Distinguished Career Achievement Award

The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association Distinguished Career Achievement Award recognizes someone who has made a major contribution that advances the expert care of the seriously ill. This award honors an individual who has made a major contribution in one or more of the areas of research and development, career path development, and education in palliative nursing.


  • The recipient’s contribution may be in education, advocacy, leadership, clinical practice, and/or research. When given to a recipient whose primary contribution is in one domain, this award also recognizes that the recipient’s contributions may extend beyond that domain (for example, a researcher who is also an outstanding educator, or a clinician who has been an extraordinary advocate).
  • HPNA member (preferred).
  • Nurse (preferred).
  • The recipient's contributions to the field should have national impact. 
  • Selected by the HPNA Board of Directors.

Award Nomination Form

Distinguished Career Achievement Award Recipients

2020 -Debra Weigand, PhD, RN, CHPN, CCRN, FAHA, FPCN, FAAN

Dr. Weigand is awarded this honor posthumously. She was an associate professor with the Department of Organizational Systems and Adult Health at he University of Maryland School of Nursing, where she taught palliative care, end-of-life, and bioethics courses. Her program of research focused on improving care provided to families of patients with acute and chronic life-limiting illness. She was a pioneer and a visionary researcher regarding family decision-making and the dying process in the ICU setting, having led or participated in nearly 20 projects. She served as faculty member for ELNEC and a faculty scholar of the Program in Palliative Care Education and Practice at the Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care. 

Dr. Weigand contributed greatly to organizations related to family nursing, hospice and palliative care, and heart disease, including her term as president of the HPNA Board of Directors in 2018. She also served on the editorial advisory board of the Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing and was recognized as an HPNA Fellow in Palliative Care Nursing in 2014. In addition to her work at HPNA, The American Academy of Nursing recognized her accomplishments by naming her a Fellow in 2003.

2019 - Marie Nolan, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN 

Dr. Nolan is a professor and executive vice dean at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Bioethics Institute. She has a twenty year program of research that has been funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research on the history of patient and family decision-making regarding treatments and care at the end of life and how to evaluate interventions to support them. She teaches a course on palliative and end-of-life care that is offered to all nursing students at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.

Dr. Nolan has published papers in nursing and interdisciplinary journals that included a theoretical framework on end-of-life care and end-of-life decision making, instruments on decision making self-efficacy and family decision control, and data-based papers on care and decision making at the end of life.  

2018 - Patrick Coyne, MSN, ACHPN, ACNS-BC, FAAN, FPCN 

Mr. Coyne is currently a clinical nurse specialist, assistant professor, and Director for Palliative Care at the Medical University of South Carolina.  He serves as a member of the institution’s medical and nursing faculty, where he developed and oversees an interdisciplinary team of health care professionals in providing exceptional palliative care. He also serves as faculty for the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium, ELNEC.

Mr. Coyne is a co-primary investigator for several grants focused on educating rural and community APRNs and health providers on primary palliative care. He also has conducted several research studies. He has authored more than 100 articles related to pain and symptom management and issues specific to end-stage disease. Mr. Coyne has edited several textbooks, including the popular Conversations in Palliative Care. He was awarded the Oncology Nursing Society’s Excellence in Pain Management honor and was named one of 30 Visionaries in the field of Hospice and Palliative Medicine by AAHPM in 2013.

Mr. Coyne has served on the board of directors for both the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association and the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center. He also was co-chair of the Annual Assembly Planning Committee. Mr. Coyne has worked diligently during his career to improve pain management and palliative care both nationally and internationally. 

2017 - Kathie A. Kobler, MS, APN, PCNS-BC, CHPPN, FPCN

Ms. Kobler is currently the advance practice nurse leader of the perinatal and pediatric palliative care programs at Advocate Children’s Hospital, Park Ridge Illinois Campus. She has been caring for medically fragile and dying infants and children since 1985. Ms. Kobler speaks and writes professionally on perinatal/pediatric palliative care and bereavement issues, and is interested in investigating and identifying components of ritual most beneficial to bereaved parents. Her recent qualitative research study was to understand bereaved parents’ experience of a hospice memorial service, and to learn how ritual may address the personal suffering experienced by nurses caring for dying children.

Ms. Kobler works on a national level to promote the growth of perinatal and pediatric palliative care. She is co-author of the 2013 book, Meaningful Moments: Ritual and Reflection When a Child Dies.  She is also a national faculty member for RTS Bereavement Services, teaching perinatal and neonatal bereavement education, and has served as the president of the HPCC Board of Directors and as a co-chair of the National Pediatric Hospice and Palliative Care Collaborative. She hopes to continue contributing to the field through deepening her knowledge of nursing science, to engage in research and education, with a goal of improving care for children with serious illness and their families. 

