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Nurse.com announces California GEM Awards finalists

Monday August 5, 2013
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Advancing and Leading the Profession

Debra Grant, RN, BSN, MBA, NEA-BC
CNO, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, Los Angeles


As nurse executive, Grant’s passion to elevate the practice and profession of nursing has resulted in numerous commendations for her facility from quality agencies. She is responsible for establishing open lines of communication with about 1,000 nurses plus ancillary staff. She demonstrates and provides leadership to these groups and provides the nursing vision and mission despite changes and challenges in healthcare. She transformed and empowered the frontline leadership to be CEOs of their own units by actively recruiting assistant nurse managers to run the leadership and operational needs of every unit. She also initiated leadership training and staff development that encompassed organizational values. Nominators say Grant daily displays the commitment, passion, dedication and energy to tackle the complex needs of the organization. These qualities ensure that care is delivered safely, excellent service is provided to all, and nursing staff are able to perform their jobs efficiently as a team.

Grace Ibe, RN, MSN, BSN
Senior director, service excellence and cultural development, Dignity Health, Oxnard, Calif.


Ibe is considered the driving force behind the hospital’s efforts to optimize the overall patient experience and transition three related institutions into Healing Hospitals. She is charged with improving the overall patient experience and fostering a systemwide culture of loving, compassionate patient- and family-centered care and has accomplished these tasks with multiple successful initiatives. She has improved rounding, improved MD/RN collaboration and reduced labor and costs while keeping patient satisfaction high. Her efforts resulted in improvement of HCAHPA scores for communication with doctors from 69.92 to 80.86 within 13 months. Ibe empowers staff to identify and resolve problems via a collaborative approach and promoted a shift in thinking from serving patients and families to partnering with them. Overall her ingenuity has resulted in vastly improved patient satisfaction scores. From admittance to post-discharge, Ibe has transformed the patient experience and elevated nursing performance. She is considered a cheerleader, role model and advocate.

Adeline M. Nyamathi, RN, ANP, PhD, FAAN
Distinguished professor, UCLA School of Nursing, Los Angeles


Nyamathi inspires students, nurses and colleagues domestically and internationally. She is the first in UCLA’s School of Nursing’s history to obtain a Distinguished Professor title. She believes the teaching-learning process is dynamic; in the classroom, she provides insightful and timely remarks while challenging students to reach new heights of scholarly work. Nyamathi’s passion for equity and justice is evident in her research. Her collaborative research initiatives in India focus on a lay-health worker model to deliver multidisciplinary intervention to improve the quality of life for women in rural enclaves. Nyamathi's investigative work has resulted in more than 155 articles in 100 journals and she has been a member/chair of more than 30 dissertation committees. Additionally, she has been principal investigator of eight NIH-funded R0Is. Nyamathi fosters a collaborative cross-cultural learning bridge through an international exchange, fueling students’ and nurses’ professional growth.


Kathy R. Topp, RN-BC, BSN, MSM
Director, education, clinical informatics and staffing, Tri-City Medical Center, Oceanside, Calif.


Tasked with developing strong infrastructures for hospital departments to support strategic educational and clinical operational initiatives, Topp is noted as a dynamic, hardworking and compassionate nursing director. She oversees implementation of a hospitalwide electronic policy and procedure system to improve access to all hospital and departmental policies and is responsible for all clinical affiliation rotations. She implemented an online learning management system for 2,400 employees, with 70 modules that resulted in over 99% compliance with annual competency requirements. She has used cost-effective informatics solutions to hardwire various quality initiatives. including core measures. Excelling at organizing, Topp developed and implemented a two-year RN residency mentorship program, which improved RN new grad retention. Her exemplary performance encourages staff to work collaboratively. She encourages input from all managers and directors and inspires excellent customer service, ensuring that patients and family are satisfied with their stay.

