The ballots are in and the regional winners have been selected. A panel of local nurse leaders chose six winners from among 18 finalists for Nursing Spectrums Nursing Excellence Awards program in the categories Advancing and Leading the Profession, Clinical Care, Community Service, Management, Mentoring and Teaching. These winners represent Florida RNs who have used their knowledge, skills and passion to catapult the nursing profession forward.
Its always a challenge to whittle the nominees down to six winners thats the hard part, says Terri Gaffney, RN, MPA, vice president, nursing communications & initiatives. The inspiring part is reading the nomination forms and hearing the amazing things so many nurses in Florida are accomplishing. Congratulations to our winners, to our finalists and to those who took the time to nominate an inspiring nurse for this award.
Floridas regional winners will be judged against other winners from across the country, with the national Nurse of the Year winners in each category to be announced at the end of the year.
Advancing and Leading the ProfessionKevin Metzing, RN
Kevin Metzing, RN, BS, CNOR
Florida Hospital, Orlando
Metzing was working in the for-profit business world when he realized he wanted more out of his professional life. He chose to become a nurse, and, in the last 18 years, has been an award-winning nurse leader at Florida Hospital. He is committed to strengthening the perioperative nursing specialty. As a member of the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, Metzing has held 21 national AORN volunteer positions. He has held many posts with the Florida Council of periOperative Registered Nurses, including vice chairman and his current position as treasurer. He has volunteered as a delegate to the Florida State Convention and was a three-year member of the Florida Nurses Association Bylaws Committee. A key issue he spearheaded was to convince legislators to pass a law ensuring that a one-to-one, nurse-to-surgical patient ratio was a state standard of care. Metzing also finds time to volunteer on medical mission trips to Mexico.
Clinical CareCarol Ann Terzigni, RN
Carol Ann Terzigni, RN, CCRN, AON
Edward White Hospital, St. Petersburg
For Terzigni, striving for clinical excellence is a daily practice. When the unit is unusually hectic and nurses become frustrated, she is first to identify the need for stress relief. She positively affects morale. For example, a young woman on the unit had a rare pulmonary disease. Despite her need for mechanical ventilation, the treatment plan included mobility exercises. Terzigni recognized the patients hesitation and spent time explaining the benefits of maintaining optimum physical status and how that would facilitate surgery and treatments to come. She prepared the patient emotionally and initiated activities slowly. On another occasion, she received a patient from the ED who was difficult to intubate because of tracheal swelling. The patient required sedation through most of his ICU stay. She tried to determine the reason for his anaphylaxis and helped discover that antibiotics he had purchased from Cuba were causing the reaction.
Community ServiceKaren Sondregger, RN
Karen Sondregger, RN
Director of Quality and Patient Safety
Bayfront Medical Center, St. Petersburg
In her 30 years at Bayfront Medical Center, Sondregger has held many leadership roles and consistently stepped in when there were vacancies in nursing leadership positions in the facility. She has not only led critical care, but also case management. She also has spearheaded nursing committees and evaluated and developed the electronic medical record process within the organization. Sondregger is a great mentor to new leaders at Bayfront within the organization, whether or not they report to her. She is active with organ donation activities at the hospital and in the community. When one of her managers was battling metastatic lung cancer, Sondregger organized a team of employees within the organization to participate in fundraising activities with the American Lung Association.
ManagementSylvia Conlee, RN
Sylvia Conlee, RN, MSN, CPN
Nurse Manager, Children’s Services
Coral Springs Medical Center, Coral Springs
A strong clinician and manager, Conlee recognized the need for Coral Springs Medical Center to provide more services to patients and implement best practice standards. She recommended and implemented protocols for rapid response, sedation, seizure, sepsis, pediatric standard dosing, pediatric standard concentrations and more. Conlee strives to provide the best care by making sure available equipment is appropriate for pediatrics. She collaborates with the child life specialist, who she worked with to initiate a new patient (including teen patients) play room. Conlee works with specialty physicians of all areas to promote best practice standards in the delivery of care. Overseeing an annual budget of $5 million might seem challenging, but Conlee has been able to develop a strong pediatric team that works in unison to provide the best care to patients.
MentoringCarol DiMura, RN
Carol DiMura, RNC, MSN
Morton Plant Mease Health Care, Dunedin
DiMura was involved in development and teaching when she started as a staff nurse 30 years ago. Later, as a retention specialist, DiMura identified 12 clinical nurse residents (new RNs) at risk of leaving the organization. She assessed their individual learning needs and worked directly with them, as well as with their preceptors and managers. Nine successfully completed orientation. Most remained on their initial unit of hire, but, when this was not possible, DiMura arranged for placement on another unit. This planted the seed for the orientation unit, which DiMura developed in her role as education specialist. The premise is that new nurses go to specific orientation units, where highly trained orientation preceptors help integrate and retain them. DiMura helped train the orientation unit preceptors in a class designed specifically for these preceptors.
TeachingJames Morello, RN
James J. Morello, RN, MSN, Ed
Mental Health Nurse Educator
Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, Bay Pines
Morello meets with each mental health nurse manager to develop an educational plan providing inservices to each area. An example is the training related to using proper documentation for observation levels and restraint and seclusion protocols. Morello is an excellent resource for staff and provides direction when staff members are performing literature searches. He continually works with the nurse managers to plan and develop inservices to meet the staffs needs. He chairs the nursing evidence-based practice committee, increasing staff awareness related to EBP. Morello has developed a new model of education for the service, bringing the training to the point of care. This has increased attendance by 75% compared to the previous model.