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PSNA Awards

The Pennsylvania State Nurses Association (PSNA), representing more than 219,000 registered nurses in the Commonwealth, announced its 2015 PSNA award recipients. This year’s recipients are:


Lifetime Achievement Award

Elizabeth (Betsy) Walls, MBA, MSN, RN, Director of Personal Health Services

Chester County Health Department

The PSNA Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a PSNA member who has demonstrated leadership that has significantly impacted nursing practice, nursing education, nursing administration and/or nursing research within the Commonwealth. Betsy has been a tireless community volunteer and exemplary nurse advocate. With more than 25 years as a member of the PA National Guard and Medical Reserve Corp, her contributions to the health and safety of our Commonwealth are inspirational. A lifetime member of PSNA, Betsy served in various leadership roles including PSNA president (1999-2000, 1993-1994, 1994-1996). In addition, Betsy has been a luminary figure for the Nursing Foundation of Pennsylvania (NFP), a premiere charitable organization focused on ensuring nurses for tomorrow. Betsy currently serves as NFP president, where she guided the organization as it earned the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations’ (PANO) Seal of Excellence for completing a rigorous Standards for Excellence® accreditation program.


Distinguished Nurse of the Year

Roberta Waite, Ed D, APRN, CNS-BC, FAAN, Drexel University, Doctoral Nursing Department

Associate Professor & Assistant Dean of Academic Integration and Evaluation of Community Programs

The PSNA Distinguished Nurse of the Year Award recognizes a PSNA member who has demonstrated leadership characteristics and rendered distinguished service to the nursing profession, and whose contributions and accomplishments are of significance to the nursing. A transformational leader, Dr. Waite has served on the Mental Health Committee of the National Nursing Centers Consortium where she works inter-professionally to better serve populations in need and develop healthcare leaders who value social justice. Dr. Waite has dedicated much of her career to raising awareness on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). She served as the first registered nurse on the board of directors for the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) and is leading a team in collecting nationally-representative data on disability services offices at universities in the United States.


Emerging Nurse Leader Award

Paula Pearson Watkins, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Nurse Manager

Rhoads 7 Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplant Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

The PSNA Emerging Nurse Leader Award recognizes an RN who has completed the PSNA Star Leadership Institute program and demonstrates innovative thinking, a commitment to the advancement of nursing and transformational leadership. In late 2013, Paula led her unit team in achieving the Beacon Award for Excellence through the American Association for Critical Care Nurses. Her group has consistently achieved high patient satisfaction and nurse satisfaction scores. She is a team leader for an interdisciplinary performance improvement project aimed at improving inpatient safety and readiness for transport to radiology. In addition, she is a member of a team focused on reducing cancer patient falls. In summer 2015, Paula successfully launched the Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Fellowship Program, intended to stimulate the career interest and foster the professional development of potential oncology nurses. With her guidance, the Pennsylvania program supported three nurses from two different universities with the opportunity to shadow nurses in various roles in a comprehensive cancer program. Paula embodies the Star Leadership Institute’s goal of embracing change and accepting positions to design an improved healthcare system.


John Heinz Friend of Nursing Award:

Dan Clark (posthumously), Former State House Representative, Chief Counsel, Majority Appropriations

The PSNA John Heinz Friend of Nursing Award is given to a non-member who has demonstrated leadership that has significantly impacted nursing practice, nursing education, nursing administration, and/or nursing research within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. After retiring from the State House of Representatives in 2002, Daniel worked for the prime sponsor of PSNA’s Safe Staffing legislation, where he was instrumental in moving safe staffing legislation forward on behalf of the nurses of the Commonwealth. With Daniel’s guidance, PSNA authored a safe staffing study – the first of its kind in the nation. The results, released in Summer 2015, will greatly influence the writing of the 2015-2016 session legislation. Daniel made it a priority that the State’s professional nursing association was present during key legislative discussions. In a building that many feel is brimming with special interest groups and lobbyists, it was his mission to hear all sides of an issue and develop an equitable solution. Daniel passed away on September 28, 2014.



“PSNA would like to thank this year’s nominees. We heard from many dedicated nurse colleagues, read inspirational stories and learned about a lifetime of achievement by this group of special individuals,” stated PSNA Chief Executive Office Betsy M. Snook, MEd, BSN, RN. “After careful consideration, our 2015 recipients have earned a place of honor along with more than 300 past PSNA recipients who, as a group, have received recognition beginning in 1954.”

This year’s recipients will be presented with awards during a 2015 regional PSNA event. Their stories and achievements will also be shared in a future issue of PSNA’s peer-reviewed journal, Pennsylvania Nurse.


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