Laura Vento, RN, MSN, CNL
Assistant nurse manager of med/surg, UC San Diego (Calif.) Health System


Vento is tireless in her efforts to engage frontline staff in evidence-based practice and bring new knowledge from peer-reviewed journals into everyday nursing practice. She collaborated with the UCSD nursing research liaison and librarian to ignite the spirit of inquiry among practice council nurses. Over a two-year period, nurses’ confidence in applying evidence-based practice to their daily work markedly increased. In the Patient-Centered Bedside Report initiative, Vento led, coached and implemented a program that improved patient satisfaction scores, decreased premium overtime, and identified multiple patient safety issues. Her coaching has encouraged project managers to continue to grow professionally. Vento also has been project leader in creating a program using mobile video monitoring as a more cost-effective alternative to the use of sitters, reducing sitter usage by 70%.

Clinical Nursing, Inpatient

Cynthia Douglas-Ybarra, RN, BSN, PCCN, CCRN
ICU staff nurse, VA Medical Center, Los Angeles


As a veteran herself, Douglas-Ybarra connects at a special level with her patients in the combined ICU at the West Los Angeles VA. Co-workers are impressed with her excellence of care and her respect for the profession, as well as her support of fellow nurses. She is unafraid to speak up when she realizes patient care improvements are needed. Douglas-Ybarra has proven her capability as part of a pilot project in which RNs learn to help open-heart surgery patients recover when they come out of the OR. She serves on the Nurse Professional Standards Board, and is the current chair for the section-based shared governance committee for the ICU, ED and PCU. Douglas-Ybarra has taught nurses and CNAs computer skills and serves as a superuser and resource for two of the electronic medical records systems at her facility. She has developed and implemented traumatic brain injury training for more than 200 RNs, physicians and allied professionals.

Geri H. Gregorczyk, RN, BSN
Registered nurse, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles


Gregorczyk’s primary responsibility is the transport of critically ill children from community hospitals to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She is an expert clinician who provides superior care to each patient, maintaining competency in providing mobile intensive care to patients, from newborns to adults. In addition to clinical duties, she precepts every new transport team member and is involved in quality improvement projects for the department. Gregorczyk chairs the Patient Care Services Clinical Practice Council and serves on the Patient Care Services Administrative Council, which supervises the activities of the collaborative governance structure. She was instrumental in developing an annual evaluation and peer-review process for all of Patient Care Services. Colleagues commend her patient care, saying she spends extra time with parents, educating and reassuring them in their most stressful moments as they worry about their critically ill children. Her nursing care is a model for holistic, family-centered care.

Katherine Madsen, RN, MSN, CNS, ANP, ACHPN
Palliative care coordinator and nurse practitioner, Memorial Medical Center, Modesto, Calif.


Since undertaking the development of the palliative care program at her facility, Madsen has continued to provide superior care and leadership within the program. She serves as role model, preceptor, mentor and facilitator of learning in palliative care nursing and works closely with hospice, nursing, pharmacy, physicians, social services, chaplains, home health and other Central Valley Region hospitals. Madsen developed evidence-based practice standards, protocols and policies that enhance performance goals and improve her own practice. Her responsibilities include the development and evaluation of strategies to enhance patients’ quality of life through symptom management. She advocates for patient and family rights, particularly with regard to end-of-life decisionmaking. She has been able to create a climate of trust and partnership with patients, families and members of the interdisciplinary care team. Additionally, Madsen is commended for being able to receive feedback, allowing her to flourish as a nurse.



Darcie A. Peterson, RN, MSN, ANP-BC, CWOCN-AP
Enterostomal therapist, St. Joseph Hospital, Orange, Calif.


Peterson cares for inpatients with the most severe wounds, pressure ulcers and ostomies at her facility and a neighboring hospital. She also is responsible for patient follow up in her outpatient clinic. Peterson provides the highest degree of patient care while mentoring those around her through the use of exemplary professional practice and through servant leadership. She continually seeks to improve her skills, recently passing the advanced placement certification exam for the CWOCN-AP, becoming one of 40 nurses in the nation with this certification. Co-workers look to Peterson for her collaborative efforts in reducing hospital-acquired pressure ulcers. Through her and others’ work, hospital-acquired pressure ulcers were reduced from 14 to two within a year. She collaborates with other departments to prevent skin issues, sharing her knowledge whenever possible. Peterson has published in specialty journals and presented to cancer support groups, but thrives best when she is teaching and caring for patients.