2016 - Rose Virani, MHA, RN, OCN, FPCN

Rose Virani is a senior research specialist in the Nursing Research and Education division at City of Hope in Duarte, CA. She has worked in various clinical and administrative areas in oncology nursing for 40 years. Ms. Virani has served as project director on several national nursing education projects on end of life. She has been the project director of the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) since the program’s inception in 2000. She is responsible for all ELNEC curricula, including Core, International, Pediatric Palliative Care, Critical Care, Geriatric, and APRN. She was a project director for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Cancer Institute (NCI)–funded “Integrating Palliative Oncology Care into Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Education and Clinical Practice,” the Project on Death in America–funded “HOPE: Home Care Outreach for Palliative Care Education,” the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation–supported “Strengthening Nursing Education in End of Life Care,” and the Archstone Foundation–funded “Improving the Quality of Spiritual Care as a Dimension of Palliative Care.”

Ms. Virani was inducted as a fellow in HPNA in 2009 and is a Florence Wald Fellow. She has been a reviewer for the Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant Core Curriculum since 2002. She received the California “NurseWeek” Nursing Excellence Award for teaching in 2003, was the recipient in 2006 of both the Excellence in Supportive Care and the Mary Nowotny Excellence in Cancer Nursing Education awards from the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) in 2006, and later received the ONS Pearl Moore Making a Difference Award. 

2015 - Marcia Grant, DNSc, RN, FAAN

Marcia Grant is a distinguished professor of nursing research and education at City of Hope Medical Center. Dr. Grant served as the director of Nursing Research at the City of Hope until 2013. She has dedicated her career and research to enhancing symptom management and quality of life for patients and has had continuous funding from National Institute of Health (NIH) for over 25 years. Her projects have included pain management in elderly cancer patients; pain management at home; and pain education for nurse educators, and hospital and ambulatory care nurses.

Dr. Grant has focused her research on symptom management for colorectal cancer and hematopoietic cell transplant patients. She has over 200 publications in peer‐reviewed journals, including the American Journal of Nursing, Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, Oncology Nursing Forum, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Quality of Life Research, Seminars in Oncology Nursing, Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, and Supportive Care in Cancer.

Dr. Grant has received several national awards, including an elected fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Distinguished Researcher Award, ONS Excellence in Oncology Nursing Education Award, ONS Distinguished Award for Lifetime Achievement, and induction in the City of Hope Scientific Research Portrait Gallery Award. 

2014 - Judith A. Paice, PhD, RN, FAAN

For the significant research she has conducted and the impact her work has had on the quality of life for individuals with chronic pain, her strong support of the research mission of HPNA, and her ongoing advocacy of the ELNEC curriculum, the 2014 recipient of the HPNA Distinguished Career Achievement Award is Judith A. Paice, PhD, RN, FAAN. Dr. Paice’s original consultancy on the ELNEC project fundamentally shaped the development of that curriculum and she continues to serve as an ELNEC faculty. She was one of the first scholars to discover that chronic opioid use could lead to hypogonadism, leading to better awareness of this adverse effect among care providers. Dr. Paice’s research into pain at end of life, including her work showing that topical morphine is not well-absorbed by intact skin, has changed palliative and end of life care for the better.

Dr. Paice is the Director of the Cancer Pain Program in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and a Research Professor of Medicine, at Northwestern University; Feinberg School of Medicine. She is also a full member of Northwestern University Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Paice has served as President of the American Pain Society and Secretary of the International Association for the Study of Pain. She travels internationally to educate health care professionals regarding cancer pain relief and palliative care. Dr. Paice serves as Associate Editor of the Journal of Pain, serves on the editorial board of the Clinical Journal of Pain and the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, and is the author of more than 150 scientific manuscripts. She also continues her work as a faculty member in the ELNEC program. 

2013 - Patricia Berry, PhD, RN, ACHPN, FAAN, FPCN

Dr. Berry is Associate Professor of Education and Practice at the University of Utah and serves as Associate Director of the Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence. Her scholarly works have focused on pain and symptom management, palliative and end of life care, especially the institutionalized elderly. She has published numerous articles in peer reviewed journals and co-authored the book entitled: End of Life care: Clinical Practice Guidelines for Advance Practice Nurses. This book was selected as an American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year in 2003.

