Excellence and Innovation in Teaching Award Winners

AACN Excellence and Innovation in Teaching Award recognizes excellence and innovation in the teaching of nursing at AACN member schools by faculty with more than five years of teaching experience. Faculty who teach in didactic and/or clinical settings will be considered for this award.

2020 Call for Nominations will open in October 2019.

Congratulations to the 2019 Award Recipient!

Jaime Hannans, PhD, RN
California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo, California

Dr. Hannans is committed to creating meaningful learning experiences for students. These learning experiences encompass a wide-range of activities that she has integrated into theory and clinical courses including digital storytelling, use of infographics and mixed and virtual reality. Dr. Hannans serves as a role model for other faculty as we strive to identify new high-impact learning practices that will enhance student learning and the educational experience.

Jaime Hannans, PhD, RN, CNE is an Associate Professor of Nursing at California State University Channel Islands. Dr. Hannans obtained her BSN and MSN from California State University, Chico, and PhD from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Dr. Hannans has been teaching nursing clinical, classroom, and lab courses at California State University Channel Islands since January 2009, with additional experience teaching on-ground and online courses at other Associate and MSN programs. With over 19 years critical care and float pool clinical experience, Dr. Hannans teaches medical-surgical, gerontology, and critical care content. Dr. Hannans has received numerous awards including the California State University Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award 2018 for her work exploring and sharing innovative teaching and learning practices, including projects related to digital badges, open educational resources, open courses, digital storytelling, extended reality (augmented, virtual and mixed), and best practices in online and blended teaching-learning. Her commitment to student success, particularly for low-income first-generation students, is highlighted by her role as the California State University Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) Campus Co-Coordinator. Her involvement in this program has allowed Channel Islands to be the first California State University campus to designate no-cost courses on the schedule of classes, and, the first to offer three Z-Majors where students have a pathway to complete the required courses in the major without textbook or course materials costs, leading to over two million dollars of student savings for textbook costs. 

2018 Recipient
Ann Marie P. Mauro, PhD, RN
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, NJ

MauroDr. Ann Marie P. Mauro is Associate Dean, Professor, and Director for the Center for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, School of Nursing. In her CERI role, Dr. Mauro provides leadership for the promotion of teaching and learning excellence, collaborations in interprofessional education, and advancement of nursing education science. She also oversees two associated centers for teaching and learning excellence: the Center for Clinical Learning and Center for Professional Development. A nationally recognized leader, Dr. Mauro is a National League for Nursing Board of Governors member, the Eastern Nursing Research Society President-Elect, an American Heart Association Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing Council Development Committee member, and a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and New York Academy of Medicine. She is a certified nurse educator and clinical nurse leader whose educational innovations have led to increasing nursing workforce diversity and inclusive excellence in academic settings.

2017 Recipient
Nancy Edwards, PhD, ANP, RN
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Dr. Nancy Edwards an Associate Professor, as well as the Assistant Head for Graduate Programs and Director, Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Program. Dr. Edward’s research is focused on developing efficient and effective non-pharmacologic care protocols for older adults with neuroprogressive diseases. She implements interventions such as environmental enrichment utilizing Animal Assisted therapy and chair-based exercise programs among frail persons with dementia in both community and institutional settings. She is developing care guidelines to differentiate the needs of caregivers and patients with various types of dementia. She has secured multiple program grants, including funding for the development and implementation of innovative interdisciplinary geriatric training curricula. Her clinical and research expertise is invaluable to the many nursing, pharmacy, and medical students she mentors. She directs and teaches in the Primary Care Adult Gerontology program.

2016 Recipient
Susan Bindon, DNP, RN
University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD

Susan L. Bindon, DNP, RN-BC, CNE, is an Assistant Professor in the Institute for Educators at the University of Maryland School of Nursing. Dr. Bindon brings broad experience as a direct care nurse, clinical instructor, clinical nurse specialist, hospital-based educator, and director of education to her academic faculty role. Dr. Bindon maintains a faculty practice as an education consultant at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and is Co-Editor of the Journal for Nurses in Professional Development. Described as a “true teacher’s teacher”, she works with peers to address instructional challenges and helps them determine the best teaching strategies for their classroom, online, or clinical settings. She uses a large “thinking wall” where students sketch out their ideas and projects as they think aloud, and sends individualized video feedback to students in online courses. She coordinates a 2-day workshop, supported by Maryland’s NSP II grant program, which includes standardized students to help new clinical faculty develop and practice communication skills.

