Profile photo Elaine Larson

Columbia Nursing’s Elaine Larson named a ‘Living Legend’ by the American Academy of Nursing, the Academy’s highest honor

Academy Will Honor Living Legends at Annual Policy Conference in October

NEW YORK - The American Academy of Nursing announced Elaine Larson, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate dean for research at Columbia Nursing, as one of five nurse leaders to receive its highly acclaimed designation of Living Legend. Exceptionally accomplished in nursing and health care over the course of their careers, these trailblazers will officially receive the Academy's highest honor at a special ceremony during its policy conference in Washington, D.C. on October 5, 2017.


"I am delighted to designate these five eminently deserving individuals as Academy Living Legends for the many excellent contributions they have made to the nursing profession and health care," said Academy President and Dean of Columbia University School of Nursing Bobbie Berkowitz, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN in a statement released by AAN. "With interests ranging from women's health and community-based nursing to oncology, infectious diseases and quality and safety education, each of them embodies leadership and a steadfast commitment to improving the health of people."


The Academy recognizes a small number of Fellows as Living Legends each year, and Dr. Larson is the first from Columbia Nursing to receive the prestigious distinction.


“As Dean of Columbia University School of Nursing, it is an honor to see this distinction bestowed upon Elaine Larson,” said Berkowitz. “Dr. Larson has dedicated her professional career to fostering nursing research as well as to mentoring our future nurse scientists. Her contributions to our profession are felt far and wide, particularly in the fields of infection prevention, antimicrobial resistance, and hand hygiene. She exemplifies leadership.”


To be eligible, the Living Legend must have been an Academy Fellow for at least 15 years and have demonstrated extraordinary, sustained contributions to nursing and health care. The following nurses will be honored as 2017 Living Legends in recognition of the multiple contributions they have made to nursing that continue to reverberate throughout the health services field today.


The American Academy of Nursing 2017 Living Legends:


Elaine L. Larson, PhD, RN, CIC, FAAN, is an international expert in infection prevention, antimicrobial resistance, and hand hygiene.  Her contributions have changed the way healthcare is delivered by emphasizing the importance of infection prevention and hand hygiene for all health professionals. The interdisciplinary nature of her work is evident in the breadth and wide dissemination of her 500 scholarly publications. She has served on prestigious national advisory groups and grant review panels, and generously mentored countless clinical research nurses. Currently professor and associate dean for research at Columbia University School of Nursing and Mailman School of Public Health, Dr. Larson has been the editor of the American Journal of Infection Control since 1995.


Linda R. Cronenwett, PhD, RN, FAAN, is renowned for leadership in improving healthcare quality and safety, promoting advanced nursing practice, and integrating research, education, and nursing practice. A pioneer of grounding research in practice, she models ways of bridging theory and clinical problems to improve outcomes. Dr. Cronenwett led the sweeping Quality & Safety Education in Nursing initiative that continues to improve patient care. She challenged the profession to develop a coherent sense of advanced practice nursing, and published widely on the subject. Currently professor, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and co-director, Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellows Program, Dr. Cronenwett serves on many national healthcare boards and councils.


Carolyn A. Williams, RN, PhD, FAAN, former president of the American Academy of Nursing (1983-85), has had a profound impact on public health epidemiology and nursing education. Her groundbreaking work advocates for population-focused research and care to be cornerstones of community health. Dr. Williams was actively involved in efforts that led to the creation of the National Institute for Nursing Research. She championed the growth of primary care nurse practitioners and the evolution of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). As Dean of the University of Kentucky College of Nursing (1984-2006), she opened the nation’s first DNP program. As president of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2000-02) she pressed for development of the DNP nationally.


Nancy Fugate Woods, PhD, RN, FAAN, former president of the American Academy of Nursing (1989-91), is an internationally recognized women’s health expert and a strong voice for diversity in nursing. Her pioneering research exploring the many dimensions of the menstrual cycle, menopause, and post-menopause, has resulted in an improved understanding of factors influencing symptoms. As Dean of the University of Washington School of Nursing (1998-2008), Dr. Woods issued a public apology for institutional racism that served as a catalyst toward improvements at her institution, and within the profession. She was instrumental in the creation of a diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan that became a template for efforts throughout the university and at other nursing schools.


Connie Henke Yarbro, MS, RN, FAAN, is a visionary leader in interdisciplinary cancer care, practice and research.  She pioneered the role of the oncology nurse at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1972 with the first physician/nurse practitioner model in cancer care. She co-founded the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) in 1975 and led the development of practice standards and chemotherapy guidelines.  In 1981, Ms. Yarbro founded the ONS Foundation, which has provided over $26 million in research grants and awards.  She has contributed heavily to oncology nursing’s knowledge base through publications, including Cancer Nursing: Principles and Practice, the "bible" of the field. A past board member and president of the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care, Ms. Yarbro  has co-led breast cancer training programs for nurses in 20 countries.


Click here to see the press release released by the American Academy of Nursing on the announcement. 

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