The star-studded event in Irving, Texas, that celebrated NurseWeeks South Central regional Nursing Excellence Award winners and finalists featured professionals that save lives, comfort souls, and help build better healthcare systems for their patients. The ceremony honored some of the best nurses the profession has to offer nurses that, through testimony and evidence offered by their colleagues, demonstrated skill and leadership over the past year that made others take notice.
About 150 people attended the NurseWeek Excellence Awards gala Oct. 9, which was an opportunity for the South Central nursing community to honor the 30 finalists for their extraordinary achievements in the categories of Advancing and Leading the Profession, Clinical Care, Community Service, Management, Mentoring, and Teaching. No matter what the role or setting, these nurses found ways to raise the bar for their colleagues and the quality of life of their patients.
Winners and finalists lauded their teams and colleagues, gave credit where credit was due, and took to the stage to share what the evening and their careers as nurses have meant to them. In the end, six winners were announced. Their victories, as well as those of the finalists, were testimonials to a years worth of grassroots efforts, unwavering leadership, research, and elbow grease in which patients in the region benefited the most. Congratulations to all.
Advancing and Leading the ProfessionNancy Buccola, RN
Nancy Buccola, RN, MSN, APRN, PMHCNS
Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing,
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans
Buccola, whose career spans nearly 34 years, is committed to improving the mental health of Louisiana citizens and to nursing education. She reached national and international prominence as a nursing researcher in two federally funded studies focused on the genetic basis of schizophrenia. Buccola is the only nurse on the genetics of schizophrenia grant team, and one of the first nurses working on this type of genomic project in the U.S. She has balanced an academic teaching workload with a research agenda and functioned in several roles as a researcher, grant coordinator, consultant, and principal investigator.
Community ServiceDiaraye Bebe Sylla, RN
Diaraye Bebe Sylla, RN, BSN
Oncology Clinical Nurse,
UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
In addition to her duties as a clinical nurse, Sylla has worked to improve health conditions globally through prevention and education, specifically in her hometown of Guinea, West Africa. She has served as president of the American Friends of Guinea and travels with a medical team each summer to perform needs assessments and develop action plans. Through AFG, Sylla raises funds, then provides free supplies to health centers that treat underserved populations in Guinea. She has helped save thousands of lives, mostly children affected with cholera.
Clinical CareCarol Gentry, RN
Carol Gentry, RNC, BSN
Labor and Delivery Staff Nurse,
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas
Gentry has been a progressive force of nursing for the past 26 years, working as a staff nurse, preceptor, charge nurse, manager, and counselor. She has taken the helm of the perinatal loss program and developed a perinatal bereavement room. Gentry is a support group facilitator for families that come back to grieve the loss of their child and was instrumental in starting a Christmas gathering for families. Yearly, she plans a memorial service for the families experiencing loss. She also teaches perinatal loss quarterly to nurses.
ManagementJoanne Sedei, RN
Joanne Sedei, RN, MSN
Nurse Manager of Perioperative Services,
The Medical Center of Plano (Texas)
Sedei used research obtained while pursuing her MSN to study the decrease of complications in patients who reach the PACU with normal body temperatures. Through education and training, the percentage of patients who were hypothermic upon arrival in the PACU decreased from 33 to two in three months. Her research poster abstract has since been accepted for presentation at a Magnet Conference and the Summer Institute on Evidence-Based Practice. Sedei also started the Surgical Care Improvement Project program. Through her involvement, the hospital reached its compliance goal with the appropriate use of antibiotics.
MentoringCharlotte Womack, RN
Charlotte Womack, RN, BSN
Manager, Women & Children Services,
Medical Center of McKinney (Texas)
Womack has practiced in neonatal care since 1980. She provides opportunities for staff to teach infant safety and CPR to new parents or neonatal resuscitation to staff members. She has recently organized and implemented a study group in order for her staff to receive certification in their specialty areas. The annual NICU reunions, which she started three years ago, are a huge hit with graduates. She developed a program to cease Kernicterus in the unit and initiated, developed, and implemented an outpatient bili clinic with a lactation component.
TeachingYvonne Brown, RN
Yvonne D. Brown, RN, MA
Director of Nursing Education,
Baylor Medical Center at Garland (Texas)
A nurse educator for more than 30 years, Brown created the Education Council at the facility, pulling together the nursing supervisors from each unit for hospital-wide nursing education. Under her direction, nurse educators create teaching tools to effectively get the message out to each nurse. Brown tells her staff not to teach all that they know, but teach what they want and need to learn. She stresses the importance of knowing the adult learning theory and using it. She helps create learning activities to stimulate the learning process.
Outstanding Achievement Award WinnerMartha Steinbauer, RN
Martha Steinbauer, RN
Vice President and CNO, Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas
Steinbauer is described by colleagues as a visionary leader who facilitates the way for new and innovative programs. She has a history of promoting quality patient care, cutting-edge treatments, and excellent service and is known for promoting nursing research at the bedside and mentoring new nurse managers. Steinbauer has been a guiding force during an eight-year project to build a new $200 million dollar acute care tower. During the process, she ensured nurses ideas were incorporated in order to create a healthy healing environment for patients and staff.