Drum rolls of appreciation and recognition greeted nurses as they came on stage, while delighted guests simulated the sounds of drums by pounding on their table tops when finalists, honored nurses, and winners were announced June 9 at the Nursing Spectrum 2009 Nursing Excellence Awards in Greenbelt, Md.
Steve Hauber, CEO and publisher of Nursing Spectrum, wanted applause and plenty of whooping and hollering. The festive audience did not disappoint.
Candlelit dining tables and uniformed waiters serving a sumptuous feast to the beautifully dressed crowd set the scene as fellow nurses, family, and friends gathered to celebrate outstanding nurses from the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia region.
In addition to honorees from local facilities, 32 finalists were celebrated during this time-honored National Nurses Week event.
Compelling stories of nurses who have made true differences, whether in the community, the lives of their patients, or among their peers, were shared as the finalists gathered on stage. At the end of the evening, the 2009 winners in the categories of Advancing and Leading the Profession, Clinical Care, Community Service, Management, Mentoring, and Teaching were announced.
For the winners, who go on to a national pool from which six national Excellence Awards winners will be selected, this honor is more significant than a night at a glamorous gala and an award. They are leaving footprints of excellence for other nurses to follow as they clear a path to define the future of healthcare.
Advancing and Leading the Profession
Mary Lou Watson, RN, MS
Vice President of Nursing
St. Marys Hospital
Initially brought in as a consultant to the CEO when the COO and CNE positions were vacant, Watson focused on emergency care, Joint Commission compliance, newly hired director orientation, and patient satisfaction. After only three months on the job, Watson was appointed to the VP and CNE position.
She was instrumental in St. Marys receiving the Nursing Excellence Health Services Cost Review Commission grant, which allowed for 10 RN-to-BSN/MSN tuition support scholarships to be awarded along with 15 other nurse leadership training opportunities. Watson also has been appointed by the governor to the Maryland State Board of Nursing. She was impressed by the success of her fellow RNs.
The excellence of the finalists tonight demonstrated the depth of experience and the achievements of these nurses, who represent all nurses, she said. It was breathtaking to hear stories about what the finalists are doing and contributing.Cindy Rew, RN
Cindy Rew, RN, BSN
Senior Clinical Nurse 2
University of Maryland Medical Center
A frontline leader in the SICU, Rew frequently is called upon by her peers to defuse conflicts. She is respected for an ability to help both parties see the others point of view.
Rew was instrumental in maintaining unity among staff during a difficult time for the department, when an outbreak of Acinetobacter baumannii forced the department to be split into three separate functioning units for nearly three months. Rews positive attitude and optimism helped keep the staff united and working toward a common goal. She recognized her fellow nurses whose hard work and dedication kept the team strong.
I am proud to be part of this group of exceptional RNs and proud to represent the excellent nurses I work with at UMMC, Rew said. I feel that I am receiving this award for those outstanding nurses I work with every day.Joanne Evans, RN
Joanne Evans, RN, MEd, PMHCNS-BC
Assistant Director, Institute of Credentialing Innovation
American Nurses Credentialing Center
Silver Spring, Md.
Each year, Evans and her daughter, who also is a nurse, use personal vacation time to visit impoverished areas of the world on medical missions. They recently spent five days in the Dominican Republic, where they were scheduled to treat about 1,000 patients medical and dental needs.
Evans recently became involved with the International Council of Nurses Girl Child Education Initiative, a fund that provides education for orphaned young girls in Africa who had a parent who was a nurse.
Evans was thankful to be among the nurses honored at the event.
Its an honor to be one of so many talented nurses in the room, she said.Debra Bendahan, RN
Debra Bendahan, RN, BSN, NE-BC
Director of PACU and Invasive Services
Inova Mount Vernon Hospital
Known for her insight and leadership abilities, Bendahan generated a business plan for endoscopy growth that resulted in a $70,000 funding award. She also has overseen three consecutive quarters of patient satisfaction scores in the 90th percentile.
Bendahan has re-emphasized the importance of research and instituted cross-training initiatives between nurses in PACU, endoscopy, interventional radiology, and cardiac rehabilitation services. She participates in a program that offers back-to-school physicals for uninsured children and is an active member of the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary.
Bendahan was appreciative for those who came out to show their support.
This was such a wonderful experience tonight, said Bendahan. Its nice to get nurses together in one room to recognize and celebrate one another.Patricia Mook, RN
Patricia Mook, RN, MSN, NEA-BC
Assistant Vice President/Chief Nurse Executive
Inova Mount Vernon Hospital
Mook is a transformational leader who has motivated and encouraged a record number of staff members to return to school and complete advanced degrees. She has done this by creating an environment that supports creative scheduling and flexibility. Despite a busy schedule, Mook regularly covers the workload of her direct reports so they have an opportunity to take part in a semester-long clinical.
She is a preceptor for George Mason University graduate students, and she allows those students to participate in all levels of confidential meetings. Mook attributed her success to the nurses who motivate and encourage her through their dedicated work.
I feel as if the people I work with were recognized through me, she said. I work with nurses who give 150% every day. They are the ones who inspire me, and they are the ones who deserve recognition.Anne Belcher, RN
Anne Belcher, RN, PhD, AOCN, CNE, ANEF, FAAN
Associate Professor and Director, Office for Teaching Excellence
Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing
Belcher is a 40-year veteran of nursing education who has touched the lives of hundreds of students at the baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral levels. Hundreds more nurses have benefited from her teachings in continuing education courses on topics such as patient education, oncology nursing issues, spirituality, humor, and professional development.
Hearing the accomplishments of the other finalists made Belcher proud of the quality of care provided by fellow area nurses.
Our region is exceptional in that it produces so many nurses who continually demonstrate excellence in teaching, mentoring, and leadership, she said.
Pam Meredith, RN, MSN, FNP, is Director, Nursing Communications & Initiatives, for Nursing Spectrum.