Nurse Executives Give 2009 Researcher Award to Donna S. Havens

Chicago, IL (Friday, January 30, 2009)

Donna Sullivan Havens, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the recipient of the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) 2009 Nurse Researcher Award.  This award recognizes a nurse researcher who has made a significant contribution to nursing research and is recognized by the broader nursing community as an outstanding nurse researcher.

Dr. Havens is a professor in the school of nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she teaches and mentors doctoral students studying health care systems and outcomes. Havens’ career includes a rich blend of roles in nursing practice, academe, administration and research.  Her contributions to the profession are derived from a sustained pattern of research and leadership aimed at shaping environments for quality nursing practice and quality patient care.

Havens is one of a few researchers who is defining and translating evidence-based practice for executive nurse leaders and managers.  For more than 20 years, she has studied, published widely, consulted, and presented nationally and internationally about the nursing practice environment, focusing on nurse executive leadership and turnover, professional nursing practice, staff nurse decisional involvement, and magnet hospitals.  She describes the purpose of her work as “Designing systems to promote desired outcomes (how to do it and how to make it stick)”. She has made unique contributions to understanding how to implement and sustain features of professional nursing practice as demonstrated by more than 200 multi-national and cross-disciplinary citations of her work in 42 journals and in six current technical reports that influence health policy including “Keeping Patients Safe: Transforming the Work Environment for Nurses.” (Institute of Medicine, 2004).

Havens’ research has been knowledge generating as well as translational and her research has influenced policy and fueled initiatives to enhance the nursing practice and patient care environment.  She developed the Decisional Involvement Scale, an instrument which is being used extensively in the United States and internationally to identify levels of actual and desired staff nurse decisional involvement and to identify potential opportunities for change and to monitor change.

Havens’ translational research initiatives are guided by the literature on capacity development, positive organizational scholarship, complexity science and participatory action research that demonstrate true partnerships between research and practice to improve nursing practice and patient care.  She is the principle investigator of two five-year research initiatives aimed at translating what has been learned from research about the nursing work environment and outcomes into evidence-based leadership and management to improve the quality of nursing practice and patient care in hospitals.  The two studies, “Building Capacity for Better Work and Better Care” and “Spiraling Upward for Nurse Retention and Quality Care,” are funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Havens also served as the principle investigator of a study entitled “Why and How do Hospitals Pursue Magnet Recognition?” which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  She collaborated with AONE chief executive officer Pamela Thompson, MS, RN, FAAN,  and Dr. Cheryl Jones, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate professor, health care systems, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to conduct critical research on nurse executive turnover in a study entitled “Chief Nursing Officer Retention and Turnover: A Crisis Brewing.”

Havens has been a member of AONE since 1992 and served on its Helene Fuld Trust Expert Advisor Team in 2002-2003.  She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) as well as a member of AAN’s Expert Panel on Quality and Expert Panel on Magnet Advancements.  She is a member of the American Nurses Association, AcademyHealth and a former member of AcademyHealth’s Dissertation Award Committee.  She serves on the National Advisory Board of the Forum for Shared Governance and is a former member of the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Research Institute. In 2007, Havens received the Best Podium Presentation Award for “Designing Systems to Promote Desired Outcomes (How to Do It and How to Make it Stick) – A Model for Implementation” at the International Nursing Administration Research Conference.  She is also the recipient of the Villanova University Alumni Distinguished Contributions in Nursing Research Medallion.

Havens earned a diploma in Nursing from the Grace New Haven School of Nursing at the Yale Medical Center in New Haven, Conn., a BS in Nursing from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA, an MSN from Villanova University, and a PhD in Nursing with an emphasis in health services research from the University of Maryland.  She completed post-doctoral research on the organization of nursing and outcomes in the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

About the American Organization of Nurse Executives
The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) is the national professional organization for nurses who design, facilitate and manage care. With more than 6,000 members, AONE is the voice of nursing leadership in health care. Since 1967, the organization has provided leadership, professional development, advocacy and research to advance nursing practice and patient care, promote nursing leadership excellence and shape public policy for health care. AONE’s 48 affiliated state and metropolitan chapters and its alliances with state hospital associations give the organization’s initiatives a regional and local presence. AONE is a subsidiary of the American Hospital Association. More information about AONE can be found at


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