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AACN executive director to receive Nurse.com Lifetime Achievement Award

Monday April 28, 2014
Geraldine Polly Bednash, RN
Geraldine Polly Bednash, RN
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Geraldine Polly Bednash, RN, PhD, FAAN, will be presented the 2014 Nurse.com Lifetime Achievement Award June 10 during Nurse.comís Nursing Excellence Awards Gala for the DC/Maryland/Virginia region.

In her roles at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing for more than a quarter century, as director of government affairs, in which she headed up the legislative and regulatory advocacy programs, and as executive director and CEO, Bednash was the driving force behind evolutionary changes in nursing education. She oversaw the educational, research, governmental affairs, publications and other programs of an organization that under her leadership became the national voice for the nationís largest healthcare profession. Representing about 400 schools of nursing early in her tenure, she grew the number to more than 700 member schools at both public and private institutions and is credited with establishing AACN as the national voice for baccalaureate and graduate nursing education. She directed AACNís efforts to secure strong federal support for nursing education and research, coordinated new initiatives with federal agencies and with major foundations and co-authored AACNís study on the financial costs to students and to clinical agencies of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education.

Before joining AACN, Bednash was assistant professor at the school of nursing at George Mason University and a Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Faculty Fellow in Primary Care at the University of Maryland. Her experience includes development of resource policy for the Geriatric Research, Evaluation, and Clinical Centers of the Veterans Administration; serving as a nurse practitioner and consultant to the family practice residency program at DeWitt Army Hospital at Fort Belvoir, Va.; and service as an Army Nurse Corps staff nurse in Vung Tau, Vietnam. Additionally, Bednash served as the first chair of the board for the Association Mutual Health Insurance Company, the first national captive insurance company developed to provide health insurance coverage for employees of higher education associations. She received her BSN from Texas Womanís University, her MSN from The Catholic University of America, and a doctorate in higher education policy and law from the University of Maryland. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and member of nursingís national honor society, Sigma Theta Tau International.

A transformational nursing leader, her body of work and personal power helped move the nursing profession forward on many fronts. She spearheaded groundbreaking work in the development of curriculum standards and competency expectations for professional nursing programs at all levels. She has been an important and notable resource for federal legislators and government agencies and a trusted advisor to leaders in Washington. Also a strong and active proponent and supporter of nursing education, over the years she was able to secure millions in grant funding to support the education and training of the next generation of nursing leaders through various initiatives including geriatric nursing education projects and the New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program. Also a strong political force on Capitol Hill and a leader of change in health professions education, Bednash was an advocate for quality improvement in patient safety. She was the chairperson of the National Alliance for Quality Care and served on the Quality Alliance Steering Committee with a commitment to shaping the national agenda on quality issues and having an impact on healthcare reform policies.

Much of her work has centered on elevating standards and enhancing the quality of patient care. As the principal investigator of the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses initiative, she worked to enhance the ability of nursing faculty to teach quality and safety content to entry-level nurses as well as current practitioners. She has reached out to the next generation of nurse researchers and policy leaders, takes every opportunity to promote greater inclusion in the profession and recognizes the importance of cross-discipline collaboration through her leadership and mentorship roles in numerous professional organizations. Under her watch, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education was launched, as well as the Commission on Nursing Certification. She has been someone who reaches out to each new generation of nurse researchers and policy leaders; someone who takes every opportunity to promote greater inclusion within the profession; and someone who recognizes the importance of cross-discipline collaboration and mentorship s in professional organizations.

Through her intellect and charisma she helped give nurses a seat at the tablĒ when it came to discussions about nursingís critical role in providing quality care, the need to remove scope of practice restrictions and the importance of facilitating academic progression in nursing are discussed.

Bednash currently serves as chair of the Nursing Alliance for Quality Care, as member of the Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions and as member of the Quality Alliance Steering Committee. Additionally, she has been appointed to the Secretaryís Academic Affiliations Council of the Veteranís Administration. Having served on multiple boards and commissions including the board of the Friends of the National Library of Medicine, the advisory board for the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nursing Associations scholar development project, the Sullivan Commission on Diversity in the Health Professions, she is also on the editorial boards of several leading nursing publications. She also serves on the Advisory Board for the National Center for the Analysis of Health Care Data. Her publications and research presentations cover a range of critical issues in nursing education, research, clinical practice and legislative policy.

Her senior director of education policy, Joan Stanley, RN, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP, said that in working with Bednash she saw firsthand how her intellect and charisma helped involve nurses in discussions about nursingís critical role in providing quality care, removing scope of practice restrictions and facilitating academic progression in nursing. She believes that when Bednash retires, the profession will lose one its most outspoken advocates for nurse-led healthcare innovations and inter-professional engagement.


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