Nursing professor becomes an AAN Fellow


By: Sara Banton
Creative Services Student Writer

Melody Eaton - FAAN

The American Academy of Nursing (AAN) is a prestigious organization that promotes the nursing profession through education, practice, research and policy. Their fellows are the accomplished leaders and the members of the academy. Melody Eaton, a professor in the School of Nursing, recently received the designation of a Fellow in the AAN.

“It’s a great honor to be given this designation,” Eaton said. “It’s humbling. I want to make the Academy proud and continue to empower nurses to advocate in a really complex healthcare system. We need nurses to advocate for our clients, our families, our communities and vulnerable populations.”

To become a Fellow, candidates must submit an application and have two Fellows in good standing sponsor their application. With just 2,500 Fellows across the nation, the Academy is selective in their choices. Fellows must demonstrate accomplishments within the nursing profession prior to acceptance and afterwards continue to aid in transforming the United States’ health system. They challenge applicants by asking the impact and outcomes of their work and how they can contribute to the AAN.

Melody Eaton - FAAN

Pictured above: Melody Eaton (center) with her AAN sponsors, Robin Remsburg (left) and Julie Sanford (right) 

Eaton’s background includes work producing state, national and international impact. Chairing the Legislative Coalition of Virginia Nurses and collaborating with the Virginia Nurses Association (VNA), Eaton led a coalition of specialty groups implementing a model political action plan to achieve state budget improvements, leading to increased nursing program enrollments, workforce development and improved access and quality of care. As the VNA Commissioner on Nursing Education, she exponentially expanded Virginia nursing educational offerings and promoted nurses to ‘board’ membership. Partnering with the Virginia Action Coalition and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she headed initiatives contributing to an increase in RN-BSN graduates.

In addition, Eaton directed a faculty team to build a Health Policy Collaborative and engage interprofessional students in a Health Policy Summit, during which students study team-based learning to increase advocacy knowledge and skills. She also developed a Health Policy Institute, a Capitol Hill immersion pairing Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students with federal policymakers. She has also been awarded the March of Dines Nurse of the Year award and her advocacy work has been published in Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice, Peer Review and Nurse Educator.

“Everything I do reflects on the nursing program here,” Eaton said. “The more we get involved on state and federal levels and the more we set examples for students to get involved, the greater the chance that our students will influence health policy in the future. The knowledge I gain on any professional platform is brought back to our students to empower them to engage in the health policymaking process.”

As a Fellow herself, Julie Sanford, director of the School of Nursing, knows the significance of Eaton’s designation.

“Melody Eaton’s induction into the Academy of Nursing is a high honor and a reflection of her leadership and contributions to nursing education, civic engagement, and advocacy for quality health care,” Sanford said. “The School of Nursing benefits from her high profile recognition. It is a testament to a commitment to excellence and the quality of nurse educators in our school.”

In November, Eaton was formally inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2018

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