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NurseWeek Names 2008 California Excellence Award Winners

Nurses gathered Sept. 26 at the Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa to honor top-notch California nurses at the NurseWeek Excellence Awards. Of 30 finalists, one winner was chosen in each of six categories.

The winners will now move on to compete in NurseWeek’s national “Nurse of the Year” program, which takes place toward the end of the year.

Another accomplished nurse, Pilar De La Cruz-Reyes, RN, MSN, was also honored with the Diane F. Cooper Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.


Pilar De La Cruz-Reyes, RN, MSN

Pilar De La Cruz-Reyes, RN, MSN
Executive Director, San Joaquin Valley Nursing Education Consortium

Pilar De La Cruz-Reyes, RN, MSN, had yearned to be a nurse since age 7, but high school teachers told her she was “poor, Hispanic, and needed to be a secretary.” Undeterred, De La Cruz-Reyes, the daughter of a migrant farm worker family, acquired a nursing diploma in 1968 as the only minority student in a class of 46, and went on to become a driving force for expanding the number of RNs and promoting diversity.

After starting as a staff nurse at Community Medical Centers, she advanced to executive ranks, gaining an MSN and creating the Paradigm Program, which has put 350 hospital employees through nursing school. She was also a chief nurse executive at Fresno Heart & Surgical Hospital before becoming the executive director of the San Joaquin Valley’s Nursing Education Consortium, which is led by the Hospital Council of Northern & Central California. She now coordinates a state grant to train RNs as nursing school faculty and teaches part time in an LVN-to-RN program.

De La Cruz-Reyes says she has lived her girlhood dream and is writing a book she hopes will inspire others: But, I Want To Be A Nurse.


Beverly A. Jones, RN, MPS, NEA-BC
Senior Vice President Patient Care Services, John Muir Health

Under Jones’ leadership, one nursing council did research to initiate hourly rounding to reduce patient falls. Another RN presented a staffing pattern to reduce overtime and overlap. Jones has also set the bar for clinical coordinators to have BSN degrees and managers and directors to have MSNs. “There’s nothing better than empowering the nursing organization at every level and watching the creativity and passion grow,” she says.


Linda Gorman, RN, MN, CNS-BC, CHPN, OCN
Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Specialist, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Gorman’s passion for supporting dying patients began 30 years ago when she was a diploma nurse doing psychosocial work and mental health oncology. She recently trained a cadre of “end-of-life champions” — nursing unit leaders at Cedars who advise RNs on palliative care. The field is growing due to an aging population, life-extending technologies, and a trend toward patient flexibility and choice, Gorman says.


Kathy McCarty, RN, MSN
Clinical Officer, Chidamoyo Christian Hospital (Karoi, Zimbabwe), sponsored by Sebastopol Christian Church

McCarty has faced rebuilding a burned-down hospital, restarting an immunization program, and battling the AIDS epidemic. But the message she sent to the gala was upbeat: “My life for the past 28 years has been to make my community here at Chidamoyo better for the people through quality nursing care that will make a difference in their lives and in future generations.”


Donna Wyman, RN, BSN
Patient Care Supervisor Emergency Department, Children’s Hospital Central California

Wyman helped launch a collaborative action plan to streamline patient flow. “We were able to redefine acuity levels for pediatrics so children could be seen by the right people and interventions made in the least amount of time,” she says. The number of patients who left without treatment dropped from a daily average of 12 in 2005 to 3.2 in 2007.


Betty L. Dobbs, RN, MHA, MSN
Nursing Workforce Development Specialist, Little Company of Mary

Dobbs initiated a Work-to-School program for hospital employees that has produced 21 RNs and nine LVNs. Participants receive tuition and a full-time salary and benefits for half-time work. Dobbs also runs a program to train high school students as volunteer patient care assistants, holds a workshop for former RNs seeking a return to practice, and trained 25 staff RNs to mentor nursing students.


Suzanne Taylor, RN, MSN, EMT
Manager, Patient Care Services Staff Development, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles

Taylor likes to be where the action is, orienting new RNs and developing and teaching courses. She was the initial pediatric curriculum coordinator for the hospital’s residency program and started a mentor-to-nurse ratio of 2:5 for group circle sessions. She is also a training officer on call for search and rescue. Recently she flew back from Malawi, where she dispensed medicine and advice to local residents.

Photos of the winners and finalists can be viewed at

By | 2020-04-15T15:24:03-04:00 October 6th, 2008|Categories: Regional, West|0 Comments

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