Dahlia Dorado Tayag, RN, MSN, CCRN
Clinical nurse III, UC San Diego Health System, San Diego


As charge nurse of a 13-bed PACU, Tayag is seen as an important reminder that patient care is about the people first: their whole being, life, lifestyle and life circumstances. She is actively involved in developing continuing education programs for RNs, both at the state and national levels and is currently the chair of the Professional Development Council. Tayag developed the new employee orientation manual for PACU RNs for her own unit and those of two other facilities. She singlehandedly developed educational programs and unit competencies for PACU staff, RNs and CCPs. Tayag also contributed significantly in the development of safe practice guidelines and protocols that met CMS criteria in the procedures performed in PACU. Colleagues also see her as a technology resource. She has participated actively in the development of EPIC workflows for all the units and is a superuser and resource RN.

Education and Mentorship

Kathleen Adlard, RN, MN, CNS, CPON
Clinical nurse specialist, oncology, CHOC Children’s Hospital, Orange, Calif.


Adlard is considered a pediatric oncology expert at the national level and is responsible for quality of care at the CHOC Hyundai Cancer Institute, overseeing 100 RNs. She is known for establishing a vision for nursing, role modeling desired behaviors, inspiring others to act, and providing support and guidance to those around her. She expertly cares for pediatric oncology patients and mentors others who do so. Nurses see her as a trusted advisor and leader who encourages their involvement in research, evidence-based practice, publishing and speaking. Colleagues say she daily empowers people, assisting many to achieve new levels of certification. Adlard is coordinator for the Nursing Research Fellowship and Evidence-based Practice Scholars programs, and chair of the Nursing Research and Innovation Council. She has been instrumental in establishing the infrastructure necessary to develop, support and expand nursing research and EBP. She has contributed to pediatric nursing texts and written multiple handbooks for families.

Deniese Foggiano, RN-BC, MSN, CCRN
Senior nursing specialist, Sharp Grossmont Hospital, La Mesa, Calif.


Foggiano is responsible for education and annual competencies for 86 RNs and 10 Healthcare Practitioners in the MICU. She monitors outcomes such as hospital-acquired infections and pressure ulcers, glucose control and employee injuries for failure points and opportunities to improve, and is a contributing instructor for classes in the system and critical care departments. Foggiano is known for taking an innovative and creative approach to improving patient care and nursing involvement and knowledge. For example, her efforts in quality improvement resulted in better compliance with stroke core measures. She is a Beacon Award reviewer for the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and promotes certification and involvement in the national organization. Five nurses received their certification in one year through her efforts. Her annual competency training improved multiple areas in MICU care. Co-workers say she has ignited enthusiasm and passion in nurses. She is a wealth of knowledge, which she eagerly shares, and is a driving force behind the MICU.

Flora B. Haus, RN-BC, MSN, NEA-BC
Education program coordinator, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles


A champion of change and one who provides opportunities and resources is how many view Haus, who is responsible for high-quality education, information and support to 2,400 inpatient nurses. Haus implemented an organizationwide program to improve care for geriatric patients, significantly increasing nurses’ knowledge of geriatric patient care. She is a member of the nursing research and development team, responsible for promoting high-quality patient care by assuring competent and appropriate nursing care. Haus also is a clinical instructor and faculty for Western Governors University and the UCLA Masters Entry Clinical Nurse program. She assisted with developing curriculum for the Rising Stars leadership development program. She leads successful educational programs on reducing patient falls and the use of restraints, as well as teaching patient safety workshops, advanced cardiac life support and basic life support. Throughout the organization, she is known as an excellent teacher who gives hands-on support and a problem solver who can think on her feet.

Vivian Norman, RN, MSN, CCRN
Critical care educator, St. Joseph Hospital, Orange, Calif.


