Distinguished Membership Award

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Recognizing outstanding leadership and participation in and contributions to the purposes of the American Nurses Association.

Distinguished Membership Award


Established in 1967 by the Board of Directors of the ANA, this award is presented to an SNA member or members in recognition of outstanding leadership and participation in and contributions to the purposes of the ANA.

2014 Recipient

Rebecca M. Patton, MSN, RN, CNOR, FAAN
Ohio Nurses Association

For decades, Rebecca M. Patton has dedicated her career to securing ANA’s credibility in the national policy arena, strengthening and improving relationships with the state nurses associations, individual nurses, and national and international nurses associations.

She launched her life as a nursing advocate by joining the Ohio Nurses Association (ONA) in 1980, the year she began her career as a staff nurse. Over the years, she served as treasurer and first vice president of the ONA Board of Directors. She maintains her Ohio ties through her continued involvement with the local ONA district.

Ms. Patton’s work at the national level began as a delegate to the ANA convention. She served on the ANA board first as a director and then as treasurer. From 1998 to 2002, as treasurer, Ms. Patton provided crucial leadership to restore ANA’s financial viability, realign its budgets with its priorities and successfully boost revenue through a membership dues campaign.

She later served as ANA president from 2006 to 2010, a time when the future of American health care was being hotly debated. Under her leadership, ANA became the prominent nurses association at the table in the health care reform discussion and its resultant legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. She ensured that nursing priorities received renewed focus among policyholders. ANA priorities regarding reimbursement, patients’ rights, staffing, nursing education funding, and the role of registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses were key examples of this work.

Ms. Patton facilitated a membership agreement that resulted in massive growth in ANA’s membership — and capacity for legislative advocacy — with the joint agreement between the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses and ANA, which added the voices of more than 40,000 perioperative nurses.

And in 2010, the Tri-Council for Nursing issued a consensus policy statement on educational advancement advocating that more nurses earn baccalaureate and higher degrees to meet the need for improved patient quality and safety. This notable achievement was decades in the making; Ms. Patton’s leadership was key to the agreement. Ms. Patton currently serves in the nation’s only Perioperative Endowed Professorship as the inaugural Atkinson Scholar of Perioperative Nursing at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, and as an ANA-appointed consultant to the National Student Nurses’ Association, guiding hundreds of nursing students to appreciate the value of a strong, national professional association while working to create opportunities for students and new

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