Polly Johnson

Polly Johnson
NCNA Hall of Fame Recipient


Until her retirement in July 2008, Polly Johnson devoted the past 20 years of her nursing career to positioning regulation as a vital and proactive partner in facilitating the delivery of safe, effective patient care at the state, national and international levels. She served as the Executive Director of the North Carolina Board of Nursing for 11 years and took the lead in moving health care regulation from a culture of blame to one of quality improvement and from an opinion-based to an evidence-based public service.

Under her leadership, North Carolina implemented the first early intervention program to address the competencies of individual licensees within employment settings as an effort to both retain nurses as well as enhance the delivery of safe patient care. This program now serves as a model for addressing deficits in practitioner competence by both nursing and medical regulatory boards in the United States as well as Canada and Australia.

Her commitment to achieving excellence in nursing regulation is also evidenced through her more than 15 years of leadership work with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Ms. Johnson continues to influence healthcare policy statewide as the founding President and CEO of the Foundation for Nursing Excellence, through her appointments to the boards of the NC Institute of Medicine Board, NC Center for Hospital Quality and Patient Safety, and numerous multidisciplinary taskforces. Nationally, she has contributed to quality improvement in healthcare through her appointments to national patient safety-focused organizations and committees including the IOM Health Professions Education Committee, and is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

Compiled by: 
Phoebe Pollitt