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Virtual ceremony recognizes AFMC’s ‘best of the best’

The Air Force Materiel Command announced its 2020 Annual Excellence Awards recipients during a virtual ceremony, March 26, 2021.

“I like to think of this annual ceremony as our Academy Awards, because you are all superstars,” said Patricia Young, AFMC Executive Director, addressing the virtual attendees. “You have been selected from a portfolio of over 87,000 Airmen. You are all winners!”

Due to the pandemic, this year’s awards ceremonies were split into separate events held on the Microsoft Commercial Virtual Remove live application. Families, coworkers and friends were invited to log in to view the unique ceremony.

“A special shout out to the families of these outstanding nominees. Thank you for your service. Our Airmen can only be successful because of your support,” said Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., AFMC Commander, who hosted the event.

Nine Airmen were chosen from 59 nominees representing the total AFMC workforce at centers, wings and the command headquarters. Nominees were selected in nine categories: Airman, Non-commissioned Officer, Senior Non-commissioned officer, First sergeant, Company Grade Officer, Field Grade Officer, Civilian Category I, Civilian Category II and Civilian Category III.

The event was appropriately themed, “Growing through Challenges, Breaking through Barriers, Powering the Warfighter … Together.”

“Our ceremony looks a lot different than usual, but something that doesn’t change is the number of outstanding performers we have.” said Chief Master Sgt. Stanley C. Cadell, AFMC command chief. “Congratulations to all.”

The 2020 winners are:

AIRMAN OF THE YEAR: Senior Airman Valerie M. Graw is a Cyber Operations Controller assigned to the 88th Communications Squadron Cyber Operations Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Her team ensures 24/7 classified and unclassified network capabilities to five major commands with 30,000 personnel. In 2020, Graw completed a deployment to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar and an associate degree in information systems technology. She was also a distinguished graduate of the Airman Leadership School.

NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICER OF THE YEAR: Tech. Sgt. Mathew M. Footit is the Flight Chief for Environmental Management. He leads a team responsible for Occupational Health, Emergency Response and Environmental Management, achieving compliance with minimal mission impact for a selectively-manned test organization servicing two installations, eight geographically separate units and 70 remote sites. Footit was also the 2019 United States Lacrosse Coach of the Year, a 2020 distinguished graduate of the NCO Academy and the 2020 USAF Bioenvironmental Engineering NCO of the Year.

SENIOR NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICER OF THE YEAR: Senior Master Sgt. David N. Briden is the headquarters operations manager for the Air Force Installation Contracting Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. He oversees contingency operations, battle staff duties and functional area manager actions and provides guidance for eight major commands. He has deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Libyan operation and also provided contracting support for U.S. Northern Command during hurricane relief efforts.

First Sergeant of the Year: Master Sgt. Mary K. Cramer is the First Sergeant for the 72nd Force Support Squadron, 72nd Comptroller Squadron, 72nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, 72nd Operations Support Squadron and the 72nd Air Base Wing Staff Agencies at Tinker Air Force Base, Florida. She oversees the health, morale and welfare of more than 1,200 Airmen. Cramer has deployed three times to bases throughout Southwest Asia. She was the 2017 Commandant Award Winner and distinguished graduate at the First Sergeant Academy, the 2018 First Sergeant of the Year for the 552nd Air Control Wing and the 2019 First Sergeant of the Year for the 72nd Air Base Wing.

COMPANY GRADE OFFICER of the Year: Capt. Joseph S. Haggberg is the Flight Commander of the Sensors and Defensive Systems Test Flight, 46th Test Squadron, 96th Cyberspace Test Group, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. He leads a team of 50 military, civilian, and contractor personnel who perform developmental testing for a variety of aircraft and cross-service survivability and sensor technology. Haggberg holds a master’s degree in science and engineering management. He recently completed a master’s of science in flight test engineering where he flew 25 different aircraft and studied flying qualities, mission systems, and performance.

FIELD GRADE OFFICER of the Year:  Lt. Col. Brett J. Cooper serves as the Materiel Leader, Reentry Systems in the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent Systems Directorate, Hill Air Force Base, Utah. He is responsible for development, deployment, and sustainment of the reentry system for the next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile system. An engineer, Cooper has served in numerous acquisition positions in space, intelligence, and nuclear programs. While at Air Staff, he managed the Air Force’s major prototyping programs, including the adaptive turbine engine, hypersonic strike, and directed energy weapons.

