It was only fitting to honor the 2009 Nursing Spectrum Nursing Excellence Awards of New England finalists and winners at a gala the evening of May 12, which is the birthday of nursings icon Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. New England nurses gathered at the Burlington (Mass.) Marriott to pay tribute to 30 nurse finalists six of whom would learn they had been chosen as winners in their categories.
Once again, the awards gala spotlighted the immense variety of nurses roles and ways in which they practice, said Judith S. Mitiguy, RN, MS, executive vice president of nursing communications and initiatives for Gannett Healthcare Group, publisher of Nursing Spectrum. Almost 200 years after her birth, Florence would have been so proud to see that her teachings and spirit live on in the practice of nurses today.
From a field of more than 100 nominations, these New England nurses were chosen through a blinded judging process as winners of the 2009 Nursing Excellence Awards:
Caring for the Whole PatientGrace Good, APRN
The winner in the Clinical Care category is Grace Good, APRN, BC, nurse practitioner at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Good advocates for the most disenfranchised patients those caught in the system, the seemingly invisible but ever-present patients who cycle in and out of the healthcare system, writes her nominator. To Good, helping those patients is a source of great pride.
Im most proud of the advances nursing has made over the years. Im especially proud of the support and respect the nurse practitioner role has received from all disciplines, especially at Mass. General Hospital, Good says. For me personally, the support Ive received has allowed me to shape my current role on a multidisciplinary medical team. … This team enables me to not only care for these patients medically but also to advocate for the patients in a way that addresses both medical and personal needs.
Good looks beyond the hospital stay when caring for patients. By the power of collaboration with team members caring for the patients, she says she has the ability to put together safe discharge plans that will help maintain patients at optimum states of physical and mental health.
Caring When Few Others WillCheryl D. Kane, RN
The winner in the Community Service category is Cheryl D. Kane, RN, BSN, MEd, street team nurse and director of development at Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program.
Kane says theres something about human connectedness and, who knows, for whatever reason, but I feel like Ive always been drawn to people who were on the fringe of society.
Kane delivers nursing care on Bostons city streets, alleyways, soup kitchens, and other non-traditional settings. Her patients most often are chronically homeless, very vulnerable adults with long-term mental illness and substance abuse problems, she says.
Their stories are very compelling. I think the patients we care for … theyre the kind of people nobody pays attention to, Kane says. Its such a privilege when a patient trusts me enough to tell me their name and their story because its only when you have that foundation of trust that we can begin to take care of peoples medical needs.
As director of development, Kane is charged with bridging the gap between available federal and state funding and the actual cost of delivering services to 11,000 homeless patients. She helped raise about $42 million to give the homeless a place they can go if they are discharged from the hospital and in need of care.
There is such a spirit of hope here that nobody gives up on anybody. If you fall down, we pick you up. If you fall down again, we pick you up again. Because you never know when someone has the courage or strength to change themselves, she says.
Opportunity to Make a DifferenceAdele Keeley, RN
The winner in the Management category is Adele Keeley, RN, BSN, MA, nursing director at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Keeley says she is lucky to work at a Magnet hospital that fosters great communication, connectedness with other disciplines, futuristic thinking, and a positive outlook toward our work.
Those are the elements needed to fuel her managerial focus on patient- and family-centered care, according to Keeley. The other factor that enables Keeley to do her work as a manager is having a chief nursing officer who has created a culture that values the contributions of nurses and allows them to dream.
As nursing director of an 18-bed medical intensive care unit, Keeley not only promotes the concept of excellent patient and family care, but also participates in studies to improve the patient and family experience. One quality study resulted in the merging of palliative care and critical care cultures in the MICU.
We are exposed to countless opportunities to make a difference, both at the hospital and beyond our walls, she says. I think being a great nurse manager means having a vision that staff can connect to that improves patient and family experiences in the ICU.
Giving BackGayle Gravlin, RN
The winner in the Mentoring category is Gayle Gravlin, RN, EdD, NEA-BC, associate chief nurse of education, research, and professional development at Lahey Clinic Medical Center in Burlington, Mass.
