Excellence and Innovation in Teaching Award

The purpose of the AACN Excellence and Innovation in Teaching Award is to recognize 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.

Call for applications is now open. The deadline to apply is May 15, 2024 at 5:00 pm (ET).

Submit an Application

The call for award applications will be announced during each Fall semester, with the nomination application packets due at the end of the Spring semester.

  • Faculty at AACN member school
  • Experienced faculty; defined as teaching full- or part-time for 5 years or more in the faculty role Faculty with a doctoral degree in nursing or related discipline or a master’s degree in nursing
  • Faculty teaching at the undergraduate and/or graduate level

  • Demonstrates significant innovation in teaching/learning approaches to promote learner outcomes
  • Leads in the promotion and implementation of innovation in teaching/learning approaches in nursing education
  • Acts as a role model for creating and sustaining a culture in nursing education that integrates theory and practice
  • Mentors faculty in evidence-based teaching/learning approaches
  • Shares innovation outside the home institution

The eligible faculty member may be nominated by their Dean/Program Director, a peer faculty member, or a student. The nomination application packet consists of the components:

  1. Letter from Dean/Program Director – may be nominating letter or letter of support.
  2. Letter from a peer faculty member or a student – may be nominating letter or letter of support.
  3. Additional letters of support – not to exceed two additional letters of support from either students or peer faculty.
  4. Nominee curriculum vitae
  5. Nominee personal statement – describe your philosophical approaches to teaching and learning and how they contribute to meeting the Award Criteria
  • There must be at least one letter of nomination and one letter of support.
  • It is recommended that letters address the stated award criteria and provide evidence or examples of meeting the criteria.
  • All letters and statements must be no longer than two pages in length.
  • All letters must be written within the last six months.
  • All components of the application packet will be utilized to judge the degree to which each nominee meets the award criteria.
  • All components of the nomination application must be submitted as a single packet; either as a single document or multiple documents submitted attached to a single electronic mail message. PDF is the preferred format.

Call for applications for this award is now open. To apply, please fill out the online application. The deadline is May 15, 2024.

The Award recipient will:

  • Choose one from the following conferences to attend and receive your award during the following academic year: Doctoral Education Conference or Transform Conference . The registration fee for your chosen conference will be waived. If the award recipient is a team, only one member of the team will receive a waived registration conference fee.
  • Receive an engraved award.
  • Be spotlighted on AACN’s website and in the association’s electronic publications.

2023 Recipient

Tiffany Kelley, PhD, MBA, RN-BCTiffany Kelley
University of Connecticut School of Nursing, Storrs, Connecticut

Innovation: Dr. Kelley has collaborated with undergraduate and graduate faculty to integrate key concepts of innovation throughout the curriculum. Dr. Kelley gives guest lectures and voice lectures that provide case studies which highlight how innovation occurs within nursing practice. Dr. Kelley is a model of nursing innovation. She embraces a vision: that every nurse should model Florence Nightingale to identify gaps in patient safety and practices that impact health and innovate changes that lead to better health outcomes. As the largest group of health care professionals, nurses innovate daily, and with increased agency, nurses will lead and transform healthcare. For this to happen, we need Dr. Kelley’s expertise in leveraging education that identifies innovation as a key nursing skill.

Biography: Dr. Tiffany Kelley PhD MBA RN is a Visiting Professor, Director of the Healthcare Innovation Online Graduate Certificate Program, and Co-Director for the NursEng Innovation Center at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing. Dr. Kelley is a leading expert on the topics of healthcare innovation in the contemporary times of delivering safe, efficient, timely, patient-centered, effective, and equitable care to patients and their families. She is a published author, keynote speaker, inventor, entrepreneur, and thought leader committed toward improving on limitations within the status quo.

Kelley was appointed as the DeLuca Foundation Visiting Associate Professor for Innovations and New Knowledge in August 2018 and served in that role until August 2023. To her knowledge, Dr. Kelley is the first nurse in the United States to be appointed as a visiting professor dedicated to integrating innovation into the nursing curriculum across degree programs. By preparing our nursing students and current nurses and advancing their education with the appropriate knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward innovative behaviors and culture, we hold the potential to drive significant positive change in the profession of nursing and health care at large. Dr. Kelley’s combined academic background, professional experiences and overall vision uniquely prepared her for her appointed role at UConn.

Her entrepreneurial spirit and ability to recognize solutions to existing problems are palpable during her invited talks and keynote addresses. Dr. Kelley is the author of Electronic Health Records or Quality Nursing and Health Care, a textbook offering comprehensive insights on the complex tool we are dependent upon today as health care professionals. Kelley also holds the role of founder/CEO of Nightingale & iCare, two entrepreneurial health IT ventures. In 2017, Kelley was recognized as one of the top 12 women in health care and awarded Excellence in Innovation for Nightingale Apps’ Know My Patient in 2018. In 2022, Kelley received the Regina Cusson Healthcare Innovation Award for her contributions in Nursing and Healthcare Innovation. Dr. Kelley currently serves as an Advisor for UConn Venture and Incubator Board, an Editorial Board Member for American Nurse Today and participates in many national workgroups to advance the specialty areas of nursing informatics and innovation.

