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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                   

February 8, 2018

FOR MORE Information:
Deborah Pelaez, Marketing and Communications Manager
(800) 749-AAKP / dpelaez@aakp.org


America’s Largest Independent Kidney Patient Organization Recognizes Top Professionals

Tampa, FL – The American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP), America’s largest independent and patient-lead kidney advocacy organization, has announced the recipients of its 2018 Medal of Excellence.  The award is the Association’s highest honor for kidney healthcare professionals and is designed to elevate national and international figures who have been in the forefront of advancements in kidney care and patient empowerment.

“It is an honor to recognize professionals who are committed to improving and extending the lives of all kidney patients through research, technology and quality-driven treatments that protect patient dignity and fully align with patient aspirations, including the desire to work and to pursue a career. AAKP operates on a national strategy designed to increase patient education, engagement and advocacy through alliances with experts and credible organizations and institutions. Our 2018 Medal of Excellence recipients exceed the highest levels of professional excellence from the patient viewpoint and are superb ambassadors for their respective programs,” stated Paul T. Conway, AAKP President and a former Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Labor.

A selection committee comprised of highly renowned leaders in the renal community – including professionals, patients and previous award recipients – selected this year’s honorees based on numerous nominations. The Medal of Excellence Award Dinner will take place on Friday, March 16, 2018 at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Hotel in Orlando, FL, in conjunction with the Renal Physicians Association’s (RPA) Annual Meeting; this event will recognize all Medal of Excellence Award winners. Tickets to attend the dinner may be purchased for $125/each on the AAKP website or by calling 813-400-2395. Fellow colleagues, members of the renal community and RPA meeting attendees are encouraged to join in honoring the distinguished recipients.

The 2018 honorees are:

Physician Category

Rebecca Schmidt, DO, FACP, FASN, is Section Chief and Professor of Medicine with Tenure for West Virginia University School of Medicine, Department of Medicine – Section of Nephrology in Morgantown, West Virginia. She leads the Mission on Outreach and Telemedicine for the Department of Medicine at WVU School of Medicine and serves on the Board of Directors for ESRD Network 5 and Medical Advisory Board for the AAKP. Dr. Schmidt is the Past President and first woman President of the Renal Physicians Association (RPA) and is a nationally known advocate for policies and legislation designed to fully empower kidney patients, create greater access to transplantation and to keep kidney patients employed or better able to rejoin the workforce. Dr. Schmidt found her passion in rural outreach and has strived to decentralize care of kidney disease, including through greater use of telemedicine, to meet the needs of the many West Virginians who live great distances from medical care.

Nursing Category

Nancy Uhland, NP, is a nurse practitioner in the Renal Division of the George Washington Medical Faculty Associates in Washington, D.C.  and works closely with kidney patients and their caregivers, including patients receiving kidney transplants through the George Washington Transplant Institute and community members engaged through the George Washington University Ron and Joy Paul Kidney Center.  Ms. Uhland has deep professional and research interests in racial disparities in kidney donation, transplantation outcomes among African American patients and improved access to healthcare for African American patients utilizing new approaches to health communications. Ms. Uhland is a Board Member of the District of Columbia Board of Nursing and her experience includes positions with the George Washington University Hospital Emergency Department and Interventional Radiology as well as service as the Live Kidney Donor Coordinator at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia.

Social Work Category

Wanda Driggers, LMSW, is a Fresenius Kidney Care Travel Consultant for the Myrtle Beach/Hilton Head, SC region. Ms. Driggers began her dialysis career in 2001 overseeing social work responsibilities for three clinics. She developed an admissions process and resource tool for new patients which are still used today. Ms. Driggers is well-known for her patient education videos and presentations, providing humor with important education to help engage new and current dialysis patients. Her development of a highly successful patient travel program transitioned her into the position she holds today.

Dietitian Category

Stacey Adams, MPH, RD, CDN, is a Senior Renal Dietitian at The Rogosin Institute in New York, New York. She has served the patient population for more than 17 years by assisting with the development of the Institute’s Nutritional Manual and the creation of a Nutrition Supplement Program for high-risk patients. Ms. Adams works closely with in-center hemodialysis and home hemodialysis patients, as well as their families to ensure everyone understands the importance of the renal diet and how best to support their family member.

The Medal of Excellence recipients will be recognized throughout the 2018 year.

AAKP is proud to recognize such deserving individuals; whose career achievements set an example of the best in patient centered care. The 2018 honorees represent every sector of the renal community and demonstrate the profound impact each member of the healthcare team has on patient outcomes, quality of life and helping those affected by chronic kidney disease achieve their aspirations.

For additional information on this year’s award recipients, recognition events, or to sponsor the 2018 Medal of Excellence program, please visit https://aakp.org/medal-of-excellence/ or contact Diana Clynes, Interim Executive Director, at dclynes@aakp.org.


Founded in 1969, AAKP is the largest and oldest independent kidney patient organization in America. Governed by a patient-majority Board of Directors, AAKP conducts national education programs designed to better inform kidney patients, care-givers and policy-makers about the true impacts of kidney disease, prevention efforts and treatment methods. AAKP executes a national advocacy strategy in conjunction with allied kidney organizations designed to insert the patient voice into proposed policies, research efforts and care deliberations before the Executive Branch and the U.S. Congress.

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