Researcher, ACNP Advocate Kleinpell Receives AACN Award

Apr 18, 2024

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Ruth Kleinpell, of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, receives the 2024 AACN Pioneering Spirit Award in recognition of her work to advance the practice of acute care nurse practitioners

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. — April 18, 2024 — The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) will present Ruth Kleinpell, PhD, APRN-BC, FAAN, FAANP, MCCM, 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 2024 National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition, Denver, May 20-22.

An internationally known researcher, author, educator and speaker, Kleinpell is considered a leading expert in the field of advanced practice nursing. From conducting the first survey looking at the role and outcomes related to acute care nurse practitioners (ACNPs) nearly 30 years ago to recent research assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on advanced practice nursing, she has helped build the cornerstone of the profession and advocated for removing barriers to full practice authority for nurse practitioners.

She is associate dean for clinical scholarship at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Nashville, Tennessee. In this role, she serves as a mentor to junior faculty for clinical scholarship and research initiatives, collaborates on clinical projects with Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), and supports VUMC advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) for various scholarship initiatives. She is also a professor and holds an endowed position as Independence Foundation Chair of Nursing Education.

Prior to joining Vanderbilt in 2017, she served for more than 25 years on the faculty at Rush University College of Nursing, Chicago, where she advanced from assistant professor to director of its Center for Clinical Research and Scholarship.

Throughout her career, Kleinpell has maintained her nursing practice, first as a staff nurse in the intensive care unit (ICU) for over 15 years while pursuing her graduate degrees, and then becoming one of the first certified ACNPs.

She has conducted research related to ACNP practice, patient outcomes in hospitalized older adults, post-discharge follow-up interventions using telehealth, and patient- and family-centered care in the ICU, among other funded studies.

She is currently serving as project director for an initiative funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, aimed at promoting patient and family engagement in research in the ICU.

She is a member of the TN Political Action Campaign, AARP Middle TN Leadership team and AARP TN State Executive Council.

Kleinpell received AACN’s 2010 Flame of Excellence award for sustained regional and national contributions to acute and critical care nursing.

She served as president of the multidisciplinary Society of Critical Care Medicine, which named her a Master of Critical Care Medicine and honored her with a Presidential Citation Award. Among her many accomplishments, she is a fellow of the National Academies of Practice, American Academy of Nursing and American Association of Nurse Practitioners, which recently presented her with its Legacy Award.

She earned her nursing diploma from Lutheran Medical Center School of Nursing, Cleveland, followed by her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from University of Illinois College of Nursing, Chicago. Her nurse practitioner studies were completed at Rush University.

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 about 130,000 members and nearly 200 chapters in the United States.

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