2022 Recipients

Gary Glauberman, PhDheadshot of Gary Glauberman
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Innovation: Dr. Glauberman exhibits profound dedication to our nursing program. He consistently introduces innovation and creativity into curriculum and teaching methods, and is a nascent and developing nurse leader. His combined expertise in community/public health nursing and emergency preparedness has led to the creation of multiple innovative learning experiences for students of all levels of education. He has mastery of online learning and instructional design. Dr. Glauberman’s efforts reach beyond the classroom as well. He brings creativity, in-depth knowledge, and broad expertise to our nursing program, and is highly deserving of the AACN Excellence and Innovation in Teaching Award.

Biography: Dr. Gary Glauberman is an assistant professor and currently serves as the director of the Advanced Population Health Nursing program at the UH Manoa Nancy Atmospera-Walch School of Nursing. He is board certified in advanced public health nursing and disaster healthcare, and has clinical practice experience in occupational health. His areas of expertise include community/public health nursing, disaster nursing, and global health.

Dr. Glauberman’s scholarly focus is on community disaster preparedness and response efforts. He has served as principle investigator on research projects that have contributed to greater awareness regarding emergency preparedness in Hawaii. He has previously received research funding support from professional nursing organizations such as Sigma Theta Tau and the Association of Community Health Nursing Educators (ACHNE). He is a volunteer for the American Red Cross and Oahu Medical Reserve Corps.

Amanda Veesart, PhDheadshot of amanda veesart
Texas Tech University HSC

Innovation: Dr. Veesart is a phenomenal educator on multiple levels and has had a remarkable impact on her fellow administrators, faculty, and students. Amanda's innovative approaches to nursing education have created an environment of student success, faculty fulfillment, and extraordinary outcomes. She has shared her plan for success with other nursing programs around the state and country. Dr. Veesart has created an open and fulfilling work culture through support and encouragement. She is well deserving of the AACN Excellence and Innovation in Teaching faculty award. Thank you very much for your consideration of Dr. Amanda Veesart.

2021 Recipient

Kathleen Halcomb, EdD, APRNKathleen Halcomb
Frontier Nursing University

Dr. Halcomb has many years of teaching experience, and we have worked with her for almost five years.  As the Chair and Clinical Director for the Department of Family Nursing, we have seen Dr. Halcomb’s creativity and innovation enable remarkable changes in the Family Nurse Practitioner program. Dr. Halcomb has worked tirelessly to meet the clinical needs of students which have been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020 Recipient

Connie Nguyen-Truong, PhD, RN
Washington State University, Vancouver, Washington

Dr. Nguyen-Truong’s contributions reflect a very rare combination of continuous scholarly achievement and pragmatic, collaborative success to materially improve nursing education quality, policy, and standards. As her body of work demonstrates, she has led and widely disseminated/authored her innovative research and transformative culturally-sensitive advances in teaching/learning for the benefit of nursing and other disciplines in peer-reviewed journals, nursing and multi-disciplinary conferences, and digital archival oral history collections (ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3933-5532). Dr. Nguyen-Truong is a Director from academia of the Health & Education Program for Micronesian Islanders and the Director for the Culturally Safe Didactic Dialogues Program that is funded in part by her research grants. Dr. Nguyen-Truong mentors and works with students, faculty colleagues, and community partners nested in cultural communities including Micronesian Islanders, Vietnamese, Chinese Mandarin, Chinese Cantonese, Korean, and Laotian, and also diverse communities in a rural area. She led the development and implemented culturally safe and culturally responsive research engagement and educational curriculums and models and culturally sensitive artistic teaching modalities. Important outcomes for example, point to qual­ity communications between students, faculty, and cultural community leaders regarding difficult and painful topics. This includes being immigrants; his­torical traumas including war, physical and mental torture as war captives, being monitored during imprisonment, forced permanent relocation of communities that the hydrogen testing bombs were dropped on in the islands; and having to build new lives and in the new western world – United States. 

Dr. Connie Kim Yen Nguyen-Truong is an Assistant Professor at Washington State University College of Nursing and teaches across undergraduate and graduate programs. She has 20 years of expertise, of which 1.5 decades are in nursing education: clinical nursing in an array of intermediate care, population/community health nursing, and a nurse scientist/educator. She has a clinical practice background in Intermediate Care at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center and community and population health nursing through her research partnerships with culturally diverse social services and health center. She is a Senior Fellow of the Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Institute of the Coalition of Communities of Color Leaders BRIDGE. Dr. Nguyen-Truong is serving as the elected Board member on the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) Board of Directors and the Immediate Past Board Chair of IRCO’s Asian Family Center Advisory Board. Dr. Nguyen-Truong’s program of culturally diverse/ transcultural/ intercultural and transdisciplinary/ interdisciplinary research regards academic and community-engaged research justice through utilizing a health equity lens. She is focused on advancing the understanding of: 1) health promotion across the lifespan, including cancer control and prevention, and the intersection of health and learning systems, including prenatal/perinatal healthcare, early learning, and parent leadership, and 2) diversity in health technology research, including adoption of health-assistive smart home monitoring of chronic illnesses in communities of color, including immigrant and marginalized populations. Dr. Nguyen-Truong led her research team and contributions in science helped to drive health policy change for data equity (House Bill 2134) that became law and illuminated a workforce diversity policy in addressing immigrants and refugees and a call for action for inequities among women and girls. She is an invited speaker and also invited for her mentoring in community participatory research in nursing and across disciplines including academia and community-based organizations.

2019 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.


If you have any questions, please e-mail faculty@aacnnursing.org.

Congratulations to the 2023 Award Recipient!

Leesha Simons

Tiffany Kelley, PhD, MBA, RN-BC
University of Connecticut School of Nursing, Storrs, Connecticut