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2011 Nursing Excellence Finalists - Florida - Clinical Care

Monday August 8, 2011
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For more than a decade, Nurse.com’s Nursing Excellence Awards program has recognized the extraordinary contributions Florida nurses make to their patients, each other and the profession. This year, nurses from the region came forward to tell us about the unsung heroes of nursing — RNs who make a difference in the profession every single day.

The grateful peers of these exceptional nursing professionals sent detailed nominations for Nurse.com’s 2011 Nursing Excellence Awards. The nominees include staff nurses, specialists, nurse practitioners, vice presidents and nurse executives, and work in settings as disparate as occupational health, education, intensive care, cardiology, med/surg and pediatrics. No matter what the role or setting, these nurses have found ways to raise the bar for their peers and the quality of life of their patients.
Nurse.com hopes their stories will inspire all of our readers to reach for excellence.
From the many tributes we received for this year’s program, we narrowed the competition down to three nurses in each of six categories, for a total of 18 finalists.

Advancing and Leading the Profession: RNs who have made contributions that advanced and strengthened the nursing profession or the delivery of patient care. These nurses have made broadreaching contributions that affect the entire profession rather than a single organization.

Clinical Care: RNs who demonstrate excellence in direct-care delivery in any clinical setting. This category celebrates nurses who work directly with patients and their families.

Community Service: RNs who have made significant professional or voluntary contributions that improved patient care. These nurses have helped their community either as part of their jobs or as volunteers.

Management: RNs who have demonstrated exceptional management of nursing or patient-care services in any setting. This category honors managers who have a talent for developing successful employees and systems.

Mentoring: RNs who provide a positive professional influence, guidance and support of other nurses in any setting. These nurses have cultivated relationships that foster the development of their nurse colleagues.

Teaching: RNs who have made significant contributions in education, professional development and/or long-term learning of nursing professionals.

The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future

The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future
is the national sponsor of the 2011 Nurse.com’s Nursing Excellence Awards. The campaign brings attention to the severe shortage of faculty in our nation’s nursing schools. The company offers a faculty scholarship fund to help qualified RNs obtain the advanced education they need to transition into teaching.

Nurse.com supports the campaign’s efforts by donating $5,000 to the campaign’s faculty scholarship fund, which is administered by the Foundation of the National Student Nurses’ Association. The donation is made in the name of the national winner in the Nursing Excellence Awards’ teaching category.



Marissa Balme, RN
Clinical Care

Marissa Balme, RN, BSN, PCCN
Critical Care Nurse, Relief Charge Nurse
Florida Hospital Orlando


Marissa Balme's "bubbly and enthusiastic" personality has given new meaning to making someone's jaw drop. Balme's nominator tells the story of one patient who had become depressed while battling multisystem failure secondary to end-stage cardiomyopathy but would have such a big smile on his face when Balme came into the room "that his teeth nearly fell out!" With another patient, Balme recognized his condition deteriorating rapidly and encouraged out-of-state family to come to the hospital. Though she had cared for the patient a short time, Balme had left such an impression that the family asked her to be present when the patient passed away. Balme, who has been a nurse just three years, is able to recognize the ultimate needs of the patient and family and "make those last moments meaningful," the nominator writes.

Balme also is appreciated by staff and nursing students. Students repeatedly request to work with her because they have fun while learning.


Victoria L. Franciscus, RN
Victoria L. Franciscus, RN
Staff nurse
Delray Medical Center
Delray Beach, Fla.


Victoria Franciscus is the epitome of a compassionate and caring nurse. When a patient who was not coping well emotionally with a difficult and painful arm injury stayed at the hospital nearly two months, Franciscus became his nurse, encouraged him, was patient with him during difficult times and coached other staff on how to support him. Upon his discharge, he nominated her for a Daisy nursing excellence award. During her two-and-a-half-year tenure at Delray Medical Center, she has received the most Daisy award nominations from patients and families than any other nurse. Franciscus also created a bulletin board in the unit's hallway and hangs positive notes from patients and families along with pictures of patient success stories. Staff and visitors frequently stop, and patient satisfaction scores on the unit have increased since she has worked at the hospital.

Franciscus has devoted her life to humanitarian causes, including starting a church-based school for children in Thailand and being a mother to seven children, some of whom are adopted.


Lou Etta Hicks, ARNP
Lou Etta Hicks, ARNP, MSN, GNP-BC
Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner
Bay Pines (Fla.) VA Healthcare System


Sometimes caring for a patient requires dealing with bureaucracy to get what he or she needs. Lou Etta Hicks stepped in when an assisted-living facility planned to discharge a patient who suffered from dementia. The patient had become familiar and comfortable with the staff, so moving him would have caused emotional and physical suffering. She worked with the facility's administrator so he could stay for his remaining days instead of being discharged inappropriately. Hicks' care for elderly patients has spread through several published works as well. One article titled "Depression and Suicide Risks in Older Adults: A Case Study," published in Home Healthcare Nurse in 2009, has become a teaching tool in hospitals to recognize suicidal behavior in elderly patients. A poster she created called "The Use of Medication Boxes with Elderly Veterans" was presented at the Seventh Annual Florida Magnet Nursing Research Conference and is housed at the Virginia Henderson International Nursing Library of Sigma Theta Tau International.


Compiled by Karen Long. Post a comment below or e-mail editorSouth@nurse.com.