Dr. Bindon has authored/co-authored peer reviewed book chapters and articles in Developing Online Learning Environments in Nursing Education and Leadership in Nursing Professional Development: An Organizational and Systems Focus texts and in AACN Advanced Critical Care and Journal of Emergency Nursing. She was selected as a mentor in Maryland’s Nurse Leadership Institute, and acts as a formal and informal mentor to faculty colleagues. Dr. Bindon served on the Board of Directors for the Association for Nursing Professional Development.

2015 Recipients
Christine Colella, DNP, RN, CS, CNP
University of Cincinnati

Christine Lind Colella, DNP, CS, CNP, is an Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing at the University of Cincinnati, College of Nursing. She received her Diploma in Nursing from Quincy Massachusetts City Hospital, her BSN and MSN at the University of Cincinnati, completed the post-master’s certificate program as an Adult Nurse Practitioner from Northern Kentucky University, and DNP at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Colella is the Director of the Nurse Practitioner programs and teaches two of the foundational courses, Advanced Health Assessment and Differential Diagnosis. The need to transform a previous face-to-face course to a distant learning format led her into the world of technology. She put together an interdisciplinary team of instructional design and information technology to insure that student learning at a distance was provided an experience comparable to that of on-site students. Dr. Colella developed an interactive case study (ICS) that used standardized patients, video clips, journaling, and interactive strategies to engage the student in the process of differential diagnosis. The research done on this work compared the final diagnosis of the students who completed the ICS with the on-site students who did the live activity and determined that the results were equivalent and learning outcomes were comparable. These data were used as preliminary evidence to secure a HRSA grant. This HRSA grant, funding fifteen interdisciplinary ICS, feature pediatric, adult, and geriatric patients for nurse practitioners’ and medical students’ education. Dr. Colella works as a primary care Nurse Practitioner at The Lincoln Heights Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center serving the uninsured and under-insured. She is an active member of the Ohio Association of Advance Practice Nurses and Sigma Theta Tau Beta Iota Chapter. She is on the advisory committee for a University wide wellness initiative as well as a subcommittee with an interprofessional education (IPE) focus to integrate students of the academic health center into this initiative.

Deborah Kirk Walker, DNP, FNP-BC, AOCN
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Deborah Kirk Walker, DNP, is an Associate Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing, in the Acute, Chronic and Continuing Care Department. She received her BSN and MSN from Troy University and her DNP from University of South Alabama in 2007. Dr. Walker has a wide range of clinical expertise in hematology/oncology, chronic illness, and health promotion with more than 15 years of experience as an advanced nurse practitioner. She currently has a reimbursed faculty practice at The Kirklin Clinic in the Hematology/Oncology Program where she manages patients with breast cancer and lymphoma on clinical trials, those undergoing active treatment, and for long-term follow up dealing with acute and chronic survivorship issues. She has a diverse background in oncology having worked in the inpatient and ambulatory settings caring for cancer patients with variety of diagnoses. Dr. Walker’s experience in clinical practice, global health as a Fulbright Senior Specialist, and teaching with technology has provided the basis for the development of teaching innovations that impact students in the United States and in Africa. Her extensive experience in oncology nursing at the bedside and as a nurse practitioner provides the content and context for teaching activities. To bridge the gap between theory and practice, a project-based learning activity was developed that resulted in an experience that helped undergraduate students develop and articulate a greater social awareness for the patient with cancer. The activity ultimately led Dr. Walker to seek funding that was awarded to lead a project team in the development of a Cancer Resource app for the local community resources. This project involved oncology professionals as well as nursing and computer information technology students. Dr. Walker has published her work in various journals including the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing; Computers, Informatics, Nursing; American Journal of Nursing; and the Journal of Pediatric Nursing. Dr. Walker has published chapters in the Clinical Manual for the Oncology Advanced Practice Nurse (3rd ed.), Core Curriculum for Oncology Nursing (5th ed.) and Diseases of the Breast (5th ed.) medical text book. Dr. Walker is a recognized leader among the oncology community both locally and nationally. She is currently the Immediate Past President of the local Oncology Nursing Society Chapter of Central Alabama. In addition, she was the national Chair for the 2012 Oncology Nursing Society Congress Planning Team, of which the 37th Congress of ONS was held in New Orleans, LA in May 2012. She served on the Oncology Nursing Society Board of Directors as Director at Large from 2012-2015. She is currently a trustee for the Oncology Nursing Society Foundation.

