Marianne Baernholdt, Pam Cipriano, Lisa Letzkus, AAN 2023
Dean Marianne Baernholdt, dean emerita and ICN president Pam Cipriano (an Academy 'Living Legend'), and alumna and UVA Health nurse scientist Lisa Letzkus celebrate at the 2023 Academy meeting.

International Council of Nurses president Pam Cipriano and UVA Health nurse scientist, nurse practitioner, and alumna Lisa Letzkus (PhD '16) were honored at an Oct. 5 American Academy of Nursing ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Cipriano, dean emerita and two-term president of the American Nurses Association, was feted as an Academy "Living Legend" at the event, one of six American nurses so honored. Letzkus, a pediatric nurse practitioner who works on UVA Health's developmental pediatrics unit and is an assistant professor of medicine in the School of Medicine, was inducted as an Academy Fellow.


As a doctoral nursing student, Letzkus studied the environmental effects that might contribute to pediatric patients’ “storming,” a mysterious phenomenon among still-unconscious children with traumatic brain injuries who may exhibit a fever without a source of infection, elevated blood pressure, respiration or heart rate, or the assumption of distressed postures. That work for her dissertation, “Improving outcomes following pediatric brain injury”—which earned her the 2015 Suzie Burns Grant from the School of Nursing and UVA Health—dovetailed with her study of novel red-light nursing intervention that enabled patients to get more shut-eye during hospital stays.

Letzkus, a 2020 iTHRIV scholar and UVA Center for Design and Health fellow, also studied interventions parents can do with their infants to encourage brain development. Formerly, she was academic coordinator of the School's acute care pediatric nurse practitioner program.

Cipriano—renowned for raising the voice, visibility, and stature of nurses over the course of her more than 40 years as a nurse—has held leadership positions across a variety of academic, organizational, and healthcare organizations, including at the helm of UVA School of Nursing (2019-2022) and as chief nursing officer at UVA Health, which earned its initial Magnet designation during her tenure.

Currently president of the International Council of Nurses and two-term president of the American Association of Nursing (2014-2018), Cipriano is and has been a leading voice advocating for safe, supportive nursing environments and championed the well-being of the global workforce of 28 million nurses.

Also present at the Academy celebration were fellow Academy Fellows Marianne Baernholdt, dean and professor, Melissa Gomes, associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion, Randy Jones, associate dean for partner development and engagement, and Shelly Smith, interim associate dean for academic programs and director of advanced practice programs.

All photos by Erika Nizborski photography.