AACN Honors Burns

May 06, 2016

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Suzi Burns to receive AACN Pioneering Spirit Award

Burns — one of the world’s foremost experts in pulmonary care and critical care nursing — honored for her efforts bridging the gap between nursing education and practice

 — May 5, 2016 — The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) will present Suzanne “Suzi” Burns, RN, MSN, RRT, ACNP, CCRN, FAAN, FCCM, FAANP, with its AACN Pioneering Spirit Award.

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. The presentation will occur during the 2016 National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition, New Orleans, May 16-19.

Burns spent more than 30 years on the clinical staff and faculty at the University of Virginia (UVA), School of Nursing, Charlottesville, where she now holds the position of professor emerita.

She continues to advance the profession as an independent consultant specializing in critical and progressive care nursing and clinical nursing research. She speaks and publishes widely on topics such as weaning, mechanical ventilation and clinical research.

“Suzi has been able to blend nursing, research and respiratory therapy into a career with far-reaching impact for patients and clinicians,” said AACN chief clinical officer Connie Barden, RN, MSN, CCRN-E, CCNS. “She is one of the world’s foremost experts in pulmonary care and critical care nursing, thanks to her work helping long-term ventilated patients wean successfully. She also created opportunities for advanced practice nurses, with practice models that bridge the gap between the real world of clinical practice and academia.”

Burns started her career as a staff nurse on a medical-surgical unit and then in a coronary care unit (CCU) in San Francisco in the late 1960s. She was among the first cohorts of CCU nurses in the city to complete a regional medical program uniquely designed to provide nurses with advanced cardiac knowledge and skills.

As a practitioner-teacher at UVA, she worked to ensure the implementation of best practices to improve clinical outcomes in all units and developed practice models using advanced practice nurses (APNs) to manage patients in unique ways.

Using her experience in critical care and additional training in respiratory therapy, Burns developed a comprehensive systematic approach to ventilator weaning and trained advanced practice nurses (APNs) in the technique, leading to favorable patient and financial outcomes. Now known as the Burns Wean Assessment Program, the assessment checklist is designed to assist clinicians in the systematic evaluation of 26 clinical factors important to weaning.

Within the hospital, she developed APN-managed practice models that included one of the country’s first long-term units for mechanically ventilated patients. Already a respected researcher in pulmonary care, she extended her work with bedside clinicians across UVA’s clinical settings and directed its clinical research program for eight years before her retirement in 2012.

In addition to her education in nursing and respiratory therapy, Burns earned bachelor and master’s degrees in nursing from UVA and completed its acute care nurse practitioner post-graduate program.

Burns has received numerous awards and honors from organizations including UVA, the UVA School of Nursing Alumni Association, the Society of Critical Care Medicine and Sigma Theta Tau. Because of the extent and scope of her practice, research, scholarship and collaborative work, she has received three professional organization fellowship designations: FAAN, FCCM, FAANP.

AACN has previously honored Burns with its Distinguished Research Lecturer award in 1998 and the Flame of Excellence in 2008. She is also a past member of the AACN board of directors.

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, California, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. AACN represents the interests of more than 500,000 acute and critical care nurses and includes more than 225 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.