Brennan Receives AACN Award for Work at National Library of Medicine

Apr 21, 2022

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Award recognizes her contributions to information systems for patients and reinforces the value of data science for the future of healthcare

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. – April 21, 2022 – The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) will present Patricia Flatley Brennan, PhD, RN, with its AACN Pioneering Spirit Award.

The AACN Pioneering Spirit Award, one of AACN’s Visionary Leadership awards, recognizes significant contributions that influence progressive and critical care nursing and relate to the association’s mission, vision and values. The presentation will occur during the 2022 National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition in Houston, May 16-18.

Since 2016, Brennan has served as director of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), one of the 27 Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NLM is the world’s largest biomedical library and a global leader in biomedical informatics and computational health data science research. NLM is distinctive within NIH because of the substantial investment in sustainable biomedical information systems that make scientific literature, genomic, clinical and other types of biomedical data readily available to those who need it.

NLM’s expertise and vast repositories of information have been crucial to global efforts to combat COVID-19. Through its research and data banks, NLM is working with teams across NIH, other government agencies, and the larger scientific community to ensure they have the full perspective of biomedical information.

As director, Brennan has positioned the Library to be the hub of data science at NIH and a platform for data-driven discovery and decision-making. She is the first nurse to lead the organization.

“Dr. Brennan is a pioneer in the development of information systems for patients, and she continues to reinforce the value of data-driven decision-making in healthcare,” said AACN President Beth Wathen. “Her work has significantly contributed to improving access to health information while integrating scientific and technological advances to inform policy and support healthy lives for all people.”

Brennan received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Delaware, Newark, followed by a Master of Science in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in industrial engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison).

Following seven years of clinical practice in critical care nursing and psychiatric nursing, she held academic appointments at Marquette University, Milwaukee, and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland.

Before joining NLM, she was the Moehlman Bascom professor of nursing and industrial engineering at UW-Madison for 20 years. While there, she served as chair of the department of industrial and systems engineering and theme leader for the living environments laboratory at Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, a multidisciplinary research institute.

A past president of the American Medical Informatics Association, Brennan was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (now the National Academy of Medicine) in 2001. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, the American College of Medical Informatics and the New York Academy of Medicine.

In 2020, Brennan was inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). The AIMBE College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to a medical and biological engineer.

About the AACN Pioneering Spirit Award: The annual AACN Pioneering Spirit Award recognizes significant contributions that influence progressive 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. Other Visionary Leadership awards, AACN’s highest honor, include the Lifetime Membership 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: For more than 50 years, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has been dedicated to acute and critical care nursing excellence. 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. AACN is the world's largest specialty nursing organization, with more than 130,000 members and over 200 chapters in the United States.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 27071 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656; 949-362-2000;;;