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The NPAA awards serve as a testament to the individuals in Alabama who are making a difference in the lives of their patients and students and as recognition for those delivering and advocating for outstanding patient care. These awards provide an opportunity to give recognition to individual health care providers, educators, or advocates --- the in-the-trenches team members and the leaders who inspire, motivate, and empower others around them --- to make a difference in the lives of those for whom they provide care. 


The Outstanding NP Regional Award for the Bay Area is being presented to Dr. Ardie Pack-Mabien. As a family nurse practitioner, Dr. Pack-Mabien has provided compassionate and comprehensive medical for pediatric and adult patients with sickle cell disease at the University of South Alabama Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center for over 20 years. She has played an instrumental role in several NIH and pharmaceutical sponsored clinical trials and site initiated research studies involving patients with sickle cell disease. She recently served as co-investigator of a study examining the prevalence of iron overload in adults with sickle cell disease who have received intermittent red blood cell transfusions. Dr. Pack-Mabien is a resource for all members of the healthcare team and serves the USA Sickle Cell Center extremely well. 

The Outstanding NP Regional Award for Central Alabama is being presented to Katrina Smith. Katrina is a family nurse practitioner who serves in the role of lead nurse practitioner at the UAB Cardiovascular Surgery Outpatient Clinic. She has over 30 years’ experience in acute cardiovascular care and recently completed a Certificate in Healthcare Management. She has received numerous awards, including UAB Medicine’s Advanced Practice Employee of the Year award. Katrina is definitely an advocate for the role of the nurse practitioner, and she serves as an excellent role model to her peers. 

The Outstanding NP Regional Award for North Alabama is being presented to Amy Spearman. Amy Spearman is a family nurse practitioner who practices at Thrive Alabama, the only HIV/AIDS Medical Clinic and AIDS Service Organization providing care to communities in North Alabama. Immediately upon joining the clinic, Amy opened a non-HIV STD clinic (Thrive Wellness Clinic) and applied for 304B medication status which led to the incorporation of Prevention of HIV management. Then, she expanded the clinic’s role to include primary care for non-HIV patients as part of the organizational application to become a Federally Qualified Health Clinic. She also added telehealth for Prevention of HIV patients at a satellite clinic in Florence, Alabama. Amy quickly made a significant difference in the lives of patients in North Alabama, thus exemplifying the nurse practitioner role. 

The Outstanding NP Regional Award for the River Region is being presented to Dr. Crystal Hopkins. Dr. Hopkins is dual certified as a Family and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. She is the Domiciliary Provider in the Mental Health Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program at the Central Alabama Veterans Healthcare System in Tuskegee. Dr. Hopkins practices autonomously and to the full scope of her certification and licensure. Dr. Hopkins maintains responsibility and accountability for the 43-bed unit and provides expert healthcare within the residential setting. She has displayed a great level of leadership and experience in the role. Not only does she work tirelessly and diligently to provide comprehensive healthcare to the veterans enrolled in the Mental Health Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program, she also serves as the chairperson for the Advanced Practice Council at the Central Alabama Veterans Healthcare System. 

The Outstanding NP Regional Award for West Alabama is being presented to Sara Michelle Eaton. Michelle is a family nurse practitioner in the Home Based Primary Care Program and the Associate Director of Nursing and Patient Care Services at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center. She is the epitome of the VA “ICARE” values – integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect, and excellence. Michelle also serves as Chair of the Advanced Practice Nurse Council at the medical center and took on the lead for the APN Full Practice Authority Task force. In this role, she ensured the bylaws for the medical center were revised to reflect APNs are functioning as independent practitioners. She also educated staff on the implementation plan. Additionally, she has worked closely with the Alabama Board of Nursing to ensure that changes are being made to reflect the new role for all VA APNs licensed in Alabama are properly recognized by the Board as licensed independent practitioners. She is a strong advocate for nursing and has done an outstanding job leading this statewide implementation process. Michelle has proven herself as an exceptional leader and nurse practitioner with the ability to embrace and drive organizational change. 


The Outstanding NP Educator Regional Award for the Bay Area is being presented to Dr. Alethea Hill. Dr. Hill is dual certified as an adult primary and adult acute care nurse practitioner. She has taught in the adult acute care nurse practitioner program at the University of South Alabama for many years and has helped shape other faculty member’s teaching philosophy and style. Dr. Hill is an exceptional leader and mentor who has been a vital part of many MSN and DNP students’ educational preparation, and her love for teaching is evident. Students are very fortunate to have such an exceptional educator in their journey of becoming a nurse practitioner.

The Outstanding NP Educator Regional Award for Central Alabama is being presented to Dr. Carla Turner. Dr. Turner is an acute care nurse practitioner. She practices at UAB’s Heart Failure Clinic and coordinates the adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AGACNP) concentration at UAB School of Nursing. Dr. Turner created and implemented simulation in the AGACNP curriculum. As a member of the Central Alabama Nurse Practitioner Association’s (CANPA) Education Committee, she submitted an application to the Alabama Board of Nursing for the association to become a continuing educator provider. Granting of the approval lead to the association’s ability to apply for Medical Education Grants in support of CANPA’s annual conference. Dr. Turner is well respected by both her peers and students for her professional demeanor, and she serves as an excellent role model. 

The Outstanding NP Educator Regional Award for North Alabama is being presented to Dr. Haley Hoy. Dr. Hoy has been certified as an acute care nurse practitioner for more than twenty years. For the last seven years she has managed dual roles as Associate Dean for Graduate Affairs at UAH College of Nursing and maintaining a busy clinical practice for patients awaiting lung transplants. During Dr. Hoy’s tenure, she has guided faculty through four significant revisions to ensure that the educational curricula for nurse practitioner programs is consistent with national guidelines. Throughout these changes, national certification pass rates have remained above the national average. Dr. Hoy recognizes the need for assuring clinical expertise in nursing faculty. She has been a strong and diligent supporter of the need for nursing faculty to continue nurse practitioner practice while simultaneously teaching students. Students praise Dr. Hoy for her approachability and extensive knowledge base. Her commitment to promoting student success are evident in the ongoing student performance ratings, which are continually above university and college of nursing averages. 

