Linda Aiken of Penn Nursing Has Received Lienhard Award From Institute of Medicine

Linda Aiken, a professor of nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, has received the 2014 Gustav O. Lienhard Award from the Institute of Medicine for her research demonstrating the importance of nursing care and work environments in achieving patient-centered, affordable health care.

"Linda’s research on nursing, quality and the safety of patient care has far reaching implications for national and global health, and epitomizes the path breaking scholarship being done at Penn Nursing,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. "We are proud to have her contribution to nursing education, patient-to-nurse ratios and improved work environments recognized by the Institute of Medicine. Her pioneering work has had a critical effect on improving health care.”

The 29th recipient of the Lienhard Award, Aiken has focused her research career around successful patient outcomes, along with the roles that nurse education, workloads and working environments play in those outcomes. She’s taken her work one step further, by translating her research findings into practice and policy in the United States.

The main focus of her work has been increasing public awareness of nurses’ importance and improving their working conditions. She conducted empirical studies that found poor work environments led to harmful consequences for patients and high-turnover rates for nurses. Her research has resulted in changes in how hospitals, medical centers and other institutions perceive nurses.

Aiken’s research has found that nurses improve the quality of patient care, drawing national attention to the need for a well-educated nursing workforce and the importance of expanding nurses’ roles in health care. Her research data show that each 10 percent increase in the number of nurses with bachelor’s degrees correlated with a 5-7 percent decline in patient mortality rates and launched an industry-wide shift in hiring preferences.

The Lienhard Award recognizes outstanding national achievement in improving personal health care services in the U.S. It consists of a medal and $40,000.

“This prestigious honor puts Dr. Aiken in the company of many other great leaders who have pioneered impactful changes,” said Antonia Villarruel, dean of Penn’s School of Nursing. “She has brought global attention to the importance of nursing in improving quality, cost and safety in health-care settings. Dr. Aiken’s work supports the critical investment needed to optimize the educational preparation of the nursing work force, and her research will continue to have an impact as the health-care environment evolves. We are very proud to have her as a part of the legacy that is Penn Nursing, and we congratulate her on this achievement.”

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