Greater Chicago Nursing Excellence Finalists: Mentoring

By | 2022-02-11T11:30:40-05:00 April 19th, 2010|0 Comments

Finalists for the Nursing Spectrum Nursing Excellence Awards event, which takes place May 5 in Schaumburg, Ill., in the Mentoring category are as follows:

Phyllis Lawlor-Klean, RNC, MS, APN/CNS
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, Ill.
Nominated by: Wendy Micek

Phyllis Lawlor-Klean has provided care to the critically ill in the neonatal intensive care unit for more than three decades in the roles of clinical nurse specialist, adjunct instructor, education consultant, orientation coordinator and staff nurse. She excels as a positive professional influence in providing guidance and support for nurses practicing in the NICU. Lawlor-Klean has established a learning environment that allows her associates to feel comfortable in asking questions. She has a warm and welcoming style of mentorship, inspiring nurses by enthusiastically encouraging them to become involved in projects, then gently guiding them along the way. Lawlor-Klean has been instrumental in mentoring the NICU staff to seek Success Through Excellence in Practice (STEPS) application for promotion. Nurse colleagues have benefited from Lawlor-Klean’s mentoring in many other projects, including ECMO competency, Prisma competency, Growing Families education, chest tube maintenance and competency, peritoneal dialysis competency, surgical asepsis competency, intra ventricular hemorrhage and skin and wound care. She also provided mentorship in the mandated neonatal evacuation program. Her coaching and guidance in the area of research is outstanding. She motivated staff nurses’ involvement in a feeding readiness project and worked with two nurses to develop a feeding protocol for preterm infants. In her usual gentle, encouraging way, she challenged the nurses to expand their project into a protocol requiring institutional review board approval and led them through the application process. That was only the beginning of her encouragement. Those nurses since have presented their work at a national research summit.

Karen Stratton, RNC

Karen Stratton, RNC, MSN, CARN, APN
Medical Psychiatric Consultation Liaison Nurse
Rush University Medical Center, Chicago
Nominated by: Jill Swinning (on behalf of the Recognition Committee)

Karen Stratton is an invaluable resource that many nurses rely upon for help with their most difficult patients. Even though her workload is enormous, she works tirelessly. Long before aggressive behavior from patients and families was a hot topic, she advocated for a safe and respectful environment for both patients and staff. She counseled staff that bullying and threats from patients are forms of abuse and taught staff members how to proactively address the behavior. Her teachings have been invaluable when violent words have escalated into violent actions. Several years ago, when one unit experienced a surge in aggressive verbal and physical violence, Stratton was the behavioral expert on the interdisciplinary team to address this issue. Again, she worked individually with the unit’s staff, mentoring them on how to set limits and what to do, and she continues to mentor fellow nurses today.

Donald Houchins, RN

Donald Houchins, RN, MSN, NE-BC
Director, Maternal-Child Services and Nursing Professional Development
Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, Chicago
Nominated by: Patricia Endara and Sophia M. Schild

Donald Houchins is director of maternal-child services and nursing professional development at a community-based acute care hospital in a culturally diverse, urban environment. A nurse for more than 30 years, Houchins’ choice to purse neonatal nursing was groundbreaking in what was a purely female profession. Today, the hospital at which he works serves a large indigent population. Houchins works well in diverse environments because he accepts people for who they are, helps them to identify their strengths, and finds opportunities for their personal growth. He has served as a mentor and preceptor for students in master of nursing programs, and was available to meet their growth and educational needs. A number of the nurses Houchins has taught at the baccalaureate level have gone on to do their extern rotations at Resurrection Healthcare, and many have sought positions there based on their relationships with him. Students and new grads seek out Houchins’ mentoring. He collaborated with other facilities in the hospital’s system to develop a research program for staff nurses. Houchins helped those nurses identify research opportunities in their clinical settings, and assisted in their development of research proposals and in completing their projects. He also has facilitated professional growth by helping to develop the facility’s clinical ladder program. Houchins has been in education for more than 20 years, serving as a teacher, mentor, administrator and role model for graduates and nurses. Passionate about nursing education, Houchins created a new graduate program aimed at helping these graduates transition into the workplace. The program provides a forum for nurses to speak freely and share their experiences as new employees. He invites managers to attend and encourages them to discuss issues and solve problems. Houchins has impacted nurses individually, as well, mentoring many. He works with his department and the floors to help preceptors maximize their abilities to retain current and newly hired nurses. And, as adjunct faculty, he brings to the classroom real-world experiences. Houchins chairs the research committee and assists nurses to do research. His commitment is evidenced by his enthusiasm, lobbying to hire a researcher to work with staff and educators to promote nursing research. Houchins believes nursing education is a lifelong process and attends and teaches hospital courses. He was instrumental in developing the first local chapter for national nursing staff development, uniting educators in the Chicago area. He serves as the group’s leader and encourages others to join. As a result, more than 30 nurses have become members.

J. Alanna Ackerson, RN

J. Alanna Ackerson, RN, MS, APRN,BC, ONC
Advanced Practice Nurse, Clinical Educator
Northwest Community Hospital, Arlington Heights, Ill.
Nominated by: Dave Hanson

J. Alanna Ackerson’s unrelenting passion and professional vision have touched countless nurses, patients and families. In 2004, she completed her master’s training to become an adult nurse practitioner and has continued to push the envelope to create synergy among practice, education and research. Ackerson is seen as an extraordinary role model who is unconditionally committed to never leaving anyone behind. As a role model, Ackerson is the first to advocate for nursing and the last to complain about the time commitment. Her greatest gift is her ability to coach, nurture, teach and mentor. When she was needed to help guide other educators on the use of simulation to enhance learning outcomes, she did not hesitate. Ackerson was a logical choice because of her credibility in both the nursing academic and service settings. Her unique ability to see the big picture without losing the individual contributions of others made it easy for others to trust her, and Ackerson excelled at translating information clearly and succinctly so everyone achieved a shared understanding. Ackerson’s contributions are far reaching. In 2006, she was invited to serve as a chapter reviewer for the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses Core Curriculum textbook. She also recently completed a research study fellowship on the Efficacy of Continuous Peripheral Nerve Block (CPNB) in the Management of Total Knee Arthroplasty Pain. This project contributed greatly to the body of nursing science and helped nurses better understand the importance of preoperative education as a tool for improving patient outcomes related to pain control.

Karen Sticha, RN

Karen Sticha, RN, BSN, OCN
Clinician 3
Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, Ill.
Nominated by: Marita Ripple, RN, OCN

Karen Sticha is always at the top of the list to precept new employees. She is especially astute at giving new RNs just out of training the nurturing attention they need and want. Sticha is patient with new staff and takes time to find out the strengths they bring to the unit. She then builds on those strengths. Sticha goes out of her way to make each new nurse feel at home and respected. She is always there as a support and role model, even after those who complete orientation have been sent out on their own. One special situation involved a new graduate who specifically became a nurse because of the kind and compassionate care Sticha had given the new RN’s father years before during his treatments for leukemia. The new nurse specifically came to our unit to be with the nurses who made a difference to her and her family. Sticha is the go-to person to try to help new employees who are having trouble adjusting to the unit. She usually can find a way to nurture them and get them up to speed. She also helps when her colleagues’ lives take a turn for the worse. Several RNs from her unit have been diagnosed with cancer, lupus and other illnesses, and Sticha has helped every one of them with support at home and at work.


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