In This Section

Press Contact

Robert Rosseter
AACN Chief Communications Officer
(202) 463-6930 ext. 231



About the American Association of Colleges of Nursing
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for academic nursing representing 865 schools of nursing nationwide. AACN establishes quality standards for nursing education, influences the nursing profession to improve health care, and promotes public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice. 



AACN Recognizes 2019 CNL Award Winners

Published February 20, 2019


WASHINGTON, D.C., February 20, 2019 – The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC) are pleased to announce the latest winners of the annual Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) Awards, which recognize the innovative work of certified CNLs in practice and education. Cory Franks, MSN, RN, CNL, from the Texas Health Alliance will be presented with the CNL Vanguard Award for exemplary practice as a CNL, and Pamela DeGuzman, PhD, MBA, RN, CNL, from the University of Virginia will receive the CNL Educator Award. Both honors will be presented during the opening session of the annual CNL Summit held February 20-22, 2019 in Tampa, FL.


"Certified Clinical Nurse Leaders are having a significant impact on enhancing healthcare quality by raising patient satisfaction levels, improving care outcomes, reducing hospital readmissions, and realizing sizable cost-savings," said AACN Board Chair Ann Cary, PhD, MPH, RN, FNAP, FAAN. "AACN commends the groundbreaking work of Cory Franks to raise the profile of the CNL role in the Texas Health Alliance, and of Dr. Pamela DeGuzman to prepare the next generation of CNLs to help transform the nursing workforce."

The Clinical Nurse Leader is an emerging nursing role developed by AACN in collaboration with leaders from education and practice to improve the quality of patient care and better prepare nurses to thrive in today's healthcare system in any setting. These master's-prepared clinicians put evidence-based practice into action to ensure that patients benefit from the latest innovations in care delivery. The CNL evaluates patient outcomes, identifies risk, coordinates care, and implements quality improvement strategies.

The CNL Vanguard Award was introduced in 2012 by AACN and the Commission on Nurse Certification (the autonomous agency charged with overseeing the CNL certification process) to recognize a certified CNL for innovative and outstanding professional performance and advocacy of the CNL skill set. In addition, the award promotes the contributions of the CNL in transforming health care.

FranksThis year's recipient, Cory Franks, has been a pioneer for the CNL role at Texas Health Resources. He along with several CNL students developed a structured approach to enhance communication and care delivery at Texas Health Alliance, part of the Texas Health Resources System.  The initiative involving patients, families, hospitalists, nurses, and CNLs has resulted in an innovative care model and numerous quality improvements, including increased communication scores, satisfaction scores, timely discharge rates, and decreases in catheter-associated urinary tract infections. The outcomes at Texas Health Alliance were so convincing that all 14 hospitals within the system have adopted similar communication and care models. In addition to leading a number of interprofessional strategies to improve care outcomes, Cory role models and advocates for the significance, growth, and versatility of the CNL role at the local, state, and national levels.

An Honorable Mention for the Vanguard Award will be given to Megan Williams, MSN, RN, CNL, Manager of Complex Care Program at Regional One Health.

The CNL Educator Award Winner recognizes a CNL faculty member or education program director for their innovative and outstanding preparation of CNLs. In addition, the award promotes the contributions of the CNL faculty member in transforming nursing education and promoting excellence in both academia and practice.

DeGuzmanThis year's recipient, Dr. Pamela DeGuzman, is an Associate Professor at the University of Virginia School of Nursing.  She holds a joint appointment at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital as a Research Coordinator where she serves as a mentor to staff and supports evidence-based practice projects. At UVA, she has taught in the CNL program for the last three years and in that time has completely revamped the CNL capstone course with an emphasis on dissemination of results from the capstone experience. As a CNL she advocates for the CNL role, certification, and education, and has worked to expand the types and number of clinical sites for preparing students for CNL practice, including the UVA Student Health Center.

An Honorable Mention for the CNL Educator Award will be given to Helen Nguyen, DNP, NNP, CNL, Associate Professor at University of San Francisco School of Nursing and Health Professions.

For the latest news and information about the national movement to the CNL, see the CNL web site.