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The Significance of Nursing Fellows

The fellows of the American Academy of Nursing are leaders in advancing nursing science, education, policy, and practice. A doctoral degree could position you as a leader, too.

There are over 2,400 nursing leaders around the world who are recognized as fellows of the American Academy of Nursing.1 It’s an honor reserved for professionals who are at the top of their careers. But what does it really mean to be a nursing fellow?

According to the American Academy of Nursing, its fellows “are nursing’s most accomplished leaders in education, management, practice, and research. They have been recognized for their extraordinary contributions to nursing and healthcare.”2


Fellows include nurse practitioners, higher education leaders, faculty in nursing degree programs, healthcare administration executives, elected officials, political leaders, nursing consultants and researchers, and other many others who have demonstrated leadership in nursing and healthcare.

Being distinguished as an American Academy of Nursing fellow is more than a nod to a person’s achievements or a special distinction on a curriculum vitae or résumé. Once awarded fellowship status, members are expected to use their experience and expertise to collectively support the academy’s mission of advancing the nursing profession, improving population health, and transforming the healthcare system.

“While it is individual contributions that awards the fellow designation, the true power of the fellowship is our shared nursing knowledge and influence that bolsters our impact locally and globally,” said the American Academy of Nursing.3

Fellows must continue to demonstrate nursing leadership by sharing their time and efforts to support American Academy of Nursing activities. Nursing fellows collaborate with other health leaders and work toward positive changes in social attitudes and behaviors, health policy and practice, scientific research, nursing education, and other factors that affect the healthcare system.

According to the American Academy of Nursing, the program requires that fellows show responsibility and leadership by:1

  • Enhancing the quality of health and nursing
  • Promoting healthy aging and human development across the life continuum
  • Reducing health disparities and inequalities
  • Shaping healthy behaviors and environments
  • Integrating mental and physical health
  • Strengthening the nursing and health delivery system, nationally and internationally

How to Become an American Academy of Nursing Fellow

Each year, aspiring American Academy of Nursing fellows apply to join the prestigious nursing leadership program. The rigorous and competitive process includes the following steps:4

  1. A thorough application with details about the applicant’s nursing leadership skills, area of expertise, achievements, and contributions to nursing and healthcare
  2. Nominations by two sponsors who are both American Academy of Nursing Fellows
  3. An intensive review by the 18-member American Academy of Nursing fellows selection committee

The committee selects a cohort of nursing leaders for the fellowship program each year. Today, the fellows of the American Academy of Nursing represent all 50 U.S. states and 38 countries.3

Interested in Nursing Leadership? Earn a PhD in Nursing Online

If you want to become a nursing leader, furthering your education by earning a doctoral degree online is a great way to build the leadership skills and expertise needed to grow your influence.

Some of the best nursing schools offer online doctoral programs that are taught by faculty who are nursing fellows themselves. For example, at Walden University, 17 faculty members in Walden’s College of Nursing are American Academy of Nursing fellows.

Learning online in a degree program taught by recognized nursing leaders and experts can open excellent opportunities for mentorship and career development. Having instructors who are nursing fellows could also expand your professional network with connections to top contributors in the healthcare field.

By earning a PhD from a reputable online program for nursing leaders, you can expand your impact and make an even greater difference in the healthcare system.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a PhD in Nursing degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,