GW Nursing’s Karen Drenkard Receives 2020 Year of the Nurse Award

The award honors outstanding nurses throughout Virginia who have made exceptional contributions to the nursing profession during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Karen Drenkard
Associate Dean of Clinical Practice and Community Engagement Karen Drenkard came to GW Nursing in October 2019 and has played a critical role in the success of the university’s COVID-19 surveillance testing operations. (William Atkins/ GW Today)
December 04, 2020

By Kristen Mitchell

George Washington University School of Nursing Associate Dean of Clinical Practice and Community Engagement Karen Drenkard has been awarded the 2020 Year of the Nurse Award by the Virginia Nurses Foundation. Dr. Drenkard is one of 20 nurses across the commonwealth to receive this recognition during an unprecedented year in the nursing profession. 

The Year of the Nurse Award honors outstanding nurses at all levels throughout the commonwealth who have made exceptional contributions to nursing. In particular this year, the award highlights those who have been committed to Virginia’s fight against the spread of COVID-19.

"I feel honored and grateful, this was definitely a team effort that reflects the work of the university and the School of Nursing," Dr. Drenkard said. 

Dr. Drenkard came to GW Nursing in October 2019 and has played a critical role in the success of GW’s COVID-19 surveillance testing operations. Dr. Drenkard led the team that launched a COVID-19 testing site on the Virginia Science and Technology campus. Clinical faculty oversee the site operations while students get hands-on experience administering nasal swab collection to about 550 members of the university community every week.

This year has presented new challenges for the university, and preparing the next generation of nurses has never been so important. About 100 new Accelerated B.S.N. nurses educated at GW enter the local health care workforce at the end of every semester, making the school a vital pipeline for local hospitals and clinics. By participating in COVID-19 surveillance testing operations, students have been able to continue clinical experiences in the lab safely through the entire semester.

"On behalf of the GW School of Nursing, I just want to say how proud we are of Karen for receiving this award and for the amazing work she does every day to improve the lives of those around her," said Dean Pamela Jeffries. "It is wonderful that the Virginia Nurses Foundation is recognizing her for her outstanding leadership and for being compassionate, driven and determined to make a positive impact on the nursing profession."  

Dr. Drenkard leads multiple centers at GW, including Community Partnerships, the Center for Aging and Humanities, the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement and the School of Nursing Global Initiatives work. 

Prior to coming to GW, Dr. Drenkard served as chief nurse at GetWellNetwork, a health care technology company addressing patient and family engagement, where she led the creation of a research center advancing the science of patient engagement. She previously served as executive director at the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the Magnet® Recognition Program. Prior to her work at ANCC, Dr. Drenkard served for 10 years as the chief nurse executive of Inova Health System in Fairfax, Va.

Dr. Drenkard is an executive board member of the American Academy of Nursing and serves as the board liaison to the Institute for Nursing Leadership at the American Academy of Nursing. Dr. Drenkard serves as an editorial adviser to the Journal of Nursing Administration and Nursing Administration Quarterly. She is a member of the board of visitors for the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, Indiana University School of Nursing and is a board of trustee member for Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Md. She is also a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and the National Academies of Practice.

Dr. Drenkard’s achievement will be celebrated at a virtual gala hosted by the Virginia Nurses Foundation on Dec. 12.

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