Regional One Health’s Megan Williams, MSN, RN, CNL has proven herself to be an invaluable resource for vulnerable Memphians thanks to her role as Project Manager for the ONE Health complex care initiative. Now, she’s being honored nationally for her work.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Commission on Nurse Certification named Williams as an Honorable Mention Recipient for its Clinical Nurse Leader Vanguard Award during February’s Clinical Nurse Leader Summit in Tampa, Florida.

Megan Williams, MSN, RN, CNL was honored with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Vanguard Award for her work as a clinical nurse leader.

The award recognizes Clinical Nurse Leaders who show innovative and outstanding professional performance and advocacy, and promotes the contributions they have made to transforming healthcare. Clinical Nurse Leaders are master’s educated nurses who oversee integration of care for distinct groups of patients in complex situations.

“Certified Clinical Nurse Leaders are having a significant impact on enhancing healthcare quality by raising patient satisfaction levels, improving care outcomes, reducing hospital readmissions and realizing sizable cost-savings,” said American Association of Colleges of Nursing Board Chair Ann Cary, PhD, MPH, RN, FNAP, FAAN.

Williams, who also gave the summit’s keynote address with Lauran Hardin from the Camden Coalition, Regional One Health’s partner in ONE Health, said she is humbled by the award and gratified for the opportunity to share the message behind ONE Health on a national scale.

“I feel like your calling is your calling, and you don’t do it for accolades, you do it because that’s your passion. It’s not about me being recognized, it’s about the work being recognized and the opportunity to have a platform to be a voice for the vulnerable and to share their story,” she said.

The story Williams was able to share with her peers is of a successful first year for ONE Health.

Through her work with ONE Health, Williams is helping address both the medical and social needs of healthcare “super-utilizers.”

ONE Health helps healthcare super-utilizers – patients who make frequent, costly emergency and inpatient hospital visits – by addressing both their medical and social needs.

Regional One Health uses its own resources and commitment to compassionate care along with community partnerships to provide medical care, housing, transportation, job placement and more. In its first eight months, ONE Health resulted in 69 fewer inpatient admissions and 156 fewer emergency visits, and had a total benefit to Regional One Health’s bottom line of $1.95 million.

Williams’ commitment to that type of intense intervention is why she was honored. Regional One Health Chief Integration Officer and Senior Vice President Susan R. Cooper MSN, RN, FAAN said Williams is the embodiment of the principles recognized by the Vanguard Award.

“We are so fortunate to have Megan on our ONE Health team,” Cooper said. “This prestigious award recognizes her contributions not only to Regional One Health, but the nursing profession through advancing the Clinical Nurse Leader role. Megan has participated in the development of innovative programs that serve our most vulnerable and complex patients. She leads by example, is an amazing team player, finds creative solutions to difficult problems and shares her knowledge freely. Megan has made a significant impact in the lives of the patients we serve.”

The Clinical Nurse Leader is an emerging role in nursing.

It was developed in the past 10 years by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the governing body of the profession, after half a century without adding a discipline. Clinical Nurse Leaders focus on care coordination, outcome measurement, transitions of care, quality improvement and more. Williams was part of the first graduating Clinical Nurse Leader classes when she studied at University of Toledo.

Williams uses her Clinical Nurse Leader skills to help the ONE Health team address complex care challenges.

All of that is fitting for Williams, who thrives on being an agent of change. She said she enjoys the challenges of creating new programs and guiding organizations through times of transition.

For ONE Health, she used her Clinical Nurse Leader skills to define the issue of super-utilizers in Memphis, then look within that group for needs to address – homelessness, drug abuse, mental illness, unemployment, etc.

From there, she helped create programs for those populations using Regional One Health resources and partnerships with government and social service entities.

Now, as ONE Health looks to expand services to patients and build on its role as a national leader in research and policy reform, Williams is invigorated by her experience at the summit.

“Sometimes, in the moment you wonder if something is worth it – but then you see how overcoming a challenge helps you years later, and you connect the dots,” she said. “It’s inspiring to know that we’re helping people, and that they have trusted me with their story and the ability to share it and get more support for ONE Health.”

To support the team at ONE Health as they care for Memphis’ most vulnerable residents, visit