The Outstanding NP Educator Regional Award for West Alabama is being presented to Dr. Gwendolyn Hooper. Dr. Hooper is a family nurse practitioner who teaches in the family nurse practitioner concentration at The University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing. While teaching, she maintains a clinical practice at the Tuscaloosa Urology Clinic. In 2017, she received the Capstone College of Nursing Board of Visitor’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award. Dr. Hooper’s student performance ratings for didactic and clinical courses are consistently well above the college benchmark and university averages.  


Alabama Outstanding Nurse Practitioner of the Year Award:

The Alabama Outstanding Nurse Practitioner of the Year Award is being presented to Mary Elizabeth Comeaux. Beth serves as the lead nurse practitioner of the UAB Liver and Hepatobiliary Service. She is the keystone of the service in coordinating the care of end-stage liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma patients. Beth has spearheaded numerous quality initiatives that have maximized the service line efficiency and productivity. She truly embodies the UAB mantra of “own it, do right, always care, and working together” in virtually ALL aspects of her daily duties. One of Beth’s self-driven initiatives is incorporating research strategies and quality improvement pathways into the patient care algorithms. She applied for and received a $15,000 grant to develop a risk stratification calculator for liver disease patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, helping to stratify those that benefit from aggressive liver directed therapy versus those for whom therapy is considered futile. She has spent the last two years developing the database of over 1,300 patients. Results of her project have resulted in her receiving the 1st place Gold Medal at the prestigious Southeastern Surgical Congress out of 200 abstracts. Beth has an impeccable work ethic and unappalled success as a nurse practitioner. Surgeons describe her as “incredible.” Patients say that “she saved my life,” referring to Beth’s unique ability to work them in at a moment’s notice. Beth is seen as a colleague and mentor among her peers, nursing and medical students, residents, and physicians.

Outstanding Advocate Award:

The Outstanding Advocate Award goes to a person who has demonstrated distinct and steadfast advocacy to our profession in the state of Alabama. The recipient of the Outstanding Advocate Award is Dr. Eileen Meyer. Dr. Meyer is an acute care nurse practitioner and Assistant Director of Advanced Practice Providers at UAB. Last year, she was elected as the Vice President of Policy for NPAA, which was a newly developed position. Dr. Meyer assumed the duties of the position with excellence. She learned the legislative processes quickly and was a key player in advocating for passage of the Signature Authority Bill. She traveled to Montgomery numerous times, met with various legislatures, and attended numerous meetings - many times with only a moment’s notice. Anytime a concern about the bill was made known by an individual or organization, Dr. Meyer quickly investigated and communicated her findings so as to ensure facilitation of the bill throughout the various legislative committees. Upon passage of the bill, she was instrumental in establishing a relationship between NPAA and Alabama Medicaid. Dr. Meyer facilitated approval of critical care specialty protocols through her collaboration with UAB hospital administrators, hospital physicians, the Alabama Board of Nursing, and the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners. Additionally, she collaborated on the language for three ENT advanced practice provider procedures, which was adopted statewide. Dr. Meyer has definitely demonstrated distinct and steadfast advocacy for our profession in the state of Alabama.

Outstanding Senior Advisor for Policy Award:

The Outstanding Senior Advisor for Policy Award is a special award that is being presented to Dr. Joy Deupree. Dr. Deupree is a women’s health nurse practitioner and Director of Community Engagement in the Office of Clinical Affairs and Global Partnerships at the UAB School of Nursing. Dr. Deupree served as a past president of NPAA, and she facilitated passage of the controlled substance bill in 2013. She now serves as NPAA’s Senior Advisor for Policy. Dr. Deupree provided excellent mentorship for officers and members of NPAA who advocated for passage of the signature authority bill this year. She graciously shared her knowledge of (a) assessing and understanding the political landscape, (b) the importance of effective messaging, and (3) how to engage, educate, and unify stakeholders. Dr. Deupree has most certainly demonstrated an unwavering commitment to advancing nurse practitioner practice in Alabama.

Power of One Award:

The Power of One Award is the most prestigious award NPAA gives every year. It goes to a person who, by definition, is a change agent for our profession. This year’s Power of One Award goes to Senator Jim McClendon. Senator McClendon lives on a family farm in Springville with his wife, Ellen, a retired UAB cardiovascular nurse. He completed his undergraduate degree at Birmingham-Southern and his BS and Doctor of Optometry at the University of Houston. He served as a US Navy doctor in Vietnam and as an Assistant Professor at UAB Medical Center School of Optometry. He has also worked in private practice at Leeds & Moody. Senator McClendon was elected to the House of Representatives in 2002. He served three 4-year terms and was chairman of the House Health Committee. Senator McClendon was elected to the Alabama Senate in 2014. He serves as Chairman of the Senate Health Committee. He is also a member of the Rules Committee and Finance and Taxation Education. Senator McClendon is a candidate for a second 4-year term in the Senate. Senator McClendon sponsored the Signature Authority Bill in the Senate and provided strong leadership throughout the legislative session. He always provided excellent guidance to NPAA every step of the way as the bill passed through all the legislative committees and finally became law as Alabama Act No. 2018-474 on March 28, 2018.

Nurse Practitioner Alliance of Alabama

PO Box 695, Decatur, AL 35602

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