By Denise Williams | News & Views
Humbled. That’s the word that defines the moment Trina Limberg, BS, RRT, FAARC, MAACVPR learned she would be the 2021 recipient of AACVPR’s most prestigious award. “I think she burst out crying,” recalls Ana Mola, PhD, RN, ANP-C, MAACVPR. As AACVPR’s 2020 president, Mola chaired the Awards Committee in 2021 and had the privilege of notifying this year’s recipient of the coveted L. Kent Smith Award for Excellence. “She was just so in awe that she was even nominated, let alone the fact that she was going to be the awardee. She was overwhelmed with emotions and gratitude and a tremendous amount of humility,” Mola remembers.
Humbled. That’s the kind of energy Limberg gave out when she got the call, despite having all the experience and accolades to back the committee’s decision. The Award for Excellence recognizes an individual who has made impactful contributions to the fields of cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation. Winners typically have been involved in AACVPR at the state and/or national level, have published in JCRP and/or other journals, have presented or moderated sessions at the Annual Meeting and have chaired or co-chaired an AACVPR committee. There’s no doubt Limberg was in good company with the five other standout candidates who were in the running, but Mola says she was notable for touching so many domains.
“Trina really crossed clinical care, in terms of education and clinical practice,” Mola explains. “She also straddled so many different organizations. She was a lead to so many organizations on the pulmonary side as well as being part of AACVPR, which is both cardiac and pulmonary.” Limberg’s volunteerism and work in driving these professional associations and societies to evidence-based practice was key, Mola adds, as were her research activities.
“To be honored for a life journey is tremendous,” says Mola. To receive that honor and be humbled by it, is all the more so.
Kudos All Around
Limberg accepted the L. Kent Smith Award for Excellence as part of the festivities at the 36th Annual Meeting in October, when plaudits were also bestowed on several other award recipients. Among them were Dalane Kitzman, MD and Dina Brooks, PhD, MSc, BSc (PT). Respectively, they took home the Michael L. Pollock Established Investigator Award and the Thomas C. Petty Distinguished Pulmonary Scholar Award—the former recognizing significant research and academic contributions in the field of cardiac rehabilitation, and the latter doing the same for pulmonary rehabilitation.
Unlike the Award for Excellence, whose candidates are selected by the Awards Committee, these two honors are routed—aptly so—through AACVPR’s Research Committee. The panel of research professionals in cardiac or pulmonary rehab, led by Jason Rengo, MS, CCRP, FAACVPR, keep a running list of nominees that is periodically reviewed and updated with new contenders. On any given year, the committee considers 10-15 candidates, plus additional names solicited from previous winners. Those who are not selected generally are returned to the list for the following year.
Once the field is narrowed down to the strongest 2-3 finalists, panel members can begin the deliberations to choose the year’s winners. What it boiled down to for the Established Investigator Award, according to Rengo, was Kitzman’s overall body of work over time in the specialty of cardiac rehabilitation. “He has really long history in his training, particularly in various cardiac populations,” Rengo pointed out, noting that most of the research award recipients have been in the profession for decades. “He’s also been a frequent contributor to position statements on exercise training in a lot of these same populations as well.”
Rengo also lauded Brooks for her “fantastic” track record, which landed her the Distinguished Pulmonary Scholar Award. “She’s been a leader in pulmonary healthcare, particularly pulmonary rehabilitation, for many, many years,” he said. Congratulations to Limberg, Kitzman, Brooks and all of the other AACVPR award recipients for 2021!