Dr. Berry also coordinated the project that produced the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations pain assessment and management standards. As a member of the National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses (NBCHPN®), Dr. Berry was involved in the development of the hospice and palliative advanced practice nursing certification examination and renewal process. She served as member and as Chair of NBCHPN®‘s Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Exam Development Committee. Currently there are over 760 nurses with this credential Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (ACHPN®). Dr. Berry was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 2009 and as a Fellow in Palliative Care Nursing by the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association in 2012. 

2012 - Judy Lentz, RN, MSN, NHA

As CEO for HPNA, the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation (HPNF) and the National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses (NBCHPN®) for over 13 years, Judy Lentz facilitated the growth of all three organizations, which simultaneously has increased their recognition in this specialty field and in nursing. Past awards received include the Distinguished Service Award from Sewickley Valley Hospital, Sewickley, Pennsylvania; the Pathfinder in Palliative Care Award Winner from the American Cancer Society in October, 2011 and the President’s Citation from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine on March 9, 2012.

A diploma graduate of Presbyterian-University Hospital in Pittsburgh who completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Pennsylvania State University, Ms. Lentz then obtained her Master’s Degree in Nursing as an oncology clinical nurse specialist from the University of Pittsburgh. Responsibility of initiating a subacute unit led her to become a licensed nursing home administrator. Over her nearly 50 year career in nursing and leadership, Ms. Lentz has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, presented locally and nationally and has been a prolific advocate for nursing and the palliative care specialty. 

2011 - Patricia Murphy, PhD, APN, FAAN

Dr. Patricia Murphy heads the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–University Hospital’s (UMDNJ) interdisciplinary End-of-Life Consultation Service. Murphy started the service in 1999. Prior to coming to UMDNJ, she worked at Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark as a Clinical Specialist in Bereavement and Ethics and also served for many years as the chair of the Ethics Committee. Dr. Murphy’s End-of-Life Consultation Service is unlike many hospital palliative care services in that it embraces a broad range of services from middle-of- the-night acute bereavement support to complex ethics consultations regarding treatment decisions for patients who may have no burdensome symptoms. Other members of the End-of-Life Consultation Service include a minister; two master's prepared death and dying counselors, an ethicist, a surgeon and an oncologist participate on an as-needed basis. Murphy sees patients and their families every day concerning pain, grief and ethical questions. Dr. Murphy is currently the chair of the New Jersey Board of Nursing Practice Committee and member of the New Jersey Board of Nursing Education Committee. She has published extensively on bereavement and ethical issues, with a particular focus on end-of-life care. 

2010 - June Lunney, PhD, RN

Dr. Lunney retired as the Associate Dean for Research at the West Virginia University School of Nursing in 2008. She received a Bachelor’s degree in nursing from Villanova University and a Master’s degree and PhD from the University of Maryland at Baltimore. From 1991 until 1999, Dr. Lunney served as an extramural program director at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), during which time she helped develop NIH support for research on end-of-life issues. She subsequently worked at the Center for End-Of-Life Care at the RAND Corporation, where she was a major contributor to a study on the costs and use of care at the end-of-life.

Dr. Lunney was also the lead author on the 2003 Institute of Medicine’s report titled, “Describing Death in America”. In 2004, Dr. Lunney chaired the Planning Committee for the NIH State of the Science Conference “Improving End-Of-Life Care” and served as chair of the 2009 AAHPM/HPNA Conference Scientific Planning Team. Her current research, “Describing Trajectories of Dying”, focuses on functional decline at the end-of-life. In January of 2010, Dr. Lunney became HPNA’s Director of Research. 

2009 - Barbara Daly, PhD, RN, FAAN

Dr. Daly is a Gertrude Perkins Oliva Professor in Oncology Nursing at Case Western Reserve University and holds the position of Clinical Ethics Director with University Hospitals of Cleveland. Her work and research, for which she has gained international recognition, has focused on numerous end-of-life issues, including long-term ventilation, care giving in chronic illness, health care outcomes and costs, and disease management of the chronically ill. She has contributed to numerous books and publications. Dr. Daly’s current projects include a federally funded study from National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) examining “Multiple Morbidities in Vulnerable Populations: Nurse Scientist Training”. She is also serving as co-investigator for a research project titled “Center for Excellence to Build the Science of Self-Management: A Systems Approach” and principal investigator for the “Improving the Quality of Advanced Cancer Care with Disease Management” research initiative.

