Newswise — The 18 nurses who receive the 2021 Circle of Excellence award from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) are noted for their solution-oriented approaches to challenges, including reducing healthcare-associated infection rates, improving work environment, and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Criteria used to evaluate Circle of Excellence award candidates include relentless promotion of patient-driven excellence; strong 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.

“During this challenging time, these healthcare professionals demonstrate an exceptional commitment to achieving excellent outcomes in the care of acutely and critically ill patients and their families,” said AACN President Elizabeth Bridges. “The Circle of Excellence recipients recognize that This Is Our Moment to embrace uncertainty and move from existing best practices to even better practices. Their efforts ensure that every patient gets the excellent care they deserve and every nurse has the skills they need to provide that care.”

Recipients of the 2021 AACN Circle of Excellence award (in alphabetical order):

  • Sonia Astle, clinical nurse specialist, Inova Fairfax Medical Campus, Falls Church, Virginia
  • Terrie Beeson, clinical nurse specialist, Indiana University Health, Indianapolis
  • Erin Colozzi Hare, nursing professional development team lead, ChristianaCare, Newark, Delaware
  • Todd Griner, executive director, critical care division, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles
  • Dawn Heath, nurse director, patient services, Hackensack Meridian Health Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune, New Jersey
  • DeAnna Hutchings, nurse manager/administrator, Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas
  • Alexander Johnson, clinical nurse specialist, Central DuPage Hospital, Northwestern Medicine, Winfield, Illinois
  • Jacob Lammers, nurse unit supervisor, Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Antoinette Lozano, registered nurse, University of Chicago Medicine
  • Lori Mayer, pediatric intensive care unit (ICU) staff nurse, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island
  • Rebecca Michael, clinical nurse IV, University of North Carolina Health, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Amber Petty, ACNP general surgery/trauma, Indiana University Health Ball Memorial Hospital, Muncie, Indiana
  • Natassia Singh, clinical nurse IV, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City
  • Edward “Ted” Stevenson, registered nurse/patient care coordinator, Munson Medical Center, Traverse City, Michigan
  • Connie Thigpen, director of critical care, Baptist Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas
  • Robin Thomas, pediatric ICU clinical resource nurse, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs
  • Sarah Wells, registered nurse, University of California San Francisco Health and John Muir Health, Oakland, California
  • Jon Whiting, director, nursing patient services medical ICU/biocontainment/life support programs, Boston Children’s Hospital

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 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: 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 130,000 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;;;