Critical care leader Sessler to be honored at NTI 2018

May 08, 2018

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Curtis Sessler — Virginia Commonwealth University professor, pulmonologist and critical care leader — to receive 2018 AACN Pioneering Spirit Award

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. – May 8, 2018 – The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) honors Curtis Sessler, MD, FCCP, FCCM, with the 2018 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 2018 National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition, Boston, May 21-24.

Sessler is the Orhan Muren Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System, Richmond. He also serves as director of VCU’s Center for Adult Critical Care, medical director of critical care and medical director of the medical respiratory intensive care unit. He has practiced, taught and conducted research at VCU for more than 30 years, since completing fellowship training in pulmonary and critical care medicine.

Sessler has enjoyed a long career in critical care medicine focusing on patient care, teaching, clinical research and advancing collaborative care of critically ill patients. He has a long-term collaboration with research colleagues from VCU School of Nursing, studying a variety of clinical problems, including ICU sedation, prevention of nosocomial infection, mechanical ventilation and procedural competency. Under his leadership, the interprofessional group created and validated the Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale, which is used worldwide to help improve the management of pain, sedation and delirium in critically ill patients.

“Dr. Sessler has worked side-by-side with critical care nurses throughout his career, leading to multiple advances in critical care,” said AACN board president Christine S. Schulman, MS, RN, CNS, CCRN-K. “He has been instrumental in building partnerships between critical care societies and addressing numerous issues important to our patients, our colleagues and our professions.”

He has held numerous leadership roles in the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), serving as president in 2014-2015. CHEST has recognized his research, leadership and service with numerous honors, including its 2017 Distinguished CHEST Educator Award, 2016 Art Wheeler Memorial Lecture Award and 2010 Roger C. Bone Memorial Lecture Award.

Sessler has also participated in many activities of the Critical Care Societies Collaborative, which links the leaders of AACN, CHEST, the American Thoracic Society and the Society of Critical Care Medicine. This group has addressed numerous issues central to critical care such as research priorities, workforce shortage, clinical competencies, Choosing Wisely in Critical Care and most recently burnout among critical care healthcare professionals. 

He has published more than 300 articles, chapters, books and abstracts. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Chest and other journals and is a co-editor of the board examination review textbook CHEST SEEK: Self-Education and Evaluation of Knowledge in Critical Care Medicine.

Sessler received his bachelor’s degree at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He completed residency training in internal medicine at Wake Forest University Medical Center, where he was chief resident.

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 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 half a million acute and critical care nurses and has more than 200 chapters throughout the United States. 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, CA 92656-4109; 949-362-2000;;;