Nurse.com is pleased to honor the six nurses selected as national winners of the 2011 Nursing Excellence Awards. These outstanding RNs were chosen by Nurse.coms national advisory board members from a pool of regional winners from around the country.
One winner was selected in each of the following categories: advancing and leading the profession, clinical care, community service, management, mentoring and teaching.
This group of outstanding nurses epitomizes the best of who nurses are and what this wonderful profession of ours has to offer, said Eileen P. Williamson, RN, MSN, Nurse.com senior vice president, nursing communications & initiatives. We are honored to have the privilege of recognizing their contributions to the nursing profession. They are true nursing role models who are visionary, talented, professional and committed.
Advancing and Leading the ProfessionMarilyn Chow, RN
Marilyn P. Chow, RN, DNSc, FAAN
Vice president of National Patient Care Services
Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Calif.
Chow is a tireless advocate for excellence and has used her vision, passion and ability to innovate and build consensus to make significant contributions to nursing. But rather than look back at the accomplishments of her 40-year career, she prefers to think of the future.
All of us in nursing will have to think differently about how we design care for an aging population that will be predominant in this country, Chow said. I spend my time thinking about how we will innovate and what kind of technology could we use to be helpful in monitoring patients, so its not intrusive and not complicated.
Chow has served on boards of multiple organizations, such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellows Program and The Joint Commission Resources Board. She has written books and undertaken research to advance the professions knowledge.
I want to help organizations and our own system stay focused to make a difference for the clinicians who are caring for our patients, Chow said. I have always believed in what nurses can contribute, and Ive always looked for opportunities to maximize that value. Nurses can step up and take a leadership role, and this is the perfect time for us to provide that leadership.
Clinical CareBrandee Fetherman, RN
Brandee A. Fetherman, RN, MSN, CCRN
Clinical coordinator, ICU
Morristown Memorial Hospital, Morristown, N.J.
As chairwoman of the hospitals quality program, Fetherman never loses focus on ensuring every patient receives the best care possible. But teamwork and collaboration are key to achieving successful patient outcomes.
Everything we have accomplished [on the unit], we have accomplished together - the high-quality of care we give and the differences we make, Fetherman said.
She has successfully led multiple unit and hospitalwide initiatives. Through a collaboration with the house medical staff, she increased nurses time at the bedside by reducing hours spent calling physicians. She investigated the use of different pain scale tools for nonverbal patients and spearheaded quality improvement programs, achieving or exceeding goals for preventing pressure ulcers, falls and urinary catheter-associated infections; reducing restraint use; and eliminating specimen collection errors. Through all this, Fetherman proudly continues to provide direct patient care.
I put on my scrubs and sneakers every day, Fetherman said. Every nurse is empowered to take ownership of our own quality.
Community ServiceMalinda Cannon, RN
Malinda Cannon, RN, BSN
School nurse, Drop Out Recovery Program
Venture School, Arlington Independent School District, Arlington, Texas
Cannon never expected to work with children and definitely didnt anticipate the joy she has experienced caring for students in the Drop Out Recovery Program. These children often face difficult circumstances in addition to having a last chance at a high-school diploma.
I get to [create a] vision of a future for them, Cannon said. I spend my days teaching the kids about their bodies and health and life lessons. Im helping them move into the adult world and be successful.
As Cannon builds relationships with the students, they become more receptive to her messages.
They trust I care about them, she said. They come to me with their most trusted and frightening questions.
Cannon also secures donations, like food, clothing and free dental care, to benefit the students.
My role as a school nurse has been a great vehicle for these community connections, Cannon said. The school I work in has allowed me a platform to do the exciting work I do. Its a mission, not a job.
ManagementCathy Rodgers Ward, RN
Cathy Rodgers Ward, RN, DNSc, NEA-BC
Director of nursing
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles
Ward has led the medical centers inpatient department of nursing since 2000 with clarity, skill and vision. Patient satisfaction rankings have risen from the mid-60th to the 90th percentile during her tenure. A former critical care nurse, she views management as an opportunity to influence the care of a greater number of patients than she could personally touch.
As you evolve in your career, you see the role of the manager is to impact patient care, Ward said.
Recognizing, mentoring and nurturing talent, she raises the bar of quality nursing throughout the organization and the profession.
Ward works collaboratively with colleagues across all levels, from executive to frontline, encouraging team work, while empowering and inspiring individuals with whom she works.
She recently led the successful development of daily multidisciplinary rounds, and length of stay has declined while patient and staff satisfaction have increased.
The patient experience has evolved over the years, Ward said. Whatever role I have played in that, I am proud of that. And our clinical outcomes are excellent.
MentoringLauren Fagan, RN
Lauren Fagan, RN, BSN
Nurse manager, cardiac care unit Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Philadelphia
To be an effective mentor, Fagan finds creative ways to motivate people to realize their goals and potential. She assesses each nurses needs and tailors her coaching to help each individual achieve success. Fagan said her former experiences as a travel nurse gave her an appreciation of the importance of welcoming new staff and building their comfort level.
Although Fagan typically is the first person into the patients room when something goes wrong, she also knows when to step back and serve as a resource. By doing so, she has helped new nurses build the clinical knowledge they need to serve their patients.
You have to know when in an emergency to act and to know when you can talk someone through it, and they can feel confident in it the next time something happens, Fagan said. Afterward, she likes to talk through opportunities for improvement.
Fagans guidance has been instrumental in enhancing nurses abilities to lead from the bedside and to serve on committees and shape practice.
I love opening the eyes of not only the new grad but also as a nurse progresses in the profession, Fagan said.
TeachingMiriam Greenspan, RN
Miriam Greenspan, RN, MS
Nursing program director and manager of the Center for Nursing Excellence
Brigham and Womens Hospital, Boston
A rare and gifted teacher, Greenspan created Brigham and Womens simulation program and inspires others with her passion for learning through the use of this technology-based teaching modality. Her work gives staff the opportunity for developmental learning, infuses them with nursing knowledge and allows them to synthesize theory with practice.
The program is founded on the idea of partnership with clinicians who come to us seeking simulation programs, Greenspan said. We teach them the art of program creation, and they teach us a little something about the content area.
Greenspan explained the program teaches not just skills and clinical content; it emphasizes the practice of nursing.
Greenspan established a hospitalwide Nurse Director Role Development program to help nurse managers achieve leadership competence. The content includes application of complex clinical situations in the experience of learning about preceptorship. She has taken that program to another hospital out of state.
Debra Wood, RN, is a freelance writer.