CIVILIAN CATEGORY I of the Year: Aaliyah M. Patten is a Financial Analyst Specialist for the Centralized Asset Management Weapon System Sustainment division at Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Patten is responsible for managing the operations and maintenance sustainment execution budget of $504.4 million. Patten earned a bachelor of science in business finance and will complete her masters of business administration in May. She won the AFMC Headquarters Civilian Category I of the year in 2020.

CIVILIAN CATEGORY III of the Year: Kathy M. Williams is an Adult Health Clinical Nurse Specialist and Master Clinician at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. As a medical-surgical expert on the Multi-Service Inpatient Flight she oversees the nurse residency program, is a key consultant for three Department of Defense working groups and chairs two medical group committees. An Air Force retiree, she sets benchmarks in clinical practice, ensuring national standards of practice are met or exceeded. She received numerous awards in 2020 at Eglin AFB including the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists Clinical Nurse Specialist of the Year, American Nurse Credentialing Center Certified Medical-Surgical Nurse of the Year, 96th Medical Group Nursing Service Award for Excellence and the 96th Inpatient Squadron Civilian of the Year.

Civilian Category III of the Year: Daniel M. Sanders is the Operations Group Logistics Management Lead for a unique national test facility supporting separate geographic locations, organizations, and both U.S. and foreign national customers. He provides overall logistics planning, programming, and systems support requirements for projects and larger DOD programs, modifying and adapting support requirements to fit situations and fulfil mission objectives. Sanders enlisted in the Air Force in 1985, starting his career as a Tactical Aircraft Maintenance Specialist. Upon his retirement from active duty, Sanders began his career as a Department of the Air Force civilian at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

Congratulations to these outstanding Airmen. Winners in the Airman, Non-commissioned Officer, Senior Non-Commissioned Officer and First Sergeant categories will represent AFMC in the United States Air Force Outstanding Airmen of the Year and First Sergeant of the Year competitions held later this year.

There’s far more to the ‘white uniform and cap’

When someone wins an award, it’s usually to recognize a personal achievement. However, for Geline Buenconsejo, MSN, the award she received was in recognition for her outstanding and enduring professional achievements in developing treatments, systems and protocols that benefit many people.

Geline is a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) in acute care services at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. She recently was awarded the CNS Evidence-Based Practice/Quality Improvement (EBP/QI) of the Year Award from the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists. The award recognizes outstanding professional achievement by a CNS who has significantly impacted nursing practice, patient and family outcomes, as well as health care systems, including reducing cost.

“Geline’s commitment to the profession is laudable,” says Gabriella Malagon-Maldonado, PhD, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Sharp Chula Vista. “Because of her clinical expertise and commitment to advancing nursing, she conducted multiple evidence-based practice and process improvement projects.”

From programs to reduce pressure injuries and decrease patient falls, to improving discharge times and decreasing bloodstream infections, Geline’s efforts to improve the care she and colleagues provide and to improve systems within Sharp are exemplary, especially during a pandemic.

“Recently, Geline was instrumental in training volunteer nurse extenders to assist primary care registered nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic surge,” says Malagon-Maldonado. “She was also responsible for creating COVID-19 patient care guidelines focused on both patient and staff safety.”

Geline was born and raised in the Philippines, where she completed her Bachelor of Science in nursing. She is the mother of three children, ages 3, 6 and 9; and she is currently continuing her notable academic endeavors at the University of San Diego Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, where she is pursuing a doctorate of philosophy in nursing research.

“My aunt inspired me to become a nurse,” Geline says. “I used to see her in her white uniform and cap, and I told myself that someday, I will be like her. It wasn’t really until I became a nurse that I realized that there is more to the white uniform and cap – it was my calling and my passion to help the sick that brought me into this profession.”

Most days, Geline spends her time working with staff and other multidisciplinary team members. She starts each morning rounding on three units of the hospital to check in with unit managers and charge nurses. She also represents Sharp Chula Vista on several Sharp HealthCare system committees.

“My favorite part of my job is the opportunity to create structures and processes that can make our patients and staff safe, while also delivering positive organizational outcomes,” she says.

At home, Geline’s focus is on her family as well as self-care. From playing board games and baking with her children to carving out time each day to “escape” on her indoor exercise bike, she has found ways to thrive throughout the pandemic while always working to ensure her colleagues are doing equally well.

“We are a year into this pandemic now, and the staff are emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted,” she says. “I need to take this into consideration when I am creating and implementing changes. I need to be someone they can turn to.”

By receiving this award, it is evident Geline is just that. Noting that such recognition is motivating and humbling, she, of course, is quick to share the achievement with her colleagues.

