Sharon Pappas receives the Georgia Hospital Association’s statewide Hospital Hero Award

The Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) presented Emory Healthcare’s Chief Nurse Executive, Sharon Pappas, PhD, RN, FAAN, with the prestigious Hospital Hero Award for her outstanding contributions to healthcare, particularly in the field of nursing. Pappas was one of five people to receive the national award during a recent celebration this year.

“Emory and the entire healthcare industry are fortunate to have Sharon Pappas with her expertise and passion for the wellbeing of nurses and patients,” said Earl Rogers, President and CEO of GHA. “Her efforts and support have benefited Emory’s recruitment and retention efforts, and she has left an indelible mark. She is a most deserving recipient of this award.”

Pappas joined Emory Healthcare in 2016. As Chief Nurse Executive she was lLeads Emory Healthcare’s nursing staff, which consists of more than 8,000 nurses at the organization’s 11 hospitals and more than 250 clinic sites. Born in Georgia, she has been a nurse for more than 40 years. And this goes hand in hand with a deep passion for care.

Pappas’ hands-on leadership has been vital to the Emory care team during the COVID-19 pandemic — from ensuring nurses stay safe and looking after themselves so they can care for patients, to ensuring safety their resilience team members, to rebuilding a depleted team after months on the front lines.

“Sharon provides exceptional leadership to our care team and also serves as a respected leader throughout the organization,” said Dane Peterson, interim CEO and President and COO of Emory Healthcare. “She puts her passion for patient care at the heart of all our decisions. Sharon has embraced and built on our foundation of nursing excellence and is taking our nursing team to the next level. She is well deserving of this Hospital Hero award from the Georgia Hospital Association.”

Since early 2020, Pappas has placed Emory Healthcare’s mantra of “improving lives and bringing hope” at the heart of her daily work. While nurses cared for patients and their families, she worked tirelessly to implement resilience and well-being programs to keep caregivers healthy. Working with the Chief Nursing Officers at each Emory Hospital, she supported nursing operations to ensure nursing staff were streamlined throughout the system, sometimes innovating as needed.

Pappas’ expertise in strategic workforce planning and leadership has been and will continue to be important in the coming months and years. In the face of nurse exhaustion during the pandemic, she is committed to the physical and emotional recovery of nursing staff at Emory. Long-term, sustainable strategies with a focus and commitment to the growth and well-being of team members are key, says Pappas, while continuing to create a great work environment for clinicians.

Pappas leads and promotes the Magnet culture, which reflects the professionalism of care, teamwork and superiority in patient care at Emory Healthcare. The American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program is the most prestigious recognition a healthcare facility can receive for excellence in nursing and quality patient outcomes. Four Emory Hospitals and Emory Clinic outpatient practices have achieved magnetic identification, and Pappas’ ultimate goal is magnetic identification for the entire system. At the national level, she serves as Deputy Chair of the Commission of Magnet.

In 2021 and 2022, Pappas also served as Emory Healthcare’s spokesperson at several joint media briefings/press conferences with other metropolitan healthcare systems during the pandemic, which made headlines nationwide. She highlighted issues affecting healthcare delivery, including nurse shortages, physician burnout, and physician resilience in extremely difficult times.

Additionally, she has worked with the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) and the American Hospital Association (AHA) to support the development of advocacy groups to reach legislators regarding the financial and human resource implications of the nursing profession.

Before the pandemic, Pappas was one of the authors of the 2019 consensus report from the National Academy of Medicine. Take action against physician burnout. The knowledge gained during this experience has greatly benefited the clinicians at Emory Healthcare. Additionally, Pappas was part of a team that measured the burnout levels of critical care professionals (physicians, nurses, advanced practice providers, and others) at Emory Healthcare. Information gleaned from this interprofessional burnout study is used by leaders to improve the work environment.

Pappas has authored several publications that have contributed to the international body of knowledge on how improving healthcare cultures through inclusion in decision-making, respect and leadership contributes to patient care. One of these publications quantum guidance, is a textbook commonly used in Doctor of Nursing Practice programs in the United States

“I am very grateful for this recognition from the Georgia Hospital Association and share this recognition with my fellow sisters who have shown strength and resilience during the pandemic,” says Pappas. “I am grateful to all of our nurses at Emory Healthcare and thank them all for the leadership and excellent care they provide to our patients.”

Congratulations to Sharon Pappas on being named a GHA Hospital Hero 2022! She is the perfect example of a heroine in the field of nursing.