Donna Owen ’73 had big dreams while growing up in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. She wanted to practice nursing at a big hospital in a big city.
Owen dedicated her career to caring for others, and now the School of Nursing is recognizing her with its Distinguished Alumni Award. She will receive the honor during the 2020 School of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Conference on Feb. 6 in the Cone University Center.
The School of Nursing gives the Distinguished Alumni Award to a UNC Charlotte nursing graduate for outstanding service to the school; exceptional achievement; or state, national or international leadership in the areas of practice/clinical excellence, education, administration, research and/or professional writing.
“This award is even more meaningful, to be remembered and honored three years since my retirement,” Owen said. “I would never imagine that possible. Our future is with our nursing students, and I know UNC Charlotte produces excellent nurses.”
Owen’s nursing career spanned more than 40 years. She started as a staff nurse at Charlotte Memorial Hospital and Medical Center, working her way to head nurse. At Carolinas Medical Center (now Atrium Health), Owen was director of administrative nursing services, associate director of nursing services, and when she retired in February 2017, director of policy and clinical practice.
In 2016, Atrium Health presented Owen its Pinnacle Award, the organization’s highest honor.
Janet Handy, assistant vice president of Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center, said Owen dedicated herself to the nursing practice.
“She actively supported nursing practice by ensuring nursing policies and procedures are evidence-based and up to date,” Handy said in her nomination letter. “Not only did her work support policy and practice, but it also nurtured and grew commitment and leadership in newer nurses who are developing their pathway into nursing greatness.”
Owen has been active in the North Carolina Nurses Association and partnered with nursing schools in the region to help develop future nurses.
The School of Nursing is inviting fellow nurses to its Distinguished Alumni Conference to help celebrate Owen’s accomplishments in the field. This year’s conference topic is “Nurses: Serving to Improve Health Care.”
Speakers include Pat Campbell ’84 ’88, vice president of women’s and children’s services at Novant Health; Janis Joyce ’09, a registered nurse with Atrium Health; and Connie Mele ’84 ’95, a therapist with CCM Counseling and Consulting.
Conference attendance is $75, which includes admission, lunch and light refreshments. Register here.