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AANP Announces National Leadership Award Recipients

Austin, TX – The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is pleased to announce recipients of the AANP 2017 National Leadership Awards. The two awards honor individuals who have contributed significantly to the national recognition and advancement of nurse practitioners. The awards will be presented during the AANP Opening General Session in Philadelphia on June 21.

The Towers Pinnacle Award was initiated in 2013 in honor of Jan Towers, PhD, NP-C, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP, a long-time health policy expert. The award is presented annually to an individual who, through policy, practice, or education, has made outstanding contributions resulting in increased national recognition for NPs and increased opportunities for NPs to provide care to patients.

The 2017 Towers Pinnacle Award goes to Penny Kaye Jensen, DNP, FNP-C, FAAN, FAANP. Dr. Jensen has been a leader in numerous state and national NP associations, holding the office of AANP president from 2010 - 2012. She continues to be on the front line nationally, advocating for the increased public visibility of NPs, which allows for direct patient access to the multitude of services provided by nurse practitioners. Her many efforts on behalf of the NP role has led to the increased public visibility of NPs and the removal of barriers to practice in multiple states across the country. Dr. Jensen has utilized her expertise and leadership in health care policy to formulate APRN regulation that will increase access to high quality, cost effective health care for veterans at VA facilities throughout the nation. She publishes and presents at state, regional and national levels on clinical, education and health policy issues. No matter what her role, Dr. Jensen continues to positively impact the health of the nation through her tireless work, leadership and vision.

The Sharp Cutting Edge Award was created in 1996 in honor of Nancy J. Sharp, MSN, RN, FAAN, a strong supporter of the NP role and a leader in national nursing organizations. Recipients of the Sharp Award have shown leadership through innovative services, technologies or advocacy activities that advanced NP practice and patient care on a national level.

Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN, CPNP/PMHNP, FAANP, FAAN, FNAP, is the recipient of the 2017 Sharp Cutting Edge Award. Dr. Melnyk is a seasoned pediatric NP, psych/mental health NP, educator, researcher, editor, and author with over 300 publications and five books. She is a nationally/internationally recognized expert in evidence-based practice (EBP), intervention research, child and adolescent mental health, and health and wellness. Dr. Melnyk has represented NPs in national health care arenas through service on the US Preventive Services Task Committee, the National Institutes of Health National Advisory Council for Nursing Research, and Center for Disease Control Laboratory Best Practice Workgroup, to name just a few. Throughout her career as an NP, Dr. Melnyk has endeavored to assure NPs receive excellent education while representing NPs at the highest level of our nation’s health care policy arena. She also founded the National Interprofessional Education and Practice Consortium of 150 participating colleges and organizations.

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
is the largest professional membership organization for nurse practitioners (NPs) of all specialties. It represents the interests of the more than 222,000 licensed NPs in the U.S. AANP provides legislative leadership at the local, state and national levels, advancing health policy; promoting excellence in practice, education and research; and establishing standards that best serve NP patients and other health care consumers. As The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner®, AANP represents the interests of NPs as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered health care. To locate a nurse practitioner in your community, go to For more information about NPs, visit