Norman impacts nursing with an array of visionary efforts as clinical educator for critical care, medical telemetry, cardiac renal and the decision support units. She works collaboratively in creating policies and processes that promote perfect care and functions as a mentor to staff, with specific strategies to develop personnel. She provides guidance to the nursing research council to promote research projects and is facilitator for the nursing leadership development program. Norman engages nurse executive directors to serve as coaches to mentor each student; more than 40 nurses have completed this program. Norman coordinates employee training from orientation to competency assessments and in-services, designing and implementing educational programs including live presentations, self-learning and Web-based courses. In working with staff to establish AACN new chapters, Norman exemplifies exceptional communication skills and assists with conflict resolution and problem-solving skills. An outside-the-box thinker, she is not scared to move forward with ideas.

Mary M. Winter, RN, MA, MSN, NE-BC
Director, national education and professional development, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Calif.


Winter has put mentoring and developing nurses front and center in all her work. She is responsible for setting strategy for nurse professional development specialists who oversee the education of more than 49,000 nurses in nine states and Washington, D.C. Her aim is to educate and advance professional, clinically excellent and compassionate nurses who make patients and their families the focus of everything they do. She also strives to develop the leadership skills of nurses from the executive level to the frontline. Winter has elevated the role of the nurse educator/professional development specialist at Kaiser. She has led her team in developing a national professional development strategy that promotes the critical role of the nurse educator within the system. She was instrumental in introducing a healthcare-specific learning management system, bringing hundreds of e-learning opportunities to nurses. Winter is seen as a natural coach and supporter who cares deeply for the nursing profession.

Home Community and Ambulatory Care

Ava Marie Chavez, RN WCC
Senior comprehensive care RN, Orange County Health Care Agency, Correctional Health Services, Santa Ana, Calif.


Chavez has completely changed the face of wound care in the Orange County jail system by creating the first correctional health services wound-care team. Wound healing time has decreased significantly as a result. Chavez’s leadership role in the jail system puts her in charge of daily nursing operations, overseeing five facilities housing up to 7,000 men and women. She’s a liaison between providers, psychiatrists, mental health clinicians, support services and the sheriff’s department. Chavez’s leadership at the women’s jail facility brought improved work output and communication. She also volunteered to introduce the Situation Background Assessment Recommendation method of communication to staff, with positive results. Co-workers say she is upbeat and encouraging and handles daily challenges with humor and a positive attitude. Chavez speaks at local high schools and women’s groups to promote leading by example and getting through life’s misfortunes without becoming a victim.

Christina Izumi Cruso, RN, BSN, CPON
Hematology/oncology clinical nurse III, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles


A strong leader in the outpatient hematology/oncology clinic and day hospital, Cruso helps care for pediatric and young adult patients with blood transfusions, chemotherapy, IV infusions and special procedures. She is a well-respected leader, a quick thinker and problem solver who rotates as charge nurse, phone triage nurse and a reliable resource to colleagues. She jumps in to assist when a patient is having an emergency and often suggests effective interventions that may be overlooked. Recently, Cruso was involved in drafting and implementing a sick call policy for the outpatient infusion center to remedy unplanned staffing shortages. This nurse also is captain of the CHLA triathlon team, raising money for cancer research. She volunteers for Dream Street, a camp for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses, and volunteers to select patients and accompany them to the annual the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards.

Sandra J. Mintz, RN, BSN
Nurse care manager, Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles


Mintz exemplifies the true future role of ambulatory nursing in the healthcare continuum. She is the clinician, educator, coordinator, counselor and patient advocate, managing more than 1,000 children through age 21. She addresses the healthcare needs of pediatric rheumatology patients by creating and developing protocols, researching outcomes and coordinating the care. A clinical expert in pediatric rheumatology, she collaborated with other divisions to develop chemotherapeutic and biologic infusion protocols and is a sought-after speaker, giving more than 21 presentations locally, nationally and internationally. Mintz is a leader in the care managers group; she facilitates programs in the hospital that address the transition to adult care and created an opportunity to develop leadership and modeling collaborative work between University of Southern California’s Rheumatology Division and Children’s Hospital. She impacts the outcomes for children with rheumatic disease through her support groups and published articles on the topic.

