By Erica Techo
University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing alumnus Darrell Owens, MSN, MSHSA, DNP, is being inducted into the Washington State Nurses Association Hall of Fame.
Owens is a 2010 DNP graduate from the UAB School of Nursing and is Section Head for Palliative Care at the University of Washington Medical Center, Northwest Campus. He has more than 30 years of experience as a nurse, with 28 years centered in palliative care, and has improved patient-centered care by developing and building the inpatient palliative care service and the outpatient primary palliative care program within the UW Medicine system.
“I am so humbled to have been selected for this award. To me nursing has always been a calling, not a job, and to be recognized for my contributions is more than I could have ever imagined 30 years ago,” Owens said.
Beyond establishing inpatient and outpatient palliative care programs at UW Medicine, Owens has also broadened the knowledge base of nurses and other specialists through countless presentations, and as the University of Washington planned its response to COVID-19, Owens said he stepped up to emphasize the importance of palliative care.
“Palliative care has to step up,” Owens said. “They have to say, ‘We have an essential and vital role to play. We have the skills and ability to have conversations in a very clear manner and in a very respectful way.’ You should also let advance practice nurses step up. What this pandemic has shown is they are able, as a profession, to take the lead in care and do that well.”
In 2011, Owens was selected as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioner’s Nurse Practitioner of the Year for the State of Washington, and in 2012 was the first nurse practitioner to receive the Cambia Health Foundation’s Sojourn Award for Excellence in Clinical Leadership in Palliative Care. In 2015, Owens received the Joanne Barnett Award for Compassionate Care from the Nursing Chapter of the UAB National Alumni Society. He was also named the 2019 recipient of the University of Washington Distinguished Staff Award.
Since 1996, the Washington State Nurses Association Hall of Fame has recognized Washington-based nurses who have made significant achievements and have changed practice, research, educational opportunities and governing policies of nursing.