Gravlin is directly responsible for central clinical educators, a doctorate-prepared nurse research scientist, and two doctorate-prepared nurse research consultants. She also shares responsibility for 25 unit-based clinical educators; more than 1,200 RNs depend on her leadership and guidance every day for educational and professional development activities, according to the nomination.
Still, Gravlin says, being a mentor is a privilege because she has great passion for nursing and giving back to a profession that has given her so much during her 33-year professional career.
Ive been honored to have the opportunity to care for and teach and supervise people. … And I feel so privileged to have had the generosity of nurse mentors who shaped my career, she says.
Gravlin sees her biggest professional accomplishments at the organizational level as co-leading the Magnet project and developing the hospitals nursing-based research and evidence-based practice program. Outside the organization, she is most proud of her research and work to influence the future of nursing. In 2009, she authored a published study on missed care and delegation and presented an award-winning poster at the American Organization of Nurse Executives conference in April. Gravlin, who is co-chairwoman of the Massachusetts Nursing Initiatives Nurse of the Future Competency Committee, helps to develop the competency criteria necessary for the success of tomorrows nurses.
The Power of KnowledgeMartha A. Q. Curley, RN
The winner in Advancing and Leading the Profession is Martha A. Q. Curley, RN, PhD, FAAN, nurse scientist of cardiovascular and critical care services at Children’s Hospital Boston.
Curley is an accomplished researcher, yet never distances herself from the bedside. Her nominee writes, Her favorite question to ask a nursing researcher is: When was the last time you touched a patient?
Curley, the Killebrew-Censits Endowed Term associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia, says her most significant contribution to the profession is knowledge development in the practice of nursing with an emphasis on practice.
Nursings essence, she says, is how nurses touch patients and their families. Curleys clinical and research work evolves around creating evidence-based knowledge about nurses interactions with patients and their families.
Curley has learned through her work that the core is that nursing is about caring relationships that facilitate healing.
The nominee writes of the evolution of Curleys practice: In the past three decades, [Curleys] career has evolved from pediatric staff nurse to internationally known clinical researcher whose solid contributions have advanced the discipline of pediatric critical care.
Nurturing NursingMary Jane Williams, RN
The winner in the Teaching category is Mary Jane Williams, RN, PhD, department chairwoman at the University of Hartford Department of Nursing in West Hartford, Conn.
A nurse for more than 30 years, Williams works tirelessly as an educator and nursing advocate. Williams believes she effectively reaches students with her ability to create a positive learning environment, one that fosters respect for each individuals uniqueness, encourages reciprocal learning, and recognizes the students strengths.
She says her most significant achievements are the success stories of graduates who have moved on in their careers as leaders in the profession.
I also believe my work for nurses in the policy arena has made a significant contribution to nursing in the state, Williams says.
Williams work in policy and with the Connecticut Nursing Association led to the founding of the Nursing Career Center of Connecticut, of which she is president; legislation that provided a privileged confidential program for all licensed health professionals in the state of Connecticut called Health Assistance interVention Education Network, of which she is vice president; and legislation that supported a variety of initiatives in Connecticut in 2007 to foster recruitment, retention, and mobility in the profession, multiple educational initiatives in a variety of university settings, and electronic relicensure for all licensed health professionals.
An Evening to Remember
The evening was a wonderful celebration of nurses, says Melyni Serpa, general manager of publications for Gannett Healthcare Group. We celebrate nurses for the care they give to others, and the care they have for each other. The very presence of all of the nurses at the event demonstrates their dedication to the nursing profession and commitment to supporting nursing excellence.
Sponsors for this years event include Johnson & Johnson, which through its Campaign for Nursings Future, is the national sponsor for the Teaching category. To honor Johnson & Johnsons efforts, Gannett Healthcare Group will donate $5,000 to the campaigns Faculty Scholarship Fund, which is administered by the Foundation of the National Student Nurses Association. This donation will be made in the name of the national nurse of the year in the Teaching category.
Other sponsors are Lahey Clinic, Spaulding Rehabilitation Networks, Boston Medical Center, Cambridge Health Alliance, Children’s Hospital Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital.