AANP's National Leadership Awards — the Sharp Cutting Edge Award and the Towers Pinnacle Award — honor two individuals who have contributed significantly to the national recognition and advancement of nurse practitioners (NPs). Nominations for the 2020 AANP National Leadership Awards closed on March 11 and the recipients are honored below.
The Sharp Cutting Edge Award was initiated in February 1996 in honor of Nancy J. Sharp, MSN, RN, FAAN, an exemplar in the world of nursing organizational leadership for more than two decades. Nancy demonstrated a decisive positive influence for NPs, both professionally and politically. Not an NP herself, Nancy nevertheless left a legacy of early and steadfast service for NPs. Through her vision, foresight and service to the NP profession, Nancy focused on public policy issues clarifying the legislative and regulatory processes. She also utilized innovative strategies to meet major milestones as office staff and volunteer leader in national nursing organizations. Examples of her many accomplishments are: National President, American Nephrology Nurses Association (1981-1983); Director, Practice and Legislation, Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, Neonatal Nurses (1982-1990); Founding Director, Nurse in Washington Internship (1985-1992); Editor-Publisher, “The Nurse’s Directory of Capitol Connections: A Directory of Positions and Opportunities for Nurse Participation in Health Policy Development” (1991-2000); Nurse Representative, U.S. Joint Working Group on Telehealth (1993-1997).
Mary Jo Goolsby, EdD, MSN, NP-C, FAANP, was awarded the 2020 Sharp Cutting Edge Award. Goolsby has held a variety of professional practice, administrative and teaching positions, leveraging all opportunities to increase awareness of the NP role and challenge barriers to full practice authority. Her latest innovative and entrepreneurial endeavor was the establishment of the Institute of NP Excellence (INPE), which promotes excellence in NP practice and outcomes that are based on evidence and research. During her 11 years on staff with AANP, Goolsby created the AANP Fellows (FAANP) mentorship program, as well as the FAANP Forum Committee, both of which have been very active and have impacted hundreds of NPs. An emphasis on the technology, innovation and advocacy needed to impact and advance the NP role is evident in her more than 60 research projects, publications (three books, more than 30 articles and more than 100 presentations) and positions as a practitioner, educator, leader, researcher, mentor and national officer. Goolsby’s critical research has been conducted, analyzed and published, leading to improvements in NP-provided patient care.
As of 2020, AANP is proud to have recognized eight Sharp Cutting Edge Award recipients, along with 15 recipients honored by the American College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP), for their leadership and innovation in advancing NP practice and patient care. In 2021, AANP will be celebrating 25 years of Sharp Cutting Edge Awards!
Meet the awardees:
The recipient of the Sharp Award should demonstrate extraordinary service activities on behalf of NPs. The individual nominated may be an NP, nurse or non-nurse who has demonstrated exceptional belief and confidence in NPs and shown efforts to advance the image, profile and visibility of NPs by serving in one or more of the following areas:
The Towers Pinnacle Award was launched in 2013 by the AANP Board of Directors of in honor of Jan Towers, PhD, NP-C, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP, an accomplished and much admired leader in the NP movement. Dr. Towers has been at the forefront of legislative and regulatory issues, guiding health policy initiatives to ensure that NPs and their patients are represented wherever health care is being discussed. She has informed and educated numerous NPs on issues related to health policy through presentations at regional and national conferences. Her steadfast commitment, keen insight and vigilance have served to guide and direct NPs toward their current recognition as reimbursable providers of high-quality health care nationwide. The result of her life’s work is increased awareness by legislators and the general public of NPs’ contributions to health care, as well as advancement in expanding the scope of practice for NPs, advocating for equity in pay for services and expanding the commitment of NP professional organizations to provide leadership on health policy issues. Recipients of this prestigious award should exemplify Dr. Towers’ advocacy, passion and dedication to the advancement of the NP role through policy, practice and education.
The 2020 Towers Pinnacle Award was presented to Sheldon D. Fields, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, AACRN, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN, for his long-term work as a front-line family nurse practitioner (FNP) in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In 2009, Fields was the first male nurse chosen to be a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow. He worked as a health care policy advisor for Senator Barbara Mikulski, whose office played a key role in the passage of the ACA. As a nurse leader, Fields’ work with the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) — the world’s largest HIV nursing organization — demonstrates his strong commitment to nursing research and practice. Fields’ work as an NP and scientist transcends both behavioral and clinical trials, and he was recently selected as a co-investigator on a large, multi-site Phase IIb/Phase III clinical trial (HIV Prevention Trials Network [HPTN] 083) investigating an injectable medication for HIV prevention. His work continues to move the field of culturally tailored prevention science forward while increasing awareness of NP-led clinical trials and scientific excellence both within the HPTN, as well as in the global field of HIV research.
Meet the awardees:
The recipient of the Towers Pinnacle Award will demonstrate ongoing advocacy activities that elevate and highlight NP contributions to health care. The individual nominated will preferably be an NP; however, consideration will be given to other individuals who have made outstanding contributions resulting in increased recognition of NPs and increased opportunities for NPs to provide care to patients through ongoing work in policy, practice and education in one or more of the following areas: