Nurses Hone Clinical, Leadership Skills at AAACN Conference

American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing celebrates 39th Annual Conference, gives awards

Ambulatory care nurses from across the country gathered for the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN) 39th Annual Conference, an outstanding education program that took place May 19–22 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Nearly 700 attendees advanced their practice and leadership skills with clinical, management, and leadership sessions. Hot topics this year included evidence-based practice, shared decision making to improve outcomes, easing care transitions, and improving satisfaction.

Pre-conference workshops and educational opportunities demonstrated to the nurses in attendance how caring for oneself has a direct impact on the quality of care one provides, safety in practice, and job satisfaction.

The Town Hall meeting, always a popular feature of the conference, focused on ambulatory care nursing sensitive indicators, which will help strengthen the value of nursing in ambulatory practice settings by defining benchmarks to improve outcomes for patients. Attendees learned about the work of AAACN’s Nurse Sensitive Indicator Task Force and had the opportunity to share best practices via the open forum. Finally, more than 100 nurses prepared for certification with the Ambulatory Care Nursing Certification Review Course.

“As healthcare continues to move from inpatient to outpatient settings, workforce projections support the need for more nurses in outpatient settings,” AAACN president Marianne Sherman, MS, RN-BC, said. “Defining those roles and establishing the importance of the role of the RN in these settings is vital to our profession. This is a time for nurse leaders to step forward and establish that ambulatory nurses are vital to the quality of patient care.”

Conference Highlights: At the meeting, Sherman was inducted as the 2014–2015 AAACN president. Sherman is director of Nursing and Professional Standards for Ambulatory at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado.

Attendees enjoyed a humorous look at what is needed to survive in healthcare today from Donna Wright, MS, RN, who gave the keynote address on leadership and resiliency. Donna shared strategies and tools meant to help everyone in healthcare reach the outcomes they desire.

Attendees networked with colleagues, met with vendors in the packed exhibit hall, and viewed seventy-one poster presentations. The Silent Auction on Tuesday, May 20, raised over $5,000 for the AAACN scholarship and research grant program.

Awards and Scholarships: The following awards were presented at the conference:

  • President’s Above and Beyond Award (highest award, given to an individual who exceeds the expectations of a volunteer role): Kathy Mertens, RN, MN, MPH, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, Washington.
  • Excellence Awards (sponsored by the Anthony J. Jannetti, Inc., Nursing Economic$ Foundation, given to AAACN members who personify administrative and clinical excellence in ambulatory care):
    • Administrative Excellence Award: Cecilia G. Fowler, BSN, RN, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, Houston, Texas.
    • Clinical Excellence Award:  Kellie A. Johnson, Lt Col, USAF, NC, 10th Medical Group, USAF Academy.
  • 2013 ViewPoint Writer’s Award (given for the outstanding article published in the association’s official newsletter, ViewPoint): Barbara Weber, MS, RN-BC, and Anne Hammer, BA, BSN, RN, from Denver Health were recognized for their article, “From Chaos to Control: Implementation of Mass Influenza Immunization Clinics,” published in the September/October 2013 issue.
  • Education Scholarship: Jenny Richardson, MS, RN, CNS-BC, Portland VA Medical Center, Beaverton, Oregon.
  • Research Grant: Susan M. Brennan, RN, CPN, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, for her research entitled Outcomes of Cultural Change and Fever Teaching Intervention in a Pediatric Primary Care Setting.
  • Conference Scholarships (two presented to provide financial assistance to attend the AAACN conference):
    • Dedria Renee Tuck, BSN, RN-BC, CPN, Carilion Clinic Family Medicine, Roanoke, Virginia.
    • Patricia A. White, RN, BSN, CPN, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Certification Scholarship Named for Candia Baker Laughlin: The first recipient of the $1,000 Candia Baker Laughlin Certification Scholarship was Janice Mills, MPsSc, RN-BC, of Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania. The scholarship covers the exam fee, study materials, and other expenses related to achieving certification.

Online Library: Full conference attendees have indefinite online access to conference recordings and handouts in the AAACN Online Library ( In addition, conference registration for each attendee includes Online Library access for two colleagues. Nurses who were unable to attend the conference can purchase access to the full conference in the Online Library, or they can purchase individual sessions at the end of July.

For more information about accessing conference content, visit

2015 Conference: The AAACN 40th Annual Conference will be held April 15–18, 2015, at the Hilton Orlando, Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Poster abstracts are now being accepted.

For more information, visit, call800-262-6877, or email

[From the Aug/Sep 2014 issue of AnswerStat magazine]