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The Best of the Best’s 2011 Nursing Excellence Awards gala June 2 at the Teaneck (N.J.) Marriott at Glenpointe honored 30 exceptional RNs from New York and New Jersey. From the 30 finalists, six of those nurses were named regional winners of the annual competition.

Addressing more than 500 guests and honorees in attendance, Eileen P. Williamson, RN, MSN, senior vice president for nursing communications and initiatives at, welcomed everyone to “a wonderful evening of celebrating all that is best in nursing.”

“It is because of you that we are all here this evening, and it is because of you and your fellow nurses that healthcare in the United States — and the lives of patients all over the nation — are made better each and every day,” Williamson said of the 30 finalists.

Before reading the glowing nominations that garnered the regional nominees a place in the competition, Williamson turned the podium over to Jean Scheuer, vice president for advertising, to officially thank and recognize the many sponsors of the evening’s event. They included national sponsor Johnson & Johnson, The Campaign for Nursing’s Future; Bernard Hodes Group, cocktail reception sponsor; North Shore-LIJ Health System, platinum sponsor, NewYork-Presbyterian, gold-plus sponsor; Hackensack University Medical Center, gold sponsor; and a host of silver sponsors. Scheuer also acknowledged the nurses in attendance as guests of their facilities who participated in the “Honor Your Own” nurse recognition program.

The RNs representing New York and New Jersey’s best of the best were honored in the categories of Advancing and Leading the Profession, Clinical Care, Community Service, Management, Mentoring and Teaching. Each of the 30 nurses received a plaque in recognition of their achievement. The six regional winners will advance to the national competition in October.

ADVANCING AND LEADING THE PROFESSION: Stephen R. Marrone, RN-BC, EdD, CTN-A, deputy nursing director, Institute of Continuous Learning, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Stephen R. Marrone, RN

Along with being one of just 35 nursing fellows in the New York Academy of Medicine, Marrone also is one of 32 transcultural nursing scholars in the world. He believes involving frontline nurses in research endeavors is extremely important to advancing the profession. “Having a scientific background is essential to maintaining safety for our patients, and it brings something strong to the table when we’re brainstorming with other disciplines,” he said.

Marrone believes his involvement with these types of organizations is what keeps him motivated to do his part to get nursing its due credit. “The activities that are outside of my day-to-day fuel me to bring my everything to the day-to-day,” he said.

Those activities include being a member of the certification commission of the transcultural nursing commission and co-chairman of the academy’s newly formed interdisciplinary cultural competence special interest group. According to Marrone, the group has 12 members of which about a third are nurses. Even so, both co-chairs are nurses.

“Nurses who are leaders should always go outside of their norm,” he said. Upon accepting his award, Marrone said, “The other finalists made it that much more meaningful.”

CLINICAL CARE: Brandee A. Fetherman, RN, MSN, CCRN, ICU clinical coordinator Morristown (N.J.) Memorial Hospital

Brandee A. Fetherman, RN

When Fetherman received the email from Williamson telling her she’d been chosen as a regional nominee, she immediately forwarded it to her manager, who said matter-of-factly, “We’re going to celebrate again in June.” Manager Denise Fochesto was a 2006 Nurse Excellence winner in the management category and sincerely believed the judges also would recognize Fetherman was an exceptional clinical nurse.

An ICU nurse since starting at Morristown 12 years ago, Fetherman says she has chosen to stay at the bedside as a clinical coordinator because it allows her to have “the best of both worlds. I can make a true impact at the bedside by being a voice for the staff I supervise and their patients,” she said.

Fetherman acknowledges managers such as Fochesto as a reason for her win and zest for her job. “The hospital I work for allows me to be empowered,” she said. “I work alongside 1,500 Magnet nurses who truly make a difference.”

Fetherman is looking forward to moving on to the national awards. “It’s an honor that takes the time to recognize what nurses do at the bedside,” she said. “To be a small part of that is wonderful.”