“Receiving this prestigious award is both a personal and professional milestone,” she says. “This award is not only for me, but also for my whole Sharp Chula Vista team who have worked so hard to achieve our cumulative goals.”

7 lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic


Clinical nurse specialists share experiences on how the pandemic and social distancing are highlighting the CNS role.

The “new normal” resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way America’s 89,000 clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) do their jobs. For example, how do CNSs perform all the tasks they have been trained to do while maintaining six feet of social distance? What information should be communicated to staff?

Four CNSs and National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) members recently shared their experiences learned over the past months about how to maintain social distance while taking on new responsibilities and still be effective. Their insights go beyond wearing masks, keeping social distance, and washing hands.


1. Worry only about what you can control.

It’s an ever-changing environment, with new COVID-19 information arriving daily, frequently resulting in new healthcare policies. Early in the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed recommendations regularly, and CNSs were responsible for disseminated them across many organizations.

“It could get exhausting with the constant changes in policy and protocol. We had no control over CDC announcements, so we just rolled with it and worked to keep everyone current,” said Julie DeVaney, CNS at UC San Diego Health. “We had daily announcements, over-communicated information, and held what we called a ‘Daily Engagement.’ The Daily Engagement was a formal, daily conversation with our leadership and the clinical CNSs so we could disseminate any new information.”

2. Overcommunicate.

Take the time to critically look at news and other information being released. Because COVID-19 is constantly evolving and new study results are being reported regularly, there is a real need to be vigilant about the types of information being shared. Learning to overcommunicate accurate information takes time and is essential.

“Initially, we dedicated a lot of time for conversations and supporting staff, trying to be sure they had accurate information; keeping them updated,” said Pat Rosier MS, RN, ACNS-BC, a surgical CNS at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. “We answered questions like, ‘What was our guidance?’ and ‘What was the personal protective equipment [PPE] to use?’ So, you’re always trying to be sure the [nurses] have the accurate information. And then internally, what were our plans for which units would care for which types of patients? So, we spent, and continue to spend, time keeping staff up-to-date, calming them down, and sometimes we just listen. Listening is a form of communication.”

3. Know where and how the staff is getting their information.

Understand where and how nurses obtained new information. According to Maureen Seckel, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC, CCNS, CCRN, FCCM, FCNS, who is CNS, acute medicine service line quality and safety and sepsis leader/coordinator at ChristianaCare in Newark, Delaware, it’s important to first locate the news sources used by staff and then check to see if the sources are credible. If the sources aren’t accurate, speak up and inform the staff, and provide sources that are credible. This will enable CNSs to prevent the spread of misinformation before it starts.

CNS Leadership

4. Persuade with evidence.

As leaders, CNSs need to communicate evidence-based information thoughtfully to staff without simply reacting to whatever new information is presented. They need to use their skill and knowledge to persuade—and back up with evidence—recommended actions. The confidence that evidence brings to new information can reduce the levels of uncertainty nurses often experience working on the frontlines of the pandemic.

“The biggest challenge CNSs had to manage was the staff’s fear,” said Seckel. “Our code words for staff were ‘fluid and flexible’ because what was common practice for COVID-19 today could change next week due to new research. We didn’t want to react before we considered the situation with other experts and leaders, so we put the right information out.”

Messaging becomes exquisitely important in this environment. Rapidly and constantly changing information makes people more fearful. It’s important for the CNS to lead and persuade by taking the time with staff and explaining the evidence.

5. Insist on a seat at the leadership table.

The pandemic led to healthcare operational leaders and clinical leaders working together more closely and communicating more as a team. It’s important to not separate operational and clinical activities from each other and to make sure everyone is working toward the same objectives. This can only happen when CNSs play a leadership role.

“Clinical leadership is imperative in a situation like this. CNSs definitely need to be a voice at the table,” said Matthew Beier MS, RN, CNS-BC, CNOR, director of advanced practice nursing at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. “Decisions should not be made strictly from an operational perspective. Clinical leadership through a CNS, and clinical educator is absolutely 100% needed in a situation like this. We need to make our voices heard and advocate for the clinical needs of the organization, not just the operational needs.”

6. Train, train, train.

All training is welcome but, in particular, pandemic surge training had the unexpected benefit of calming nurses’ nerves and creating an even more collegial environment. DeVaney helped train more than 300 nurses to manage a surge that required moving toward a team-nursing model at UC San Diego Health. DeVaney believes that the pandemic has been enlightening in that it forced her team to learn new ways of getting the job done better.

“The surge training helped calm nerves because it provided a clear idea of what may be expected of nurses,” said DeVaney. “They realized it wasn’t going to be as scary as they thought. Training is helpful in that it sets expectations and helps staff maintain focus.”

