Flame of Excellence Award

The AACN Circle of Excellence recognizes and showcases excellence in the care of acutely and critically ill patients and their families.

Each year, beginning in 2009, up to 25 individuals will receive Circle of Excellence Awards. They become permanent members of the AACN Circle of Excellence Society along with all past recipients of AACN awards.

Each year since 2008, up to three exceptional individuals from the Society are selected to receive the Flame of Excellence Award, which recognizes sustained contributions of excellence in acute and critical care nursing.

Eligibility and Criteria

Nominees for the Flame of Excellence Award are active members of AACN and members of the Circle of Excellence Society who consistently demonstrate outcomes associated with the award criteria at a high level and with broad reach.

  • Relentlessly promotes patient-driven excellence
  • Models skilled communication, true collaboration, effective decision making and meaningful recognition
  • Transforms thinking, structures and processes to address challenges and remove barriers to advance patient-driven excellence
  • Furthers AACN’s mission and key initiatives at influential forums
  • Enriches own and other organizations by influencing and mentoring others in achieving excellence
  • Achieves visible results that validate impact of individual leadership contribution to organizational excellence

Nomination and Selection

AACN requests the nominee’s biographical information and vita. The association also will obtain at least two independent letters of support from individuals who can speak to how the nominee demonstrates outcomes associated with the award criteria. The Board of Directors of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses unanimously selects the awardees.


Each awardee receives a $500 honorarium and a crystal replica of the AACN vision icon. Travel and lodging expenses are provided to receive the award at the AACN National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition.

Year Flame of Excellence Recipients
  • Paula Lusardi
  • Reynaldo "Rey" Rivera
  • Julie Stanik-Hutt
  • Anne Alexandrov
  • Mary Fran Hazinski
  • Denise Thornby (posthumous)
  • Margaret Campbell
  • Barbara Ann Erickson
  • Carol Jacobson
  • Elizabeth J. Bridges
  • Mary Jo Grap
  • Barbara L. ‘Bobbi’ Leeper
  • Marla De Jong
  • Ruth Kleinpell
  • Mary Kay Bader
  • Connie Barden
  • Mary Lou Sole
  • Thomas S. Ahrens
  • Suzanne M. Burns
  • Karen K. Carlson (posthumous)


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