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Clare Ceballos, APRN-BC, MA, PNP, WOCN, pediatric nurse practitioner, The Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York City

Clare Ceballos, RN

Ceballos said she was “really surprised” when her name was called as a finalist in the Community Service category. “There were a lot of good stories,” she said. “It was really humbling.”

Those who work with her in the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinic at Mount Sinai or volunteer with her at two camps for children with life-threatening illnesses were not the least bit surprised. A dedicated practitioner, Ceballos is clinical coordinator of the children’s IBD center. “We have a big population of these kinds of kids, and we wanted to provide the best interdisciplinary care possible for them,” she said.

She oversees a variety of activities to improve children’s and families’ mental well-being. “We wanted to address the needs of children and their families,” she said. “We thought that education was important to managing these kids, so we have support groups for them and their siblings and a lecture series for families.”

Other support mechanisms also were developed, such as a program where experienced parents of children with IBD are matched with parents of newly diagnosed children and one where young adults with IBD talk with peers who suffer from the disease.

MANAGEMENT: Lorraine Carroll, RN, CCRN, nurse manager, CTICU/CICU, Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Lorraine Carroll, RN

Carroll began her management career in 1988 as an assistant nurse manager, then became manager just a year later. She was working as the critical care educator at another facility in 2003 when her nominator called and asked if she would be interested in coming back to Maimonides in a management role.

Carroll missed working in management, and agreed to return. “The desire for patient contact was calling me back to the bedside,” she said. “I knew that the only way for me to accurately evaluate [the nurses’] competence levels, I’d need to be wearing scrubs every day, too.”

Being chosen as the regional finalist in the Management category was “a complete and total surprise,” Carroll said. “After listening to the other stories, I didn’t think I would win.”

According to Carroll, she was overwhelmed and humbled to be chosen a finalist and is extremely grateful for the recognition. “As nurses, we typically just plow through our day, not recognizing the impact of what we do,” she said.

MENTORING: M. Isabel Friedman, RN, BC, CCRN, CNN, MPA, DNP, clinical education specialist, North Shore-LIJ Health System, Lake Success, N.Y.

M. Isabel Friedman, RN

A 36-year nursing veteran, Friedman said she was “shocked, pleased and so honored” to receive the award in the Mentoring category.

Five years ago, she began teaching when she became involved in North Shore University Hospital’s critical care nurse fellowship program, which primarily prepares new graduates for work in critical care. “I found that the new grads were bright, capable and extremely grateful for the opportunity,” she said.

At the time, she was working as a clinical education specialist and given the opportunity to continue her own education. “Around the same time, the health system sent us for our doctorates,” she said. “I worked with medical simulation to promote patient safety and was able to share that with the new grads in the program.”

For Friedman, mentoring is essential to nursing’s existence. “Mentoring is a necessity,” she said. “New grads thrive with substantial mentoring and support — not just academic support, but professional and emotional, as well.”

TEACHING: Virginia Flynn, RN, MSN, CCRN, education specialist, Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center

Virginia Flynn, RN

Of the 35 years Flynn has been a nurse, she has spent 25 in pediatric critical care and eight as a formal teacher. Although her previous title did not include instructor, Flynn was the go-to nurse in the pediatric ICU when a new procedure needed to be learned.

“I’ve always wanted to teach,” she said. She already was teaching patients and staff informally and when a position opened, she officially became the pediatric instructor. In that position, she develops the curriculum at Hackensack’s teaching hospital and is the instructor for the inpatient units, teaching the bedside clinical nurses and new nurses any new procedures that need to be taught.

Flynn’s secret to teaching is simple: You have to be a really good coach. “You have to make them believe they can do what you want them to do,” she said. “I just tell them ‘I know you can do it’ and they do. The most important thing is to believe in your students, and they’ll do the best they can do.”

By | 2020-04-15T13:17:08-04:00 June 27th, 2011|Categories: New York/New Jersey Metro, Regional|0 Comments

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