Nov 17, 2014

North Carolina Nurse Selected as Recipient of National Leadership Award

Contact: Susan Lamontagne
(631) 899-3825 or

A North Carolina nurse who has made extraordinary efforts to improve the health and lives of agricultural workers and health care providers will be recognized as one of the 10 recipients of the new Breakthrough Leaders in Nursing award created by the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a joint initiative of AARP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

AnnMarie Walton, MPH, RN, OCN, CHES, PhD candidate, an oncology nurse at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital, noticed a pattern of young Hispanic men being diagnosed with leukemia and dying in their twenties. She launched a study to understand how they could better protect themselves from pesticides and other chemicals in the fields and to identify the barriers that prevented them from doing so.

“While I am not an epidemiologist, I think it is important that health care providers consider the environmental or systemic factors that affect our patients’ health,” said Walton, who also has worked to protect health care workers from exposure to hazardous drugs, such as chemotherapies. Her work has led to policy changes in North Carolina that mandate compliance with National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommendations for the safe handling of hazardous drugs. Walton is an American Cancer Society Doctoral Scholar, a Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar, and a recipient of the National Institutes of Health T32 Fellowship in Cancer, Aging and End of Life. She works with the North Carolina Action Coalition.

The Campaign for Action created the 2014 Breakthrough Leaders in Nursing award to celebrate nurse leadership and the importance of efforts by nurses to improve health and health care. The award recipients have worked to help victims of sexual assault, medically fragile children, neurologically impaired individuals, and low-income women in rural areas, among others. Their work is helping to improve the quality of medical care in Vermont, prevent bedsores and reduce Medicaid costs in Texas, and recruit minority nursing students in Wisconsin, to name a few.

“AnnMarie has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of agricultural workers and health care workers,” said Connie Mullinix, coordinating council member, North Carolina Action Coalition. “This award recognizes the incredible progress AnnMarie’s leadership has made for the people of North Carolina.”

Learn about the other recipients.