President-Elect: Karen McQuillan


Karen McQuillan, RN, MS, CNS-BC, CCRN, CNRN, FAAN
Lead Clinical Nurse Specialist

R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center,
University of Maryland Medical Center
Baltimore, Md.

Experience and Activities

Chapter Membership

  • Chesapeake Bay Chapter, 1987–present

AACN Commitment and Involvement in the Past 3 Years

Includes how the candidate integrated AACN's mission and work into her current role and practice. Local and national volunteer activities are listed, if applicable.

  • Director, AACN Certification Corporation Board, July 1, 2012–present
  • Director, AACN Board of Directors July 1, 2011–present
  • American Journal of Critical Care, author of Clinical Pearls (nine published), 2009–present
  • “Cervical and High Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury” for Currents in Critical Care & Progressive Care Symposium 2013 for Mountain to Sound Chapter, Seattle, Oct. 29, 2013
  • “Hypothermia: A Cool Way to Save Neurons,” Delmarva Chapter meeting, Salisbury, Md., June 12, 2013
  • “Current Management of Traumatic Brain Injury,” Odyssey Conference sponsored by Greater Richmond Chapter and Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Richmond, Va., March 12, 2013
  • Liaison for AACN, 2013 National Nursing Research Roundtable: The Science of Chronic Illness Self-Management sponsored by National Institute of Nursing Research and American Nurses Association, Bethesda, Md., March 7-8, 2013
  • “Spinal Cord Injury” brief presentation and keynote speaker introduction at AACN Chapter Presidents Luncheon, Orlando, Fla., May 23, 2012
  • “Hypothermia: A Cool Way to Save Neurons,” at Critical Care Nursing: The Future is Now! sponsored by Chesapeake Bay Chapter, Towson, Md., March 21, 2012

Key Professional Activities Outside AACN in the Past 3 Years

Includes involvement with other professional organizations, teaching and/or speaking.

  • “Cervical and High Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury” and AACN President Vicki Good’s Address, “How Will You ‘Step Forward’?” for 21st Century Visions of Nursing 10th Annual Conference, Christiana Hospital, Newark, Del., Sept. 11, 2013
  • “Fostering Collaboration and Teamwork” and “Spinal Cord Injuries: Assessment and Management,” Trauma 2012 Integrated Approach to Trauma Care International Congress, CME Live Workshop and Fifth Annual Conference of the Indian Society for Trauma and Acute Care, New Delhi, India, Nov. 23–25, 2012
  • Tuma MA, Stansbury LG, Stein DM, McQuillan KA, Scalea TM. Induced hypothermia after cardiac arrest in trauma patients: a case series. J Trauma. 2011;71(6):1524-7. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31823c5a06.

Issues Statement

Healthcare knowledge and technology have advanced to the point where we now sustain life in patients who would have died from their illness or injury. Our technical success means we often face colliding challenges.

One challenge is providing for those patients who develop a long-term dependence on intensive care.

Another challenge is more personal. It’s the moral distress we inevitably experience when we provide care that may not be in a patient’s best interest. It may even be futile. 

The frustration and discontent when these challenges collide can make us want to leave our job. Or even leave nursing. If we can’t get our arms around these issues, we’ll be unable to retain competent and caring nurses in high acuity and critical care.

AACN has responded with a position statement, the 4 A’s to Rise Above Moral Distress Handbook and Facilitator’s Toolkit and a special summit at this year’s NTI.

And many hospitals welcome our engagement with the Ethics Committee, encourage us to actively participate in multidisciplinary decision making about patient care, promote proactive development of patient advance directives and foster appropriate use of palliative care.

Yet moral distress continues to challenge many of us. And it’s not going away. Not only because of advancing technology, but because we are professionals with integrity who have a clear sense of right and wrong.

AACN remains poised to continue its pivotal role collaborating with colleagues in other disciplines to identify new evidence, using it to develop best practices that effectively support us in confronting our moral distress.

It’s what AACN’s community does exceptionally well: Driven by solid values and an ethic of care, we make possible healthy work environments that attract nurses to provide care centered on patients and their families.

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