Cynthia Szold, RN, IBCLC
Supervisor, lactation services, Sharp Grossmont Hospital, La Mesa, Calif.


Szold is passionate about ensuring that mothers and babies receive the best care in an environment where breastfeeding is promoted and supported. She leads a team of eight international board-certified lactation consultants and works in collaboration with sister hospitals on lactation policies and procedures. She helped start a breastfeeding support group offered to breastfeeding mothers in the community and developed an employee lactation room to meet the needs of hospital employees. She co-chairs the breastfeeding taskforce and performs monthly audits. Each year Szold offers classes to all of the staff in the WC Departments. She also oversees new hire orientation and is always willing to mentor new students and staff. She helped revise the lactation orientation manual this year. She supports staff’s professional growth in lactation by encouraging them to further their education; last year, two WC staff received scholarships to attend the University of California at San Diego lactation program due to Szold’s support.

Callie Wight, RN, MA
Women’s veteran program manager, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles


Considered a tireless worker who has compassion for women veterans, Wight works at Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center as program manager, sexual trauma coordinator for greater L.A. and region, and serves as women’s health psychosocial counselor. After pioneering the preconception health program for the VA, she wrote the content for a provider-facing mobile application on pre-conception and pre-natal health, which the facility will promote nationally. Wight is assisting providers to learn culturally sensitive approaches and content related to women’s healthcare, and coordinated three mini residencies in women’s health, which were attended by 20-to-30 physicians. She coordinates interprofessional mini-residencies for physicians and nurses. Wight recently coordinated submission of four grant applications for various women’s health programs. She does strategic planning and has developed new programs for maternity care coordination and preconception care. Through her efforts, the reputation of the VHA system has vastly improved for women’s healthcare.

Patient and Staff Management

Mara Collins, RNC-NIC, MSN
Nurse manager, neonatal intensive care, Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, Mission Hills, Calif.


Regular commendations for excellence of care are the fruit of Collins’ work as manager for the neonatal ICU and its 50 staff. Upon starting the role, she did a comprehensive assessment of the NICU, identified problem areas and worked closely with staff to improve policies and procedures as well as provide education and training. She has transformed a unit that was in disarray to a highly functioning department. Her success in managing and leading staff is demonstrated by staff satisfaction survey scores on the NDNQI NICU Practice Environment Scale. Collins exhibits excellence in everything she does, from implementing a new acuity system and computer documentation system to reviewing and rewriting policies and educating staff and improving staff competencies. Colleagues note that Collins ensures patients and families get the best care possible. They say she is dependable, available and timely in her management. She is passionate about integrity, precision and professional practice.

Linaflor Molina-Lapid RN, MSN, CPAN
Clinical nurse educator, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles


Molina-Lapid shows deep commitment to her facility and its mission as a perioperative educator for the OR/anesthesia/surgery services. She is responsible for the education of 400 perioperative nursing staff. She has been a strong advocate for clinical process improvement through evidence-based practice, launching a successful fast track/bypass PACU program, which decreased outpatients’ length of stay postsedation/anesthesia. A strong champion of patient and family advocacy, she developed a patient education leaflet on what to expect while waiting for surgery. This information helped decrease anxiety in patients and families and decreased calls to the preop areas. A member of the Quality Council for Pain Management, she revised the pain scale appropriate for use in the PACUs and collaborated with the clinical nurse specialist and Child Life Services to improve pain management in pediatrics. Molina-Lapid also launched a formal mentor program for the service line and implemented the PACU training program for new hires.

Colleen Marie Murphy, RN, MSN, NE-BC
Manager, administrative support services, Sharp Grossmont Hospital, La Mesa, Calif.


