence award aligns with the association’s mission of creating a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution.

Highly regarded for its responsiveness to current trends in the nursing profession and the environments where nurses work, the award is supported by grants from Elsevier and Dale Medical. Awardees receive a plaque and a $1,000 honorarium to attend NTI.

About the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition: Established in 1974, AACN’s National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI) represents the world’s largest educational conference and trade show for nurses who care for acutely and critically ill patients and their families. Bedside nurses, nurse educators, nurse managers, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners attend NTI.

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: Founded in 1969 with 400 members, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the world’s largest specialty nursing organization. In 2019, AACN celebrates 50 years of acute and critical care nursing excellence, serving more than 120,000 members and over 200 chapters in the United States. The organization remains committed to its vision of creating a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. During its 50th anniversary year, AACN continues to salute and celebrate all that nurses have accomplished over the last half century, while honoring their past, present and future impact on the evolution of high-acuity and critical care nursing.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 101 Columbia, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4109;

949-362-2000; www.aacn.org; facebook.com/aacnface; twitter.com/aacnme

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