Patient Visitation

7. Maintain social distance but be socially inclusive.

Social distancing between family and patient—restricting access—is the hardest part of the job. It’s wonderful when the patients are awake and alert and want to talk to their family using various media platforms. At the same time, it’s difficult to watch patients with COVID-19 having to FaceTime family members. There is no physical contact with the family. The lack of intimacy can be incredibly sad and heart wrenching.

Nurses can become emotionally drained in this environment. These situations require a lot of discussion with staff in the form of providing care for the caregivers.

8. Master technology and use it.

“Our infection prevention team has been involved from the very beginning dictating a lot of our practices when it comes to entering patient rooms,” said Beier. “We definitely rapidly ramped up our telehealth capabilities doing a lot of work with the nurses using telehealth right on the patient care unit. Specifically, with patients who were positive early on in the crisis, we allowed nurses to stay out of the patient room, only entering for critical needs or necessary assessments and interventions. Other conversing and interactions are done by iPad and other similar devices.”

Necessity as the mother of invention has been visible in many adaptive behaviors, especially when it comes to using technology and bundling care to facilitate patient visits. During the pandemic, CNSs are helping lead efforts to improvise communications channels. All the CNSs interviewed highlighted the importance of technology to help family members communicate with their loved ones in the hospital. From acting as an intermediary between the patient and family on a mobile phone to using Facetime and iPads, CNSs have helped institute a number of communications solutions for their patients. This was especially true in instances where family members were unfamiliar with technology.

Resurgence of the CNS

Maintaining social distance while performing the role of a CNS during a pandemic—aptly categorized as a “roller coaster ride”—is challenging, yet CNSs everywhere have stepped up to lead practice changes needed. CNSs around the country are successfully modifying and strengthening their communications, taking on more leadership roles, and adapting existing systems and procedures for this new normal. Processes like the lessons learned and shared in this article have helped save lives, comforted patients, supported nurses and sparked a growing resurgence of the CNS role in organizations across the country.

Sean Reed is president of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists.

8 lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic

Access to CMS Call Recordings, Transcripts and Podcasts

CMS has been hosting regular calls with a variety of clinicians, hospitals, other facilities, and states in an effort to keep stakeholders updated on our COVID-19 efforts.  As we know not everyone is available to attend the calls live, we are happy to share that you can access recordings of the calls along with transcripts on the following link: We will continue to host calls and share information through our list serves and media.

National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists Honors Six Distinguished Advanced Practice Registered Nurses

National Awards Recognizes Clinical Nurse Specialists for Outstanding Achievement and Contributions Advancing the Profession


RESTON, VA – March 25, 2020 – The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) unveiled its 2020 award winners at its 25th Annual Conference last week. The six award winners were honored for their professional achievement and contributions to advancing the clinical nurse specialists (CNS) profession.  NACNS is the only national organization representing thousands of CNSs and dedicated to advancing the practice and education of CNSs.   Award winners were selected to receive the honors by their professional nursing peers.


“The unique expertise and consistent value these six clinical nurse specialists have contributed to health care significantly advance the CNS profession by differentiating the CNS skill-set from that of other advanced practice registered nurses,” said Sean M. Reed, PhD, APN, ACNS-BC, ACHPN, NACNS President. “Their contributions across a broad range of health care settings and specialties are leading to improved patient outcomes as well as greater support for CNS professional development programs.”


The NACNS’ Annual Award Program recognizes significant achievements and contributions from individual members and affiliates for raising the profile of the CNS, fostering research and improving practice, educational opportunities and service.


About The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists 2020 Award Winners

For a description of each award winner’s achievements and contributions click here.


Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Of The Year Award honors a CNS for outstanding professional achievement demonstrating exemplary practice in patient care, nursing and health care delivery systems.

  • Award Winner: Kathy M. Williams, MSN, RN-BC, APRN, AHCNS-BC, Adult Health Clinical Nurse Specialist/Master Clinician, U.S. Air Force, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida


CNS Educator of the Year Award recognizes an NACNS member for outstanding professional achievement as a CNS educator and acknowledges his/her commitment to excellence and innovation.

  • Award Winner: Gayle M. Timmerman, , RN, CNS, FNP, FAAN, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing,


CNS Evidence-based Practice/Quality Improvement of the Year Award is bestowed annually on a NACNS member who has successfully implemented evidence-based practice and quality improvement changes that had a significant impact on nursing practice and patient and family outcomes.