Dr. Daly is committed to the development and advancement of palliative and end of life care. To that end, she has served as Chair of the Task Force on Code of Ethics of the American Nurses Association and Vice-Chair of the Advisory Board of the Volunteer Guardianship Program/Adult Guardianship Program. She has won several awards, including the Grenvik Family Ethics Award from the Society of Critical Care Medicine, the Sigma Theta Tau Daniel Pesuit “Spirit of Renewal” Award, and the Pathfinder Distinguished Researcher from NINR/NIH. Dr. Daly is also a frequent guest speaker for talks on end-of-life care, particularly as it applies to ethics and end of life decision making. 

2008 - Elizabeth (Betty) Davies, RN, PhD, FAAN

Dr. Elizabeth (Betty) Davies is the current Professor and Chair of the Department of Family Health Care Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing. Dr. Davies has focused her research on the care of families with life-threatening illnesses and bereavement in families, especially in siblings following death from cancer. She has written numerous publications including “Fading Away: The experience of transition in families with terminal illness” and “Shadows in the Sun: Experiences of sibling bereavement in childhood”. Currently her work funded by NINR is examining Chinese and Latino families in pediatric palliative care. She is also studying fatigue in children with cancer.

Dr. Davies has committed to developing pediatric palliative care. With this goal in mind, Dr. Davies has been involved in numerous projects pertaining to pediatric palliative care including serving on the advisory board of the Pediatric ELNEC. She is also vice-president of the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement. She has received numerous honors and awards in the US and Canada and is widely published. 

2007 - Elizabeth Ford Pitorak, MSN, CNS

Elizabeth Pitorak is the Director of the Hospice Institute at the Hospice of the Western Reserve, Cleveland, Ohio, Adjunct Field Instructor at the Mandel School of Applied Sciences, Clinical Instructor Biomedical Ethics at Case Western Reserve University, Clinical Associate in The Breen School of Nursing at Ursuline College and Facilitator of the Safe Conduct Team at the Ireland Cancer Center. Ms. Pitorak is a Founder of the Hospice of Western Reserve and served in multiple positions on a voluntary basis for many years prior to her employment with them. With over 25 years as an educator, Ms. Pitorak has initiated specialized programs in hospice, published manuscripts and chapters, presented and taught nationally and internationally, served as project director for research initiatives and has been acknowledged with many awards. Her service also extends to numerous professional organizations, both local and national, many for whom, like HPNA, where she served as a Past President of the Board of Directors. She is the current President of the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation. 

2005 - Nessa Coyle, PhD, NP, APRN, BC-PCM, FAAN

The second recipient of the HPNA Distinguished Career Award is Nessa Coyle PhD, NP, APRN, BC-PCM, FAAN. Born in London, England Nessa moved to New York City in the late 1960’s and began her work at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Her interest in neurological nursing exposed her to cancer patients in pain and the effects of poorly controlled pain on the patient, family and staff. After taking a years’ leave of absence to complete a Master of Science/nurse practitioner program at Columbia University, she returned to Sloan-Kettering, and with Dr Kathleen Foley, chief of the Pain and Palliative Care Service, developed a Supportive Care Program. Nessa has been Director of the Program since it’s inception in 1981.

Nessa is well published in pain and palliative care, co-edited the Textbook of Palliative Nursing with Dr Betty Ferrell, is a member of several editorial boards, and is an active board member of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York Hospice Program. She has lectured extensively on pain and palliative care as well as ethical issues for nurses, and was a consultant for the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, Committee on Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. A recipient of many awards, Nessa was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 1997, and completed her PhD in nursing at New York University in 2002.

2004 - Betty Ferrell, PhD, FAAN

Dr. Betty Ferrell has been in oncology nursing for 26 years and has focused her clinical expertise and research in pain management, quality of life, and end of life care. Dr. Ferrell is a Research Scientist at the City of Hope National Medical Center. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and she has over 250 publications in peer-reviewed journals and texts. Dr. Ferrell received the Oncology Nursing Society Distinguished Nurse Researcher Award in 1996. She is Principal Investigator of a study funded by the American Cancer Society on “Palliative Surgery” and she is also Principal Investigator of the End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and several other funded projects related to end of life care in cancer centers and QOL issues in cancer survivors. She is a hospice volunteer and also the chairperson of the Southern California Cancer Pain Initiative. She has authored four books – Cancer Pain Management (1995), a text on Suffering (1995), Pain in the Elderly (1996) and the Textbook of Palliative Nursing Care (2001).