2016 NPWH/Hologic Inspiration in Women’s Health Award Winners

Since 2006, the Inspiration in Women’s Health Award has been bestowed upon winners selected for their dedication, achievements, and contributions to women’s health care and advanced practice nursing. On September 29, at the 19th Annual NPWH Premier Women’s Healthcare Conference, the 2016 Inspiration in Women’s Health Awards were presented to four awardees who have made significant contributions in the areas of education, research, clinical practice, and policy. An expert committee of nurse practitioners selected a winner in each of these four categories. Read more about this year’s awardees below.

Sharon D. Baker, BSN, MN, CWHNP, CMP – Education
Sharon Baker has spent her entire career focused on women’s health. After graduating from Southern Illinois University, she moved to Atlanta to work at Grady Hospital’s labor and delivery unit. While in Atlanta, she earned her masters degree from Emory University in maternal child health and joined the faculty of Medical College of Virginia (MCV) teaching the maternity rotation for undergraduate students. She taught nurse practitioner students at MCV before returning to Georgia to teach maternity nursing at Emory University.

In 1990, she was the first nurse practitioner ever hired in Rome, Georgia. Around this time, she founded a non-profit organization, The Women’s Information Network, Inc. (WIN). The first WIN program focused on a comprehensive presentation of health issues at midlife and menopause. In 1999, the Governor of Georgia appointed Sharon to the Georgia Commission on Women (GCW). She has served as Chair of the Health Committee and been reappointed several times. She works on several committees and writes blog posts on health topics that are the focus of GCW.

Sharon has lectured for many community and state organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and developed and implemented many visionary programs. Sharon’s current project is developing a workshop on end of life issues that will be offered September 27, 2016.

Naomi Jay, RN, NP, PhD – Research
Dr. Naomi Jay developed the role of the nurse practitioner in the field of high-resolution anoscopy, has been a pioneer in anal dysplasia research, and is a leader in the education of providers in high-resolution anoscopy. Her work is innovative and unique. She wrote the seminal paper on transferring colposcopy skills to high-resolution anoscopy.

She currently serves on the boards of the American Society of Cervical Colposcopy and Pathology, Quan Yin Healing Arts, and is the vice president of the International Anal Neoplasia Society. She is the co-director of the ASCCP High Resolution Ansocopy Course, IANS Advanced HRA Course, and the American Society of Colorectal Surgeons HRA Course. The meticulous practice standards developed by Dr. Jay based on her knowledge of cervical colposcopy, are by and large responsible for what are considered the diagnostic standards of HRA today.

Jennifer Kurkowski, MSN, WHNP-BC – Clinical
Jennifer Kurkowski has had a positive impact on so many young females. She specializes in bleeding disorders in young women as well as the health care needs of female patients with lupus. Once a month, she runs a combined clinic with a hematologist where she sees patients with heavy menstrual bleeding and other diagnosed bleeding disorders, such as von Willebrand’s Disease. This clinic is critical in providing the best care possible for these patients as their conditions can be difficult to manage.

Jennifer provides education to patients on topics such as periods and sexual health. She attends a camp once a year for young girls with bleeding disorders, and she is involved in a lupus clinic where she sees girls with a new diagnosis of lupus to discuss contraceptive options and to provide counseling about teratogenic medications and future pregnancy risks. Jennifer has also precepted nurse practitioner students nearly every semester for the past 5 years.

Denise G. Link, PhD, WHNP-BC, CNE, FAAN, FAANP – Policy
Dr. Denise Link has made significant contributions to health care and policy as evidenced by the extensive political and legislative activities she has participated in throughout her career. Dr. Link has been at the forefront of Arizona’s policy issues since 2001. Prior to her relocation to Arizona, she was a leader in the 10 year effort to gain title recognition and full prescriptive authority for NPs and CNS in New Jersey by encouraging her nursing colleagues to speak out to legislators and to the public about the quality, safety, and effectiveness of nursing care. In 2013, as Governmental Affairs Officer, she was the spokesperson for nursing in a coalition led by then Governor Jan Brewer and the Arizona Nurses Association (AzNA) that intensely lobbied for Medicaid expansion in Arizona. A co-chair in the Arizona Action Coalition, she led the formation of the Arizona Coalition for APRN Consensus Model Legislation.

Dr. Link educates politicians and policy makers about the APRN role as a team leader and speaker at Lobby Day and Public Policy Day. She is the chair for the AzNA Public Policy Committee that reviews bills and makes recommendations for AzNA’s position. She is a member of the AzNA Political Action Committee (AzNA PAC), attending targeted PAC candidate fundraisers and conducting candidate interviews during the endorsement process.

Dr. Link is an infectious and tremendous leader in the political arena and inspires everyone around her to become more active in women’s health policy issues.


Do you know an NP who goes above and beyond in the classroom, in conducting research, in clinical practice, or in their advocacy efforts? If you do, consider nominating them for the 2017 Inspiration in Women’s Health Awards. Nomination information coming in early 2017. Please check www.npwh.org for details. 

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