News: Education Innovator Lenburg Receives AACN Award

Editorial Contact:
Kristie Aylett
AACN Communications
(228) 229-9472

Carrie Lenburg to receive AACN Pioneering Spirit Award

Lenburg — inaugural coordinator of the first self-directed, distance learning nursing degree program — will be honored for her groundbreaking work in transforming nursing education

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. — March 12, 2014 — Carrie B. Lenburg, RN, EdD, FAAN, ANEF, a pioneer in nursing education, will receive the AACN Pioneering Spirit Award in recognition of her career-long focus on innovative educational models, with an emphasis on competency performance and program evaluation.

The award, from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), will be presented at the 2014 National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition, Denver, May 17–22. This AACN Visionary Leadership Award recognizes significant contributions that influence high acuity and critical care nursing and relate to the association’s mission, vision and values.

Nearly 60 years ago, Lenburg began her career as a staff nurse at University Hospitals of Cleveland before transitioning into nursing education and research. Today, she advises nurse administrators, educators and other healthcare professionals in the United States and abroad on developing innovative outcomes and competency-based education programs through her Tennessee-based consulting firm, Creative Learning & Assessment Systems (CLAS).

Her groundbreaking work began in the early 1970s during her tenure with the research division of the National League for Nursing (NLN). She conducted ongoing national surveys and coordinated the National Open Curriculum Study of mobility opportunities in all NLN-accredited schools, creating the first “Directory of Career Mobility Opportunities in Nursing Education.”

She was selected as the founding coordinator of the nursing program at Regents College of The University of the State of New York, Albany, now called Excelsior College. As the world’s first self-directed, external nursing degree, the highly controversial program introduced a distance learning model that completely transformed nursing education.

For 17 years, until 1991, Lenburg oversaw the development, implementation and evaluation of the Regents College program, leading to radical changes in how the art and science of nursing was taught, learned, assessed and practiced.

Her efforts resulted in the creation of the initial national network of eight regional clinical performance assessment centers in six states and an intensive training program for hundreds of clinical examiners. As a result, thousands of nurses who graduated from diploma and associate degree programs from across the country could earn bachelor’s degrees closer to home.

In 1990–93, she initiated collaboration among Regents, King Faisal Hospital in Saudi Arabia and nine other educational agencies that resulted in the creation of the Center for Distance Learning at King Faisal, making it possible for nurses from throughout the world who worked there to earn a BSN from Regents College.

Her landmark Competency Outcomes and Performance Assessment (COPA) Model provides a structured framework designed to organize learning and performance evaluation focused on outcomes and the core competencies required in practice.

Lenburg is a diploma graduate of Norfolk General Hospital School of Nursing, Norfolk, Va., and earned a BSN and MSN from Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland.

In 1968, she was among the first cohort accepted into the new nurse scientist program at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, where she earned master’s and doctoral degrees with dual majors in education research and sociology.

She is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and was inducted as a Living Legend in 2007. The NLN has honored her with its President’s Award for an Enduring Living Legacy in Nursing Education, in addition to inducting her into the inaugural class of Fellows of its Academy of Nursing Education.


About the AACN Pioneering Spirit Award: The annual AACN Pioneering Spirit Award recognizes significant contributions that influence high acuity and critical care nursing regionally and nationally, and relate to AACN’s mission, vision and values. Recipients of this Visionary Leadership Award come from business, academia and healthcare, and receive a plaque and $1,000 honorarium at the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition. Other Visionary Leadership Awards, AACN’s highest honor, include AACN’s Lifetime Member Award, Honorary Member Award and the Marguerite Rodgers Kinney Award for a Distinguished Career.

About the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition: Established in 1974, AACN’s National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI) represents the world’s largest educational conference and trade show for nurses who care for acutely and critically ill patients and their families. Bedside nurses, nurse educators, nurse managers, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners attend NTI.

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: Founded in 1969 and based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. AACN joins together the interests of more than 500,000 acute and critical care nurses and claims more than 235 chapters worldwide. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 101 Columbia, Aliso Viejo, Calif. 92656-4109;
Phone: (949) 362-2000; Fax: (949) 362-2020; www.aacn.org; facebook.com/aacnface; twitter.com/aacnme

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