Audrey Nelson, PhD, RN, FAAN, Director of the HSR&D Research Enhancement Award Program to Maximize Rehabilitation Outcomes (PMRO) in Tampa, Florida, was among 30 finalists selected for this year's Service to America Medals.
Dr. Nelson was selected by the Service to America Awards committee as a finalist for the Career Achievement Medal, and was cited for her "relentless pursuit of a solution to the high rate of nursing injuries that led to a $200 million nationwide, three-year program funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs that is designed to radically change the way nurses handle patients."
A nurse scientist at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, Fla., Nelson has conducted ongoing work to address the widespread issue of musculoskeletal injuries among nurses. After observing how workers at loading docks relied on equipment for lifting—and translating those observations to the work that nurses must do when lifting heavy equipment and patients—Nelson's work has focused on creating an ergonomics-based approach to lifting using mechanical technologies. In addition, Nelson has coordinated with the American Nurses Association and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, resulting in a safe patient handling curriculum at 26 of the nation's nursing schools.
In her role as Director of the HSR&D REAP, Dr. Nelson and her team at the PMRO center are working to advance the science of rehabilitation for veterans with disabilities, including wounded warriors from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). Investigators focus on promoting function, safety, and quality of life for veterans with disabilities, including polytrauma.
The Service to America Awards are supported by the non-partisan Partnership for Public Service, and pay tribute to America's federal workforce, highlighting those who have made significant contributions to our country. Honorees are chosen based on their commitment and innovation, as well as the impact of their work on addressing the needs of the nation. Award nominees must have shown a strong commitment to public service as a federal civil servant, and demonstrated significant accomplishments within his or her particular government field.