2014 Recipient
Karen Yehle, PhD, RN
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Karen S. Yehle, PhD, MS, RN, FAHA, is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing, College of Health and Human Sciences at Purdue University. She earned her AAS at Purdue University, BSN at Purdue University Calumet, MS in Nursing at DePaul University, and PhD in Health Sciences at Touro University International. Dr. Yehle’s research focuses on two areas: the scholarship of teaching and learning and self-care in patients with heart failure. In her interprofessional education (IPE) research she has worked collaboratively with an interdisciplinary team (nursing, pharmacy, nutrition science, medicine, and sociology) to develop IPE experiential activities. Dr. Yehle’s interdisciplinary heart failure research team (nursing and pharmacy) is working to improve self-care abilities in patients with heart failure. Dr. Yehle is the current editor of The Connection, the official newsletter of the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses (AAHFN). She serves on the Early Career Committee of the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA), the Cardiovascular Nursing and Stroke Membership Committee of the American Heart Association, and the Publication Committee of AAHFN. She is an active member of Sigma Theta Tau International, Delta Omicron chapter, and a Fellow of the American Heart Association (FAHA).

2013 Recipient
Cynthia Rubenstein PhD, RN, CPNP-PC
James Madison University

Cynthia Rubenstein, PhD, RN, CPNP-PC, is an Assistant Professor at James Madison University and serves as the Undergraduate Program Director for the Department of Nursing in the College of Health and Behavioral Studies. She earned her BSN from the University of Virginia, a MSN from Virginia Commonwealth University and her PhD in Nursing from Villanova University. She has over 20 years of practice in pediatric nursing, including NICU, ED and home health experience. Dr. Rubenstein has been a certified pediatric nurse practitioner for 14 years with current clinical practice at Harrisonburg Pediatrics. She is currently the President of Pi Mu-at-Large, a chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International. Dr. Rubenstein’s research is focused on childhood obesity prevention and she has worked collaboratively with a multidisciplinary team to develop expert nutritional content for an interactive web-based educational program for the Virginia WIC program. With over 12 years of experience as a nurse educator, Dr. Rubenstein has also completed research on nursing education and political self-efficacy in BSN students. Her scholarly activities have been presented at local, regional, and national meetings and published in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Rubenstein has also published a peer-reviewed book chapter and serves as a manuscript reviewer for the Journal of Specialists in Pediatric Nursing.

2012 Recipient
Tami Wyatt, PhD, RN, CNE
University of Tennessee Knoxville

Tami Wyatt, PhD, RN, CNE, Associate Professor and Chair of Educational Technology and Simulation at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, College of Nursing, teaches in the undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. She has earned a master’s degree in critical care nursing, a master’s of education in instructional technology, and a doctorate in nursing research. Dr. Wyatt has been a nurse educator for fifteen years and has nine years’ experience in instructional design. She has expertise in online learning and ways to enhance traditional education using instructional technology. Dr. Wyatt uses both synchronous and asynchronous learning methods in online environments through course management tools, teleconferencing technology, chat rooms, digital stories, self-directed web-based modules and simulation integrated with electronic health records. She has used personal digital assistants, tablet PCs, classroom response systems, electronic health records, gaming, and internet access for group work to enhance traditional classrooms. As a nurse leader Dr. Wyatt has advanced knowledge about technology in nursing by building software applications with federal funds and disseminating research findings through presentations and publications. She has collaborating partnerships with other institutions and colleagues in engineering that advance nursing education in many ways. One of Dr. Wyatt’s most significant contributions to nursing education is the development and testing of an educational electronic health record (EHR) now being used by the international nursing education community. Dr. Wyatt is currently testing outcomes of student performance on competencies when learning in a simulated environment enhanced with EHRs. Dr. Wyatt has dedicated her career to education including research about teaching and learning in patients and the health professions. Her goals are to continue influencing education by mentoring, modeling, and producing evidence on effective teaching learning strategies—specifically those enhanced with instructional technology.