For more than a decade, Nurse.coms Nursing Excellence Awards program has recognized the extraordinary contributions Texas 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 five nurses in each of six categories, for a total of 30 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 devel
TeachingKatherine A. Cameron, RN
Katherine A. Cameron, RN, MSN
Former: Education Resource Specialist
Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center
If one were to measure success by the accomplishments of those they teach, Cameron would be a champion. In the past two years alone, she’s transitioned 28 new hires to safe team members; co-facilitated an orientation pilot program that helped 14 new graduates develop a solid foundation of assessment, documentation and administration skills before transitioning to assignment; and assimilated 105 nurse residents, with a retention rate of 94%, as the nurse residency facilitator for the inaugural class of the UHC’s nurse residency facilitator program. By understanding and identifying the needs and sensitivities in her students, Cameron consistently produces positive outcomes with measurable results. These results are demonstrated time and time again, including her orientation pilot for new hires being implemented in the ICU and the nurse residents in the facilitator program she instructed creating an EPB abstract that was accepted for poster presentation.Cynthia Carter, RN
Cynthia Carter, RN, BSN
Director of Education
Methodist Mansfield (Texas) Medical Center
Over the course of her 34-year career Carter has taught more than 2,500 nursing students. While impressive, that number fails to account for the hundreds of high-school students, interns, externs, and existing nurses who’ve benefitted from Carter’s devotion to nursing education. As someone concerned by and committed to the future of nursing, she developed the curriculum for a shadowing program for high school health and science students that allows them to visit the hospital twice weekly for three hours throughout the year. At the year’s end the students can take the Certified Nurse Assistant Program and work to earn money for nursing school. She’s helped create curriculum for interns and externs hoping to become lab techs, therapists, dieticians and pharmacists. Her investment in education is evidenced by the receipt of multiple awards for supporting the education of future nurses.Martina Gallagher, RN
Martina Gallagher, RN, PhD
University of Texas Health Science Center of Houston School of Nursing
To her students Gallagher is the embodiment of a perfect professor. She’s always available to answer questions and clarify, able to listen to personal problems, quick to cite research, new theories and personal anecdotes, vested in students’ success, passionate about her community and excited about her job. Gallagher inspires as well as educates. As someone whose compassion compels her to listen and provide useful advice on matters academic and personal, Gallagher has positively affected scores of students. Her genuine care for students underscores her love of the nursing profession. In addition to her students, Gallagher is vested in educating the Latino community, of which she is a member. Not only has she served as a mentor for juveniles, participated in child obesity programs and helped at women’s centers, but her advocacy for her community extends into academia. She is widely published on myriad subjects, including the advancement of nursing within the Hispanic community.Kerri L. Phelps, RN
Kerri L. Phelps, RN, BSN
Texas Children’s Hospital
Not surprisingly, when Phelps’ hospital converted to an electronic medical record system, some apprehension arose among staff members. Phelps, who is known to her employees as someone to call on whether they have a patient who’s a hard stick or just need a bit of candy to brighten his or her day, was quick to take actions that would quell staff’s anxiety. In addition to participating in extra training sessions to learn the EMR system backward and forward she developed a reference guide with detailed instructions. She picked up many night shifts when fewer knowledgeable staff members were on hand and frequently stayed late to work one-on-one with struggling employees. As someone who lives by the notion that it’s the little things that matter, Phelps is the consummate mentor. Encouraging staff members to call on her day or night, maintaining an open-door policy, helping employees submit for the clinical ladder — she empowers with little thought of personal gain.Joan Young, RN
Joan Young, RN, MS
Chamberlain College of Nursing
As a long-time educator, Young is nuanced in the best ways to instill lessons in different types of students. For traditional nursing students, textbooks are critical for learning. So Young co-authored and co-edited a textbook titled “Comprehensive Child and Nursing Skills,” which won the American Journal of Nursing Book Award in 1991. For uneducated youngsters living in poverty and at-risk for STDs, music oftentimes can disseminate knowledge. So Young recruited four teen rappers, taught them about AIDS awareness and helped them produce a song titled “AIDS: It’s Not a Game.” Young is so well respected as a teacher and researcher that her accomplishments — including publishing several articles related to AIDS and family nursing — have garnered numerous awards. Her accolades include the Outstanding Graduate Student Award by the Beta Delta Chapter of Sigma Theta International Honor Society and the 1996 Outstanding Teacher of the Year award by the University of Alaska-Anchorage.