COLUMBUS, Miss. – Dr. Johnnie Sue Wijewardane, department chair of the graduate nursing program at Mississippi University for Women, has been recognized for her contributions to nurse practitioners and patients in the state of Mississippi.
Recently, Wijewardane of Starkville was awarded the American Association of Nurse Practitioners 2014 State Award for Excellence. Founded in 1991, the State Award for Excellence recognizes a nurse practitioner in each state who demonstrates excellence in clinical practice.
Her work on developing and implementing The W’s first doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) program started in late 2010, and she has taught in the program since January 2013. The DNP is the university’s first doctoral program. Wijewardane has been a graduate nursing faculty member since 2008.
“I am thrilled about the honor. It is a very prestigious award, and I had no idea I would be nominated. It has been a good year for me, particularly with my involvement in the DNP program, not to mention seeing our first graduates,” she said. “But more than being about me, it makes me happy to see nurses/nurse practitioners supporting other nurses/nurse practitioners.
“It is important that nurses work to honor and recognize each other in this type of way when possible.”
Wijewardane serves as an adviser to research and clinical student groups. She also stays current on advanced practice nursing guidelines through practice in the college health and nursing home settings. Wijewardane also serves a legal consultant several times each year where services rendered include plaintiff and defense case review and expert witnessing.
In addition to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, she maintains memberships in American Nurses Association, Mississippi Nurses Association, Southern Nursing Research Society, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and the National Organization for Nurse Practitioner Faculties.
She is actively involved in the Mississippi Nurses Association, where she participates in efforts to influence policy on a state and local level as it relates to nursing, nursing education and nurse practitioner practice.
Wijewardane earned her PhD, master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
She was nominated by longstanding colleague Linda Watkins, who works as a nurse practitioner in the emergency department of the VA Hospital in Jackson.
Watkins said, “She is a true leader in the state of Mississippi for nurse practitioners. She works really hard and meets all of the qualifications to receive this award. She has developed programs concerning the education of nurse practitioners and she is very active and promotes legislation movement in the profession as well. I am very proud of her.”
All winners of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners’ awards will be recognized at the national conference in Nashville, Tenn., in June.