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2009 Nursing Image Awards Clinical Practice Winners

The 2009 Nursing Image Awards honor nurses whose leadership, teamwork, and clinical expertise embody an image of nursing excellence and who make a difference in improving patient care, quality outcomes, nurse satisfaction, and the healthcare environment.

A panel of nurse leaders and senior editorial staff from HCPro served as judges for the awards, which will be presented at the 2009 Excellence in Leadership seminar in Boston on September 21.

About the award

Last year, HCPro, Inc. asked nurses around the country to submit nominations for the 2009 Nursing Image Awards. We received a deluge of wonderful entries, and after weeks of careful deliberations, here are the winners in the clinical practice category.

This category concerns the image of nursing in clinical practice. It recognizes nurses who portray a positive image of nursing through their clinical excellence, and who have made significant contributions to improve patient outcomes, patient safety/quality initiatives, staff satisfaction, practice changes, research or evidence-based practice projects, interdisciplinary collaboration, or organizational goals.

Winner: Image of nursing in clinical practice

Neonatal ICU team at University Hospital of Brooklyn SUNY Downstate Medical Center

The nomination essay detailed the team's focus on quality improvement issues and dedication to providing compassionate, competent care to patients and their families. In addition, the team is always focused on continuing education and works to present a positive image of nursing:
"We are proud to nominate the nurses in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for their outstanding team work and achievement of clinical excellence. The NICU is currently launching a major campaign to encourage specialty certification and membership in professional organizations. Twenty-three percent of the staff are now certified and 45% are members of national neonatal nursing organizations."

Co-nurse managers Marcia Warner, MA, BSN, RNC-NIC, and Juliette Lowe, MSN, BSN, CNS lead the NICU. "We're not just a nursing team. We are a team that values every player: the doctors, the housekeepers, the clerk. Everyone who works here is a part of our team," says Warner.

"The NICU team has chosen important improvement strategies that not only affect the health of the NICU baby while in the hospital, but also the long-term health and safety after discharge," says judge Sharon Courage, RN, MPH, vice president of hospital services and a senior consultant with The Greeley Company. "The decrease in [central line-associated bloodstream infections] is quite impressive, but they didn't stop there. In considering the health and welfare of the baby, they embarked on projects that educate parents on techniques such as CPR, choking baby, and first aid that can save the infant's life after discharge."
Judge Shelley Cohen, RN, BSN, CEN, president of Health Resources Unlimited, coauthor of the book The Image of Nursing, and speaker at Excellence in Leadership, shared a similar sentiment.

"This team demonstrated that the image of nursing goes beyond the bedside," says Cohen. "Their post discharge follow-up process and proactive education for the parents are truly excellence in clinical practice. Their overt support for their professional organization and recognition of the value of specialty certification are essential elements for nursing's professional image. This combination of factors provides role modeling for the future of the profession."

Honorable mention: Image of nursing in clinical practice

Laurie Anderson, RN, MIS, Southern New Hampshire Medical Center

Laurie's nomination essay revealed she is a project manager for clinical information systems at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center and has been the information system representative for the shared governance council.

Her colleagues say her demeanor and her leadership qualities are what set her apart:

"Laurie is very upbeat and has loads of energy," says Ann McLaughlin, RN, BSN, MBA, NE-BC, professional development educator. "Clinically, she is superb. Then she takes that expertise and applies it to nursing documentation."

"Laurie is a strong advocate, coach, and mentor when it comes to education of the nursing staff. Not only in computer education, but also in nursing practice," says Lynne MacAllister, RN, BSN, CPHIMS, director of clinical informatics.

Laurie works to promote the image of nursing throughout the organization and has even delivered a presentation—called "Putting power in professional hands"—at the national conference on the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®.

"She is the example of our image at its finest, demonstrating professional growth as an individual nurse as well as ongoing mentoring through recognition of others," says Cohen. "Leading the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® journey and engaging nursing in electronic health record implementation demonstrates a drive for clinical excellence. This nurse has demonstrated pivotal actions in a short period of time that have truly impacted patient care within her organization."

Courage was also impressed.

"This candidate possesses the characteristics of a strong nurse leader," she says. "Her contribution to excellence in clinical practice are demonstrated through her role in nursing informatics. Bridging the gap between clinical practice and the electronic medical record is a very important and difficult role that requires well developed communication skills and an integrated approach to managing patient care."

Honorable mention: Image of nursing in clinical practice

Maribel Falzone, LPN, Provena Pine View Care Center

The nomination essay about Maribel Falzone, LPN, painted a picture of a nurse whose clinical excellence is second to none, and whose compassion and competence elevate her to a position where she lifts the image of nursing in everyone's eyes.

The essay read: "When thinking of a nurse, each person projects a certain image to themselves. That image produces a feeling of calm confidence coupled with the expertise to address issues timely and with professionalism. This image of the ideal nurse conveys consistently that no fact is too small to communicate and that only through open, complete communications can a family feel secure that their loved one's needs are being met. When someone entrusts their loved one to our imagined nurse's care, they do so knowing that she possesses what is necessary to produce a sense of security that is palpable, along with clinical expertise that is trusted and respected in her field. Imagine this nurse, imagine Maribel Falzone, LPN."

The judges noted the respect Maribel has earned from all who encounter her.

"This nurse has not only earned the respect of her peers, but of her physician partners," says Kathleen Bartholomew, RC, RN, MN, coauthor of the book The Image of Nursing, consultant, and speaker at Excellence in Leadership. "She role models the value that she places on the team and fosters collaboration. By seeking excellence in her clinical practice and then sharing this information in a collaborative manner, she elevates the entire nursing profession."