NLN Honors Nurse Educators of the Year

NLN Honors Nurse Educators of the Year

Year of the Nurse Educator Celebration of Awards by Colleagues & Students Set for the NLN Education Summit

Washington, DC — Five nurse educators, nominated by colleagues and students for their impact and inspiration, have been named winners of the National League for Nursing Nurse Educator of the Year Award. Drs. Linda Flynn, Jessica Ochs, Tammy Spencer, Aluem Tark, and Cheryl Taylor will be formally recognized in a special Year of the Nurse Educator presentation at the 2022 NLN Education Summit in Las Vegas, September 28-30.

The awards highlight a year of celebrating the unique contributions of nurse educators and nursing education to public health and dedicated to promoting careers in nursing education. In declaring 2022 the Year of the Nurse Educator, the League featured the essential role of nursing education during the COVID-19 pandemic and of the field’s historic and continuing importance to health care.

“These select faculty rose to the top of the nominees, demonstrating what it means to truly earn this exceptional recognition. They reflect the variety of ways each awardee guided scores of students to achieve their best in delivering culturally sensitive, equitable patient care and, just as often, inspired students to follow in their footsteps to become educators themselves. There can be no higher compliment to a mentor,” said NLN Chair Kathleen Poindexter, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF, interim associate dean of academic affairs at Michigan State University in Lansing.

NLN President and CEO Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN, said, “Today the nursing world is in need of leaders ready to collaborate on initiatives that nurture inclusivity, tolerance, and cultural sensitivity within the nursing workforce. I urge you all to follow the lead and examples of these five role models who have lifted others up, and thereby hoist upon your shoulders the leaders of tomorrow in nursing education.”

Here’s some of what their nominators had to say about these extraordinary nurse educators:

Linda Flynn—Dean and Professor, Rutgers School of Nursing, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey

            “Dr. Flynn leads a school of nursing with a diverse student body; 60% of students are non-White. She has intentionally created and cultivated an academic environment that is not only inclusive and equitable, but one that is actively working against racism and bias in the school's institutional practices, curricula, classrooms, and interactions.”

            “As a result of Dr. Flynn's mentorship and willingness to guide a burgeoning researcher, I've started mentoring my students and incorporating her techniques. After all, someone once cared about my success enough to take the time to invest in me, and I love being able to do that with my students.”

            “Dean Flynn publicly celebrates nursing, nurses, and the contribution of nurses to the betterment of our society. As a dean within an academic health science center, in two short years, she has changed the culture of collaboration across schools and adamantly advocates for nursing inclusion and the outcome has been that nursing has not only become a more integral part of academic health program planning and implementation but nursing has become a leader in interdisciplinary initiatives including COVID prevention, building of clinical partnerships, establishing health science policies, and advancing interprofessional education.”

Jessica Ochs—Associate Professor, Endicott College, Beverly, Massachusetts

            “Professor Ochs inspires passion for the nursing profession through her clinical work, volunteer work, teaching, and service to the nursing profession. Professor Ochs maintains clinical practice as a nursing director of a children's day camp in the summer and as a family nurse practitioner in urgent care. From this work, Professor Ochs is able to bring to life patient stories and outcomes and really engage the students in the conversation about why they matter.”

            “Professor Ochs frequently discusses in class how it is a privilege to be able to care for patients at their most vulnerable. This privilege is evident in every patient story, successful or sad, that brings to life not just diseases and diagnoses, but more globally, the health care system, the environment, and even the legal system.”

Tammy Spencer—Associate Professor/Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs, University of Colorado College of Nursing, Aurora, Colorado

            “Among the hundreds of examples that could be cited illustrating Dr. Spencer's impact, some of the most potent occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, Dr. Spencer led the Colorado nursing community as the most prominent voice in obtaining a governor's executive order to decrease clinical hours needed for undergraduate nursing students to graduate. Because of her tenacity and leadership, over 250 undergraduate students graduated in 2020, providing a vital pipeline of nurses, who were desperately needed in the workforce. In March 2020, Dr. Spencer also led a rapid pivot (in one week!) from in-person to online education for CU's multiple undergraduate nursing program tracks, impacting approximately 500 students.”

            “Students adore Dr. Spencer's class, because she shares evidence-based content specific to their development, as well as poignant stories from her own practice.”

Aluem Tark—Associate Professor of Nursing/Assistant Dean of Nursing Education Assessment and Evaluation, Helene Fuld College of Nursing, New York City

            Professor Tark represents the epitome of what a good nursing professor is and has left an incredibly positive impression on me. She became a role model to me, and to my classmates, and I strive to be more like her, every single day.”

            “Dr. Tark is currently leading a nursing course, "Strategies to Success,” a remediation course designed for students who did not successfully pass the core nursing course(s)… It is a challenging course, as many of enrollees are discouraged, frustrated, and often feeling ashamed to take a remediation course while their peers advance through the curriculum. Dr. Tark was best suited to take the lead, to inspire students and give them a reason to go on, rather than to feel stuck in despair.”

            “Dr. Tark sets a great example to her students as well as other colleagues across disciplines, that one of the best ways to move forward the nursing knowledge is through actively participating in research work and disseminating evidence-based nursing knowledge. Needless to say, she is a well-published nurse scientist and an inspiration to her colleagues and students.” 

Cheryl Taylor—Associate Professor of Nursing, College of Nursing, and Allied Health/Co-Director of STEMMING the Pool of Future Minority Clinicians at the Timbuktu Academy Southern University and A&M College Baton Rouge, Louisiana

            “Most students can only dream of having a professor like Dr. Cheryl Taylor. She goes above and beyond with everything…I remember taking my first test and reaching out to her because I am a horrible test taker. I asked for aid, and she was kind enough to take time out of her days to help develop and identify test taking strategies which allowed me to be successful in my nursing courses. She helped me to be able to continue my education pursuit and dream of being a nurse.”

            “The world we live in now needs more nurses with passion and a willing heart to go the extra mile with no strings attached. I truly believe that this can be taught in the classroom. My dream was written down with a date. My dream was broken down into steps and became a goal. My goal became a plan backed by actions and finally became reality. Dr. Cheryl Taylor played a huge role in this.”

            “I know I came to nursing school with a lot of odds against me and with disabilities, such as reading comprehension and study disabilities. Dr. Taylor motivated me, improved my style of studying and helped me to reach for my goals and dreams in a better way. Now I am able to look at things in simple and easy-to-achieve ways.”

For more information about the Year of the Nurse Educator, visit


About the National League for Nursing

Dedicated to excellence in nursing, the National League for Nursing is the premier organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education. The NLN offers professional development, networking opportunities, testing services, nursing research grants, and public policy initiatives to its nearly 45,000 individual and 1,100 institutional members, comprising nursing education programs across the spectrum of higher education and health care organizations. Learn more at

September 14, 2022


Michael Keaton, Deputy Chief Communications Officer