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New award recognizes nurses for leading changes in healthcare

Ten nurses will be recognized as the recipients of the new Breakthrough Leaders in Nursing award created by the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a joint initiative of AARP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, according to a news release.

“It’s amazing to see the difference that these 10 people are making in their communities and the healthcare system,” Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, RWJF’s senior adviser for nursing and director of the Campaign for Action, said in the news release. “The lives of the people they care for are better because they fearlessly tackled — or are tackling — daunting healthcare challenges.”

The Campaign for Action created the Breakthrough Leaders in Nursing award to celebrate nurse leadership and the importance of efforts by nurses to improve health and healthcare. “These outstanding leaders truly represent the future of nursing,” Susan Reinhard, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior vice president of the AARP Public Policy Institute and chief strategist at the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in the release. “We look forward to working with them as they lead change to advance health.”

The 2014 Breakthrough Leaders in Nursing award recipients include the following:

AnnMarie Walton, MPH, BSN, PhD candidate, is a clinical oncology nurse at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital, Chapel Hill. Walton noticed a pattern of young Hispanic men, mostly farm workers, were being diagnosed with leukemia and were dying in their 20s. She launched a study to understand how they could better protect themselves in the fields and what was preventing them from doing so. She also advocated enhanced protections for healthcare workers handling hazardous drugs, such as chemotherapies. Her work led to policy changes in North Carolina, where the state now mandates compliance with NIOSH recommendations for the safe handling of hazardous drugs, according to the release.

Dan Lose, BSN, DNP candidate, who works at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital and is on the board of directors of the Iowa Nurses Association, is focused on increasing the number of BSN nurses and improving access to nurse residency programs for new graduates.

Danielle Howa Pendergrass, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, opened Eastern Utah Women’s Health, an independent practice that serves more than 20,000 women, both insured and uninsured, and provides pap smears, mammograms, contraception, primary care and more to women from three counties. “Now patients do not have to drive over 60 miles to see a women’s health care provider,” Pendergrass said in the release.

Diana Ruiz, DNP, BSN, RN, is director of population health at Medical Center Health System in Odessa, Texas. As part of her doctoral studies, she implemented a program utilizing nursing students to prevent bed sores and reduced her hospital’s rate, which reduced Medicaid costs.

Dorene Hersh, MSN, RN, helped to launch the first day care center for medically fragile children in California and led the effort to adopt new licensing regulations and guidelines that helped to keep the children safe, according to the release. She oversees 250 public health nurses as the Chief of Nursing at Public Health, Seattle-King County, Washington.

Frances Keeler, MSN, RN, works for Vermont’s Division of Licensing and Protection as the state survey agency director, leading the regulation of Vermont’s healthcare facilities. Her work has improved the safe use of restraints and seclusion for patients with mental illness, according to the release.

Jake Creviston, MN, RN, PMHNP, DNP student, has conducted nursing missions to Central America and Africa, where he helped to build a medical clinic for Ugandan refugees and co-founded a nongovernmental organization dedicated to the work. As a charge nurse of a medical/cardiac ICU, he advocated for dying patients. He recently launched a new psychiatric advanced nursing practice that serves people’s health needs as well as psychological and social challenges in a primary care setting.

Jessica Gonzalez Contreras, MPH, BSN, RN, has studied healthcare systems in China and South Africa and is striving to improve the diversity of the nursing workforce. “I have come full circle,” Contreras said in the release. She provides in-home care to first-time, low-income mothers through the Nurse Family Partnership of Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana. “I am helping people who need it most while also recruiting a future generation of nurses to become leaders.”

Josie L. Veal, PhD, RN, APRN, has worked as a sexual assault examiner, an advanced practice nurse in a correctional setting, a surgical nurse and as an operating room nurse in the United States Army Reserve. Currently, she is on the nursing faculty of Milwaukee Area Technical College and a board member of the Wisconsin Center for Nursing and Milwaukee Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association. Veal is working to raise standards and improve diversity as a member of the Wisconsin Action Coalition. “I want to give minority nurse populations a greater voice in the future of nursing,” Veal said.

Maria Torchia LoGrippo, PhD, MSN, BSN, started her nursing career at the National Institutes of Health’s Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, where she learned the importance of collaborative care and patient trust. Her goal is to ensure high quality care for New Jersey residents and promote nursing education through the New Jersey Action Coalition’s work to create models for seamless academic progression, according to the news release.

To learn more about the Breakthrough Leaders in Nursing award recipients, visit

By | 2014-11-25T00:00:00-05:00 November 25th, 2014|Categories: National|0 Comments

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