  • Award Winner: Erica A. Fischer-Cartlidge, DNP, CNS, CBCN, AOCNS, Nurse Leader, Evidence-based Practice, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York


Susan B. Davidson Service Award recognizes extraordinary service to NACNS.

  • Award Winner: Susan B. Fowler, PhD, RN, CNRN, FAHA, Nurse Scientist, Orlando Health, Orlando, Florida


Brenda Lyon Leadership Award distinguishes an individual who has demonstrated exemplary leadership in service to NACNS.

  • Award Winner: Susan Dresser, PhD, RN APRN-CNS, CCRN FCNS, Clinical Assistant Professor and Director, Adult-Gerontology CNS Program, University of Oklahoma Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


President’s Award recognizes an individual or entity for extraordinary service and contributions to NACNS and the accomplishment of its mission.

  • Award Winner: Anne E. Hysong, MSN, APRN, CCNS, ACNS-BC, FCNS, Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist, Northside Hospital, Duluth, Ga


About The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists

The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) is the only national association representing the clinical nurse specialist (CNS). CNSs are the most versatile advanced practice registered nurses and work in a variety of health care specialties to ensure delivery of high-quality, evidence-based, patient-centered care. As leaders in the acute, post-acute, and ambulatory health care settings, CNSs impact direct patient care, nurses and nursing practice, and organizations and systems to optimize care and drive outstanding clinical outcomes. NACNS is dedicated to advancing CNS practice and education and removing unnecessary and limiting regulatory barriers, while assuring public access to quality CNS services. For more information or to join NACNS click here

2020 Annual Conference Programming Canceled for March 13

Dear NACNS Annual Conference Attendees,

As you know the NACNS Board has been closely monitoring the situation with the COVID-19 virus. This evening, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb banned non-essential gatherings of more than 250 people. Given this, we are cancelling our programming for tomorrow, March 13. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your understanding during this ever-changing situation.

Despite challenging circumstances, our CNS family pulled together to make this event a success. . Volunteers filled-in for what would have been cancelled sessions, attendees exhibited patience and understanding through it all, and our resilient conference planning committee made sure everything ran like clockwork. The strength of character required to be a CNS was clearly evident this week.

Thank you everyone for being here. Safe travels home. Let’s meet in New Orleans next year to celebrate the resurgence of the CNS!

The NACNS Board of Directors

Improved Sleep in the Hospital

Improving sleep in the hospital leads to significant decrease in delirium:

A CNS-led project Abbott Northwestern Clinical Nurse Specialists, Liz Kozub and Autumn Gode, led an evidence based practice initiative to improve sleep and reduce the delirium in 2017. Delirium is sudden confusion that develops over a short period of time and it is known that up to 30% of patients in the hospital will have delirium. Some reasons a person may develop delirium include pain, lack of activity, certain medications, lack of sleep, and older age. The main purpose of this project was to prevent complications such as delirium and improve satisfaction of the hospital stay.

The sleep promotion initiative to reduce the frequency of delirium on two hospital units was created to allow for a period of uninterrupted sleep. The program consisted of reducing noise and interruptions during the overnight period. Patients are offered a sleep menu with a variety of options to increase their comfort at night. The project was carried out on a surgical spine and medical oncology unit. The results were astonishing, with significant decrease (40% reduction) in delirium. In addition, patients reported more satisfaction with their hospital stay.

Read more here.

Brenda Lyon Research Grant Awardees!

The Clinical Nurse Specialist Institute would like to congratulate two NACNS members in receipt of research grant funding from monies provided through a charitable donation by Brenda Lyon:

  • Mary Pat Johnston, MS, RN, AOCN, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Oncology, at the University of Wisconsin Cancer Center at ProHealth for her research study titled ‘Cancer Survivor Empowerment through Patient-Reported Outcomes’ and
  • Morgan Yordy, DNP, ACNS-BC, RN-BC at Auburn University School of Nursing for her research study titled ‘Improving Health Outcomes by Incorporating Animal Assisted Therapy in the K-12 School Setting.’

Read more about the Clinical Nurse Specialist Institute here.

ANA Announces 2020: Year of the Nurse

In honor of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the American Nurses Association has announced that 2020 will be honored as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. The ANA plans to celebrate 2020 by “engaging with nurses, thought leaders and consumers in a variety of ways that promote nursing excellence, infuse leadership and foster innovation.” This initiative includes expanding National Nurses Week from May 6-12 to the entire month of May.

NACNS supports this initiative to elevate nurses and applauds the ANA for this celebration.

Read more here:

ANA Website: Year of the Nurse 2020

Nursing World News