Duke Honors Johnson with Lifetime Achievement Award

Mary Pauline “Polly” Johnson, MSN’80, RN, FAAN, is the recipient of the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON). Johnson is president and CEO of the Foundation for Nursing Excellence, an organization committed to improving health outcomes of North Carolina residents through policies and practices that enhance the practice of nursing. She will receive the award during a ceremony on Friday, April 20, 2012, from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the School of Nursing Auditorium.

"The Lifetime Achievement Award honors Polly Johnson’s unwavering advocacy for safe, effective patient care through nursing regulation and policies at the state, national, and international levels,” said Dean Catherine L. Gilliss, DNSc, RN, FAAN, Helene Fuld Health Trust Professor of Nursing and Vice Chancellor for Nursing Affairs. “Developing and advancing innovations that lead to consistent use of evidence and best practices in teaching and clinical practice are among the highest priorities for Duke University School of Nursing, and Polly is an inspiring example of how nurse leaders can transform health care for better health outcomes.”

In her present position at the Foundation for Nursing Excellence, Johnson oversees initiatives focused on leading the North Carolina Future of Nursing Action Coalition to implement priority recommendations outlined in the 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report, Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. The foundation also focuses on increasing the number of nurses with bachelor of science degrees in nursing in North Carolina, developing a statewide evidence-based transition-to-practice model, and creating a just and fair health care culture statewide.

Johnson also works to influence statewide health care policy through her current service on the boards of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, the North Carolina Center for Hospital Quality and Patient Safety, and FutureCare of North Carolina. Nationally, she has contributed to quality improvement in health care through her leadership roles with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and appointments to national patient safety-focused organizations and committees, including the IOM Health Professions Education Committee.

Johnson’s career includes working as a pediatric nurse clinician and clinical coordinator for the pediatric-neonatal nursing service at North Carolina Memorial Hospital. She has held academic appointments at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) and is an adjunct associate professor at the UNC-CH School of Nursing.

Several organizations have recognized Johnson for her work in nursing, including the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, which honored her with its R. Louise McManus Award, and the North Carolina Hospital Association, which gave her a Meritorious Service Award. She was inducted into the North Carolina Nurses Association Hall of Fame in 2008 and named a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2005. Her video documentary, North Carolina Nurses: A Century of Caring, received a Media Award from the American Academy of Nursing in 2003.

She earned a bachelor of science in nursing degree from The Ohio State University and a master of science in nursing degree from Duke.

About DUSONDuke University School of Nursing (DUSON), as a diverse community of scholars and clinicians, educates the next generation of transformational leaders in nursing, advances nursing science in issues of global import, and fosters the scholarly practice of nursing. In 2011, US News and World Report ranked Duke among the top seven graduate schools of nursing in the nation. The School offers masters, PhD, and doctor of nursing practice degrees, as well as an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing degree to students who have previously completed an undergraduate degree. More than 800 individuals enrolled for Spring 2012 classes, the largest number of students in the School’s 80-year history.

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