For more than a decade, Nurse.coms Nursing Excellence Awards program has recognized the extraordinary contributions Florida nurses make to their patients, each other and the profession. This year, nurses from the region came forward to tell us about the unsung heroes of nursing RNs who make a difference in the profession every single day.
The grateful peers of these exceptional nursing professionals sent detailed nominations for Nurse.coms 2011 Nursing Excellence Awards. The nominees include staff nurses, specialists, nurse practitioners, vice presidents and nurse executives, and work in settings as disparate as occupational health, education, intensive care, cardiology, med/surg and pediatrics. No matter what the role or setting, these nurses have found ways to raise the bar for their peers and the quality of life of their patients.
Nurse.com hopes their stories will inspire all of our readers to reach for excellence.
From the many tributes we received for this years program, we narrowed the competition down to three nurses in each of six categories, for a total of 18 finalists.
Advancing and Leading the Profession: RNs who have made contributions that advanced and strengthened the nursing profession or the delivery of patient care. These nurses have made broadreaching contributions that affect the entire profession rather than a single organization.
Clinical Care: RNs who demonstrate excellence in direct-care delivery in any clinical setting. This category celebrates nurses who work directly with patients and their families.
Community Service: RNs who have made significant professional or voluntary contributions that improved patient care. These nurses have helped their community either as part of their jobs or as volunteers.
Management: RNs who have demonstrated exceptional management of nursing or patient-care services in any setting. This category honors managers who have a talent for developing successful employees and systems.
Mentoring: RNs who provide a positive professional influence, guidance and support of other nurses in any setting. These nurses have cultivated relationships that foster the development of their nurse colleagues.
Teaching: RNs who have made significant contributions in education, professional development and/or long-term learning of nursing professionals.
Robert Machado, MSN, PMHCNS-BC
Clinical Nurse Specialist-Mental Health
Bay Pines (Fla.) VA Healthcare System
Robert Machado’s teachings extend beyond Bay Pines VA Healthcare System. His mental health expertise has helped him to lead a post-traumatic stress disorder project in the community to educate the public about symptoms of the disorder that commonly affects veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Inside the hospital, Machado has used a clinical approach to bridge primary care and mental health services to address depression, the second-most prevalent chronic and disabling illness in the Department of Veteran Affairs healthcare system. The evidence-based program has helped more than 665 veterans who suffer from depression. He continues to revise and expand the facility’s mental health programs. For example, the program now includes assessments of anxiety, alcohol misuse and depression to tailor treatments to the needs of each veteran.
Machado actively participates in the orientation of new mental health nurses and partners with St. Petersburg College to host an annual psychiatric update continuing education program.
Regina Mirabella, RN, MSN
Pasco-Hernando Community College New Port Richey, Fla.
Regina Mirabella has a tool box of education. It includes her more than 30 years of nursing experience in pediatrics, home health, diabetic education and public health. Her students at Pasco-Hernando Community College receive all of that experience through her teaching. She also organizes trips to participate in the Florida Nurses Association’s Lobby Days to meet with state legislators about nursing and healthcare issues. As a training officer in the U.S. Army Reserves, Mirabella encourages soldiers to be the best medics, nurses, doctors and dentists they can be. Mirabella was the first nurse to be appointed to the Good Samaritan Health Clinic, which is designed to help people who need health care, but don’t qualify for services elsewhere. Mirabella, a 2009 Nurse of the Year for her work in Florida’s Pasco County, is a member of the State Emergency Responders Volunteers of Florida, which helps the state’s counties prepare for disasters by evaluating their performances during drills.
Sarah Perron, RN, MS, CMSRN
St. Joseph’s Hospital Tampa, Fla.
Sarah Perron has implemented three programs that are making a difference at St. Joseph’s Hospital. The first brings nursing research to the bedside nurse, a feat that had been attempted, but not accomplished in the past, her nominator wrote. Perron’s approach was inviting, not overwhelming, and eliminated RNs’ fears. A class every other month includes having the hospital’s nurses present their research. Perron’s second program stresses the importance of obtaining certifications and rewarding nurses who do. She hosts a Certification Tea during National Nurses Week and invites all of the hospital’s certified nurses to network, be recognized and be thanked for maintaining their specialty certification.
Her third program involves preceptor workshops to support nurses who precept new nurses and provide leadership to nursing students. The preceptors gather as a group to discuss concerns and share ideas including dealing with difficult people, managing different communication styles and generational differences.