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Office of Nursing Services (ONS)


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National Nursing Awards

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VA nurses have been widely recognized for their instrumental work in initiating, developing, implementing, and monitoring the practices and policies that has made VA one of the world’s foremost authorities in patient safety and quality outcomes, evidenced by performance measures – an exceptional achievement by any assessment.

Nursing Innovation Awards

The Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) Nursing Innovation Awards program, a national award mechanism created and launched in 2003, annually recognized nursing leadership in quality improvement. VA Nursing staff are known to be dynamic change agents, influencing practice and system-wide initiatives. This award ended in 2014.

2013 Award Winners:  Prevention of Hospital Acquired Pressure Ulcers: GETTING TO ZERO  

2012 Award Winners: Prospective Risk Management: Creating and Sustaining the High Reliability Organization 

2011 Award Winners: Achieving Patient Driven Care Through Highly Functioning Teams 

2010 Award Winners: Strategies For Implementing And Sustaining The Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) Role

2009 Award Winners: Improving Services for Special Populations

2008 Award Winners:  Professional Practice Environment for Nursing Excellence

2007 Award Winners:  Evidence-Based Nursing Practice

2006 Award Winners:  Advanced Clinic Access: Redesign for Improved Patient Outcomes and/or Healthcare Delivery Processes Beyond Primary Care

2005 Award Winners:  Best Practice Innovation

Secretary of VA's Awards for Excellence in Nursing & for Advancement in Nursing Programs

The VA Secretary's Awards in Nursing Excellence program, established in 1984, annually honors one Medical Center Diredtor, Nurse Executive (NE), Registered Nurse (RN) in a staff nurse role and one in a non-staff nurse role, i.e. advanced practice nurse, nurse manager, instructor, etc., a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), and a Nursing Assistant (NA) actively engaged in the care of patients at a VA Medical Center (VAMC). The recipients' contributions to the care of patients in any VA health care setting are patient-driven and demonstrate such excellence as to merit recognition from peers. This award is given only once to an individual.

The Secretary's Awards consists of three major areas: Excellence in Nursing, Advancement of Nursing Programs by a Medical Center or Health Care System Director, and Advancement of Nursing Programs by a Medical Center or Health Care System Nurse Executive. The award categories for Medical Center or Health Care System Director and Medical Center or Health Care System Nurse Executive were added in 1993 and 2003, respectively. The Health Care Technician (HCT) was included in the Nursing Assistant award category in 2006. Secretary's Award Directive  (Updated April, 2012)

2015 Secretary Of Veterans Affairs’ Awards For Excellence In Nursing And For The Advancement Of Nursing Programs Winners

(Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Nursing)
Photos and Bios of Winners

Registered Nurse staff role: Christine Payne, BSN
South Texas Veterans Health Care System, San Antonio, TX

Registered Nurse expanded role: Audrey Graham-O’Gilvie, RN, DNP (C), MSN, CCRN, CNS-BC
VA Hudson Valley Health Care System, Montrose, NY

Licensed Practical Nurse role: Brian Izzo, LPN
Alaska VA Healthcare System, Anchorage, AK

Nursing Assistant role: Nathaniel Robinson
Hampton VA Medical Center, Hampton, VA

Medical Center Director: Elizabeth Freeman, FACHE
Palo Alto VA Medical Center, Palo Alto, CA

Nurse Executive: Deborah Clickner, DNP, RN, NE-BC
Providence VA Medical Center, Providence, RI

Previous Years Winners


Let's Get Certified! Campaign Awards

ONS created a national award to recognize nursing leadership in supporting nurses obtaining specialty certification. Its purpose is to serve as a catalyst for new and creative ideas initiated and led by VA Nursing staff to develop a comprehensive program to promote, support, reward and recognize specialty nursing certification. See award details and previous year winners. Entries submitted by VA facilities were of two award types for which prizes were given.  See more information about previous award winners