Mary Blessing, MSN, RN, director of nurse residency, education and research at the University of New Mexico Hospital, Albuquerque, received the New Mexico Distinguished Nurse of the Year award at the 2014 New Mexico Nursing Excellence Awards Oct. 11 at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya on the Santa Ana Pueblo, near Bernalillo, N.M.
A total of 20 nurses, three retired nurses, a nursing student and one individual were honored at the awards, according to a news release.
A nurse for 40 years, Blessing oversees education, research and nurse recruitment and retention programs at the UNMH 450-bed academic medical center and supervises a staff of 88 full-time employees.
She is credited with creating a nurse residency program that has increased the one-year retention rate for new nurses to 90% and the five-year retention rate for nurses to 75%. The program, which admitted 75 new graduates this year, is one of nine programs across the U.S. that have been accredited by the Committee on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Since this program was started over a decade ago, we have seen an increase in the number of baccalaureate prepared nurses in our hospital, and a significant increase in nurses returning to school to obtain advanced degrees, Margaret Edwards, MSN, RN, the executive director of the UNM Psychiatric Center, in nominating Blessing for the award, said in the release.
Blessing also is responsible for beginning the Youth Empowerment Project, now in its third year, which encourages young people in underserved ethnic minority groups to consider careers in healthcare.
She also helped establish the Gallup Indian Health Services Trauma training program, which trains nurses in neurotrauma assessments to help the IHS hospital maintain its Level 3 Trauma designation and educate staff on appropriate and timely transfers of patients from their facility to a Level 1 trauma center.
A total of 161 nominations were submitted for this years Nursing Excellence Awards, according to the release.
The New Mexico Nursing Excellence Awards recognize excellence in nursing practice and honor nurses for the contributions they make to their organizations, communities and the state. Proceeds from the Nursing Excellence Awards program support the New Mexico Center for Nursing Excellence.