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Most notable nurses of 2009: The votes are in for the Nursing Image Awards … and here are the winners

Image of nursing

After reading this article, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the purpose of the Nursing Image Awards
  • List the two categories for the 2009 awards

We received close to 200 nominations for the two categories in the HCPro 2009 Nursing Image Awards—and all the candidates exemplified professionalism and compassion that made them stand out to their peers.

The image of nursing is a collective expression of the pride and professionalism each nurse feels, and then portrays to members of the healthcare team and society. The purpose of the search was to identify and recognize those nurses who demonstrate pride, professionalism, and excellence, and thereby embody a positive image of nursing that elevates the profession as a whole.

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 pre-sented at the 2009 Excellence in Leadership seminar in Boston September 21.

Image of nursing in clinical practice

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

The neonatal ICU (NICU) team at University Hospital of Brooklyn (NY) SUNY Downstate Medical Center was selected as the winner in this category.

The nurses were recognized for their outstanding teamwork and pursuit of quality improvement. One of the initiatives noted by the judges was a project in which the staff developed and implemented a bundle of care measures to reduce central line-associated bloodstream infections. Other notable projects included post-discharge phone calls to check up on patients and a patient satisfaction survey given to all parents so RNs can benchmark how their team is perceived.

“This team demonstrated that the image of nursing goes beyond the bedside,” says judge Shelley Cohen, RN, BSN, CEN, president of Health Resources Unlimited in Hohenwald, TN, author, and speaker at Excellence in Leadership. “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.”

Sharon Courage, RN, MPH, vice president of hospital services and a senior consultant at The Greeley Company, a division of HCPro, Inc., in Marblehead, MA, was similarly impressed.

“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,” Courage says. “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 an infant’s life after discharge.”

Laurie Anderson, RN, MIS, manager of informatics at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua, earned an honorable mention in the category.

The judges wrote that Anderson is an “example of our image at its finest, demonstrating professional growth as an individual nurse, as well as ongoing mentoring through recognition of others. This nurse has demonstrated pivotal actions in a short period of time that have truly affected patient care within her organization.”

The second honorable mention went to Maribel Falzone, LPN, wound care certified quality first coordinator at Provena Pine View Care Center in St. Charles, IL.

Image of nursing in leadership

The second category recognizes the image of nursing in leadership. This category honors a nursing leader who embodies a positive image of nursing through his or her leadership excellence and has served as an inspiring leader, mentor, and role model to nurses as they strive to portray an image of professionalism in all they do, whether by overcoming significant challenges, spearheading change, or inspiring teamwork that resulted in achievement of operational goals and objectives.

Dianne Aroh, RN, MS, NEA-BC, CNO at Hackensack (NJ) University Medical Center was selected as the winner in this category. Aroh was recognized for her abilities as a transformational leader. Her colleagues who nominated her noted that under Aroh’s continued guidance, mentoring, coaching, listening, and visionary leadership, she transformed the organization into a culture of creativity that supports professional growth and conscious, deliberative, and contemplative risk taking.

Under Aroh’s guidance, the department of patient care developed a blueprint for nursing leadership that emphasized distributed responsibility, nonstop skill development, and hardwired accountability. In addition, she developed a management mentorship program to develop the next generation of nurse leaders. A strong advocate and champion for the empowerment of staff nurses, Aroh encourages all nurses to participate fully in decisions that affect their practice.

“As a nurse travels up the corporate ladder, leadership becomes more of a challenge than ever,” says judge Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, RC, MN, author, consultant, and speaker at the Excellence in Leadership. “What inspired me to pick this CNO as the winner is two things: Her success is documented by measurable outcomes and the following description is very unique and embraces the essence of what nursing needs to succeed: culture of creativity, supporting professional stretch, conscious, deliberative, and contemplative risk taking.”

Cohen noted similar attributes in the winner.

“Empowering nurses at the staff level not only promotes excellence in patient care, but role models excellence in leadership,” says Cohen. “What an inspiration this leader is. Her ability to transfer her vision to staff is highly commendable. This nurtured collaborative work force is the foundation for promoting the image of nursing today and tomorrow.”

Kathy Schuler, MS, RN, NE-BC, CNO at Winchester (MA) Hospital earned an honorable mention in this category. Schuler was nominated by the entire team of nursing directors at her hospital, which was noted by the judges.

“The very fact that the nursing directors came to- gether to nominate their leader speaks volumes in today’s hospital culture,” says Bartholomew. “The amount of risk taking required to defend nursing in these economic times speaks of her commitment and dedication. As a leader, her clear and passionate vision has resulted in hardwired improvements and earned respect beyond her hospital’s walls.”

A second honorable mention went to Debbie Pusateri, MSN, RN, assistant vice president nursing people officer/critical care services/education, at Florida Hospital in Orlando.