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Opinion: Carry On Nightingale's Legacy

Monday November 8, 2010
Eileen P. Williamson, RN
Eileen P. Williamson, RN
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Florence Nightingale once said, “When I am no longer even a memory, just a name, I hope my voice will perpetuate the great work of my life.” Thanks to the contributions of all the nurses who followed in her footsteps over the first century of the profession she founded, her voice is still heard and her work most certainly lives on.

Numbering today more than 15 million, they joined together this year to celebrate the International Year of the Nurse, marking 100 years since her passing and honoring her legacy. For all of us at Nursing Spectrum and NurseWeek it is humbling to be part of that legacy, and fitting that in concert with nurses worldwide we can publicly acknowledge what she began.

The year’s celebrations were made all the more meaningful for us by the nurses of excellence that you, our readers, introduced to us in our 2010 Nursing Excellence Awards program that culminated recently in the naming of six of them as the national winners. As you read about what made them winners, you will see they are everything Nightingale had in mind when she talked about nursing as a work that requires devotion and preparation, and the “finest of the fine arts.”

• Patricia Gerrity from Drexel University College of Nursing & Health Professionals in Philadelphia, winner in the Advancing and Leading the Profession category, has a joy and passion for improving the life and health of those she serves. She is a role model who devotes endless hours to speaking about service and writing about change, accepting nothing less than magnificent vision and innovation.

• Dorothy Beke, Clinical Care category winner from Children’s Hospital in Boston, exemplifies excellence in her holistic approach to family-centered care and patient advocacy. She has enormous influence on the setting of care standards and evaluation of processes for her patients and their families.

• Priscilla “Patti” Taylor, our winner in Community Service from UCLA School of Nursing in Los Angeles, began her nursing career in the Army Nurse Corps as an enlisted soldier, achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel after 18 years of service before retiring from the Army in 2002, and became a tireless volunteer who is said to “see a need in the community and fill it.”

• Jill Fargo from Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Calif., was named Management category winner for successfully leading her team in “hard wiring” innovations that resulted in improved patient safety, access to care and organizational excellence.

• Josephine Marcantonio from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York, is the winner in the Mentoring category for being an exceptional role model, mentor and motivator, and for having a tireless and infectious enthusiasm for encouraging staff in their careers.

• Theresa Pape from Texas Woman’s University College of Nursing in Denton became the 2010 national winner in the Teaching category for her nationally renowned and pioneering work in educating on the safe administration of medications.


Eileen P. Williamson, RN, MSN, is senior vice president of Nursing Communications & Initiatives. Send letters to editorNTL@gannetthg.com or comment below.