Press Room

Clinical Nurse Specialists from Coast to Coast Honored for Improving Health and Mentoring the Next Generation of Nurse Leaders

Austin, Texas – The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) honored clinical nurse specialists from California, Indiana, Michigan, New York and Oklahoma for their commitment to the vital role clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) play in health care, improving health and wellness and mentoring the next generation of CNSs. The awards were presented during NACNS’s 2018 annual conference, Putting the Pieces Together: CNSs Bridging the Gaps in Health Care, in Austin, Texas.

Clinical nurse specialists are advanced practice registered nurses and have education and training in advanced nursing care, physiology, pharmacology and physical assessment. CNSs’ work varies; they can provide diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing management of patients, advance nursing practice, and improve clinical processes to achieve greater safety and quality.

This year’s award winners are:

  • 2018 CNS of the Year Kathleen Vollman, MSN, RN, CCNS, FCCM, FAAN, Acute and Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist, President of ADVANCING NURSING LLC and adjunct faculty member for Michigan State University’s Clinical Nurse Specialist Graduate Program, for outstanding professional achievement in all aspects of CNS practice.

“It is our great honor to present the CNS of the Year Award to Kathleen Vollman,” said NACNS 2017 Board President Vince Holly, MSN, RN, CCRN, CCNS, ACNS-BC. “Kathleen’s passion for the CNS role is well established. She was a founding member of NACNS, helped write the bylaws and served on the initial board of directors. Her commitment to the national and international presence of the CNS role has not wavered.”

  • Brenda Lyon Leadership Award Winner Melissa Craft, PhD, APRN-CNS, AOCN, Assistant Professor, Interim Associate Dean for Academic Administration and Graduate Education and PhD Program Director, at the Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, for extraordinary leadership in service to NACNS.

“Dr. Craft’s leadership has shaped the work of the CNS Institute in these critical early years of its formation,” said NACNS 2017 Board President Vince Holly, MSN, RN, CCRN, CCNS, ACNS-BC.  “The association and all clinical nurse specialists have greatly benefited from her leadership and passion to ensuring the clinical nurse specialist role is visible, respected and valued in nursing and health care. She serves as a wonderful example for the next generation of CNS leaders.”

  • Susan B. Davidson Service Award Winner Elissa Brown, MSN, RN, PMHCNS-BC, retired Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist with the Veterans’ Administration Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, for extraordinary service to NACNS.

“Elissa has dedicated her professional life to bettering those who have served our country and in turn we are so pleased to honor her for her years of service to NACNS,” said 2017 Board President Vince Holly, MSN, RN, CCRN, CCNS, ACNS-BC.  “For nearly 40 years she worked with the VA to improve the mental health and wellness of our nation’s veterans and pushed forward CNS practice and nursing ethics. NACNS has greatly benefited from her contributions to the CNS and nursing community.”

  • 2018 Preceptor of the Year Wayne Quashie, MSN, MPH, RN, CNS, ACNS-BC, AOCNS, a clinical nurse specialist with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, for outstanding professional achievement as a CNS preceptor who demonstrated a commitment to teach, coach and mentor CNS students to achieve CNS competencies.

“Wayne Quashie is an exemplary preceptor and his work is positively shaping future generations of clinical nurse specialists and the future of CNS practice,” said 2017 Board President Vince Holly, MSN, RN, CCRN, CCNS, ACNS-BC. “His commitment to the CNS role and the nursing profession is an example to us all. We are so pleased to honor him with this year’s CNS Preceptor of the Year Award.”

  • 2018 President’s Award and Educator of the Year Janet Fulton, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, ANEF, FAAN, Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at Indiana University School of Nursing for her extraordinary service to NACNS and outstanding professional achievement as a CNS educator and acknowledges his/her commitment to excellence and innovation in preparing CNSs and in implementing the NACNS Statement on CNS Practice and Education.

“It is my great honor to present both the President’s Award and the Educator of the Year Award to Jan Fulton,” said NACNS 2017 Board President Vince Holly, MSN, RN, CCRN, CCNS, ACNS-BC. “Jan’s impressive body of work has helped shift CNS education to outcomes orientation, interdisciplinary evidence-based practice, and system level leadership. Her commitment to advancing the work of the clinical nurse specialist is truly commendable. Personally, her teaching has impacted me directly and without her support, guidance and encouragement I wouldn’t be in the position I am today. I am very pleased to be awarding her today.”

  • 2018 NACNS Affiliate of the Year Oklahoma Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (OACNS) for sustained membership growth, innovative and creative educational opportunities, building CNS leadership, contributing to the association’s growth and advancing the CNS role.

“The Oklahoma Association of Nurse Specialists is an excellent organization, with passionate members who are steadfast advocates, dedicated to increasing awareness of the CNS role in health care” said 2017 Board President Vince Holly, MSN, RN, CCRN, CCNS, ACNS-BC. “OACNS has been a strong supporter of NACNS’ goals and mission for the past 15 years and we look forward to working with them as we continue to promote the benefits CNSs bring to evidenced-based quality care, patient safety, and cost of savings in health care delivery.”

Clinical nurse specialists are licensed advanced practice registered nurses who have graduate preparation (master’s or doctorate) in nursing and advanced level competencies that meet the increased needs of improving quality and reducing costs in today’s health care system. A recent nationwide survey, conducted by NACNS, found that CNSs spend most of their time providing direct patient care (22 percent), teaching nurses and staff (20 percent), consulting with nurses, staff and others (20 percent), leading evidence-based practice projects (14 percent) and assisting other nurses and staff with direct patient care (12 percent). There are more than 70,000 clinical nurse specialists.

Colleagues, students or members of the NACNS board of directors nominated candidates for the awards.

Note: Photos of award winners are available; please contact Luci Manning ( or 202-371-1999) with requests.

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Founded in 1995, The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists is the only association representing the clinical nurse specialist (CNS). CNSs are advanced practice registered nurses who work in a variety of specialties to ensure high-quality, evidence-based, patient-centered care. As leaders in health care settings, CNSs provide direct patient care and lead initiatives to improve care and clinical outcomes, and reduce costs. NACNS is dedicated to advancing CNS practice and education, removing certification and regulatory barriers, and assuring the public access to quality CNS services.

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