Happ Named 2021 AACN Distinguished Research Lecturer

Apr 08, 2021

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Mary Beth Happ, from The Ohio State University College of Nursing, is the 40th recipient of the prestigious award. Her research focuses on improving care and communication with communication-impaired patients, families and clinicians in high acuity and critical care settings

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. – April 8, 2021 – The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) recently selected Mary Beth Happ, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA, as its 2021 Distinguished Research Lecturer.

AACN established the award in 1982 to honor nurses who make significant contributions to acute and critical care research. The annual award recognizes research that changes or improves patient outcomes, and advances nursing education and practice.

With more than 22 years of external funding support, Happ has built a program of interdisciplinary, practice-based research focused on improving care and communication with communication-impaired patients, their families and clinicians during critical illness and at the end of life, particularly with patients receiving mechanical ventilation.

“As the 40th recipient of this prestigious award, Dr. Happ demonstrates the impact of nurse researchers on clinical practice and patient care,” said Elizabeth Bridges, PhD, RN, CCNS, FCCM, FAAN, president of the AACN board of directors and the 2015 recipient of the award. “Her work has given voice to the voiceless and helped nurses become better trained to work with patients who have communication disabilities and has improved the success of communication about pain and other symptoms.”

Happ is Nursing Distinguished Professor of Clinical Care Research and associate dean for research and innovation at The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Nursing, in Columbus. During her eight years with the university, the nursing school has strengthened its position as a premier research college, with approximately $10.7 million in research and development grants from external funders, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in fiscal year 2019.

Prior to joining OSU, she was a professor at the University of Pittsburgh for 12 years, where she held the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health System Endowed Chair in Nursing Science.

She led the NIH-funded “Study of Patient-Nurse Effectiveness With Assisted Communication Strategies” (SPEACS) to improve communication with non-vocal mechanically ventilated patients in the intensive care unit (ICU). The SPEACS study developed and tested a multicomponent intervention, which included communication skills training for nurses, communication tools and expert consultation.

She then led the SPEACS-2 online training program and toolkit for use with ICU patients. The program has been implemented in hospitals in the United States, Canada and Ireland. This work aims to eliminate or reduce misinterpretation of patient messages and to facilitate ICU liberation for vulnerable mechanically ventilated patients.

Recently, her work contributed to the development of a free online suite of tools and resources for healthcare professionals to utilize in the treatment and care of patients battling COVID-19 who are unable to speak.

In addition to her primary studies, she has collaborated as a co-investigator or sponsor with nursing and interprofessional colleagues on more than 15 different NIH-funded studies.

Happ co-writes the “Acute Care for the Elderly” column for Geriatric Nursing and serves on editorial boards for Heart and Lung and Journal of Gerontological Nursing. Her work is widely presented and published with authorship of more than 170 journal articles, editorials, invited papers, published abstracts and book chapters.

AACN previously honored Happ with its Circle of Excellence award in 2009. She was inducted into the Sigma Nursing Researcher Hall of Fame in 2015 and selected to present the Director’s Lecture for the National Institute of Nursing Research in 2017.

In addition to AACN, she is a member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the American Thoracic Society Nursing Assembly. As a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, Happ is a member and past co-chair of the Expert Panel for Acute and Critical Care. She is also a fellow in the Gerontological Society of America.

Happ completed a PhD and post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She is also an alumna of Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio, and the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland. The nursing schools at Penn and Case Western have recognized her with distinguished alumni awards, as has her high school, Greensburg Central Catholic High, in Ohio.

As the Distinguished Research Lecturer, Happ will discuss her career and research journey as part of AACN’s 2021 National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI). NTI will take place as a virtual event this year, May 24-27.

The American Journal of Critical Care will publish an abstract of Happ’s presentation in its May 2021 issue, followed by a complete manuscript in July 2021.

About AACN’s Distinguished Research Lectureship: AACN established the Distinguished Research Lectureship in 1982 to honor nationally known nurses who make significant contributions to acute and critical care research. The annual award recognizes research that changes or improves patient outcomes and advances nursing education and practice.

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 progressive 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; www.aacn.org; facebook.com/aacnface; twitter.com/aacnme