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

The words that describe the 15 phenomenal nurses who 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 their colleagues and their commitment to achieving excellent outcomes in the care of acutely and critically ill patients and their families.

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 Megan Brunson praises the efforts of the caregivers who were 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,” Brunson said. “I’m proud to recognize the Circle of Excellence recipients for being truly Unstoppable. Their efforts ensure that every patient gets the excellent care they deserve and that every nurse has the skills they need to provide that care.”

Recipients of the 2020 AACN Circle of Excellence award (in alphabetical order):

  • Emily Beckwith, UCSD Medical Center Hillcrest, San Diego
  • Kelly Drumright, VA Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Susan Fowler, Orlando Health, Florida
  • Rosalie Grantoza, Raritan Bay Medical Center, Old Bridge, New Jersey
  • Nathalee Grue, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City
  • Serena Kelly, OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, Portland, Oregon
  • Mary LaMartina, Kenmore Mercy Hospital, Kenmore, New York
  • Kayline Martinez, El Camino Hospital, Mountain View, California
  • Brooke McLaughlin, UNC Health Care, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • James Miller Jr., Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  • Dannette Mitchell, Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Delaware
  • Lauren Morata, Lakeland Regional Health, Florida
  • Karen Nigra, UPMC Presbyterian, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
  • Jamie Roney, Covenant Health, Lubbock, Texas
  • Laryssa Thompson, Duke Regional Hospital, Durham, North Carolina

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.

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: For more than 50 years, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has been dedicated to acute and critical care nursing excellence. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. AACN is the world's largest specialty nursing organization, with more than 120,000 members and over 200 chapters in the United States.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 27071 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656; 949-362-2000;;;