Nurses spend their careers helping others, rarely reaping widespread recognition for a job well done. But the spotlight is shining on six nurses named the 2009 Nursing Spectrum and NurseWeek Nursing Excellence Awards National Nurse of the Year winners. They were nominated by peers, managers, students, and sometimes patients.
Each winner has created a legacy of inspiration and accomplishment, says Judith Mitiguy, RN, MS, executive vice president, Nursing Communications and Initiatives, Gannett Healthcare Group. Nursing Spectrum considers it a privilege to honor nurses from across the country through regional and national excellence awards. As in years past, the six national winners represent all that is right and good and true within nursing. They set an example for professionals within and outside healthcare through their leadership, wisdom, expertise, and compassion.
Each national winner was selected from a pool of nine regional winners in each of the six categories of excellence. The nominations were blinded and judged by Nursing Spectrum National Advisory Board members.
Clinical CareGrace Ann Good, RN
Grace Ann Good, APRN, BC, nurse practitioner, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
Being able to collaborate with and earn the trust of all people from physicians, to colleagues, to patients makes Goods work exceptional. This strength is especially evident in her advocacy for the disenfranchised patients those seemingly invisible but ever-present patients who cycle into and out of the healthcare system.
My hope is that this award will serve to bring continued attention to those patients who need us most; those with acute illnesses further compromised by psychological, behavioral, and/or socio-economic challenges. … I am honored and privileged to be a part of that response, Good says.
Community ServiceMary M. Vecchio, RN
Mary M. Vecchio, RN, MSN, APN, OCN, community education and outreach,Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center, Flemington, N.J.
Vecchio knows that the best information is useless if you dont get the attention of the people you want to teach and are not resilient enough to keep going back until you create the change you want. Mother Teresa once said, We can do no great things … only small things with great love, Vecchio says. When Im involved with a group, whether in my professional or personal life, Im seeking out the teachable moment. Making a connection that has a positive impact is an amazing experience. Community service is the opportunity to be that pebble that sends out the ripple of change.
Advancing and Leading the ProfessionKerri Anne Scanlon, RN
Kerri Anne Scanlon, RN, MSN, ANP, chief nursing officer, associate executive director,Long Island Jewish Medical Center, New Hyde Park, N.Y.
Scanlon says she believes that transformational leadership is essential to the nursing profession. Great leaders have the ability to communicate and motivate a group of people towards achieving a common vision and goal. What sets nursing leaders apart in healthcare is the realization that we greatly influence the organizations overall working climate. The working climate in our institution is what the staff and patient ultimately feel, she says. As nursing leaders, we must go beyond traditional approaches and structures to leadership and care. We must motivate and inspire our staff to strive for a professional practice model that truly embodies our core values as a profession and demonstrates our passion for patient-focused care.
ManagementAdele Keeley, RN
Adele Keeley, RN, BSN, MA, nursing director, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.
Keeley says that the most important thing in being a good manager is connecting with staff members, so they can be autonomous and engaged in a vision of excellence. The qualities that I believe all great managers have include a sense of positivity about the work they do that creates a culture of teamwork and community with all members of the team. Patients and families are integral members of this team, says Keeley. You must be a visionary to advance best practice and be a constant guide in the day-to-day work that brings about change. You must maximize the resources around you, identify leaders among your staff, and ask for assistance from others within your institution to help advance your vision.
MentoringLori Hedges, RN
Lori Hedges, MS ANP-BC, AOCNS, ACHPN, advanced practice nurse, Pain Management andPalliative Care, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Chicago
Hedges created a mentoring plan a multi-pronged approach aimed at affecting nursing practice with outcomes focused on patient safety, quality of patient care, and patient and associate satisfaction, according to the colleague who nominated her.
Ive been fortunate in my nursing career to do what I love and love what I do. I feel this contributes to my success as a mentor. I am confident in my strengths and am open about my shortcomings. This allows me to role model professionalism naturally, Hedges says.
I believe the most important qualities of a successful mentor are confidence, patience, a sense of humor, and willingness to allow newbies to find their wings and fly, she says.
TeachingPatricia Heslop, RN
Patricia Heslop, RN, MSN, APN, CCRN, clinical outcome manager and advanced practice nurse,South Jersey Healthcare, Cardiac Care Center, Vineland, N.J.
With almost 40 years tenure at South Jersey Healthcare, Heslop plays a critical and integral role in the continued professional development and long-term learning of SJH nurses. Heslop says there are four important qualities for teaching: clinical knowledge, good communication skills, patient/client advocacy, and professionalism. [Its the] ability to empower new nurses to be proud of this dynamic profession, to be autonomous, and to seek validation for what we do by pursuing additional knowledge and certification in their specialty. With the changing environment in healthcare and the image of nursing, I hope to be a catalyst in promoting this professionalism.