Co-workers say Murphy is an excellent administrative liaison. She is proactive, remains calm under pressure and is able to defuse difficult patient and visitor situations. Murphy manages the nursing administrative support services department, consisting of the administrative liaisons, staffing office, lift team and float pool. A key accomplishment has been the development and implementation of a Sharp HealthCare Decedent Affairs Office geared to meet new state requirements. She has been involved in the throughput initiative to decrease time between emergency room admission and bed placement. Murphy’s heart has no boundaries. She always has room for one more person who is disadvantaged, one more event to volunteer for, one more student to take under her wing. She touches the lives of patients, physicians, staff and co-workers by being a strong mentor, colleague and role model for the patient-centered experience.

Glenn D. Pascual, RN, DHSc, MSN, OCN
KPH director of inpatient care service/department administrator 4West Telemetry/Observation, Kaiser Permanente, Woodland Hills, Calif.


Patient satisfaction scores are consistently at the 99th-to 100th percentile due largely to Pascual’s efforts in strategic change implementation, leadership team development, service program innovation and initiatives associated with culture change. He also assesses professional and clinical development/education needs of nursing staff and conducts research into professional and community practice standards, technology and clinical innovations for improved service. His personality and charisma with patients is amazing, say colleagues. A naturally people-skilled leader, his dominance in hospital service and nursing management garnered him a total of 23 state and national awards in a span of five years. In the community, Pascual is involved with programs to assist the homeless. He pioneered the "Thrive, Don’t Dive" campaign, and "Exercise and Fitness Quest to Stay the Best" program that adopted routine counseling and encouragement for physical activity, improving outcomes of geriatric cardiac patients. He advocates for nursing, enticing co-workers to make the difference in this world.

Jacci Sterling, RNC
Perinatal director, CNO, Sutter Maternity and Surgery Center, Santa Cruz, Calif.


Sterling is both perinatal director and CNO of a low-risk birthing center where she inspires and encourages innovation and a high level of professionalism. She brings out the best in staff while having patients’ best interest in mind. Sterling’s carefully researched and highly effective staff training and open communication with RNs and MDs has resulted in a lower-than-average cesarean section rate while caring for VBAC patients. Staff retention is credited to Sterling’s management and work ethic in which each staff member feels valued. Her efforts resulted in the first lactation center in the area as well as designation as a Baby Friendly hospital. The facility was named in the Top 100 Best Places to Work in Healthcare for three years. Auditors recently stated how impressed they were with the family-centered care and diligence of staff in supporting mothers and babies in the breastfeeding process.

Volunteerism and Service

Salpy Akaragian, RN-BC, MN
Director, international and nurse credentialing, UCLA Health, Los Angeles


As director of the international nursing program, the nominee has hosted visitors from more than 20 countries, coordinating education and training experiences for some 3,000 international visitors. Akaragian also is responsible for the credentialing of the health system’s 160 nurse practitioners. Her efforts have resulted in implementation of area children’s healthcare screening programs, provided by professional volunteers. The former First Lady of Armenia asked Akaragian to establish the first baccalaureate nursing program in Armenia which she accomplished with the help of multiple organizations and individuals. More than 400 nurses have graduated and are now nursing leaders in that country. Akaragian has had roles in multiple healthcare initiatives in Armenia as well as coordinating visits from Japanese healthcare and nursing leaders to observe American nursing practice and how nurses can impact patient care. Her vision and passion have impacted nurses and nurse leaders worldwide.

Michelle Dang, RN, PhD
Assistant professor, California State University, Sacramento (Calif.)


A tireless worker and advocate for vulnerable populations, Dang is the lead faculty for community health nursing at Sacramento State, responsible for community placements for traditional and RN-to-BSN students. She has created more than 15 partnerships with agencies that permit students to gain experience and serve the community. Dang has served as a volunteer nurse for Wind Youth Services, a community-based agency for homeless youth, where she has spent countless hours providing health assessments and triage, first aid, confidential health counseling and education, and insurance applications. She partnered with the Vaccines for Children program to obtain free vaccines and helped implement Healthshack, the first known health record system specifically for homeless youth. A new board member for My Sister’s House, Dang has participated in several fundraising events to support services for domestic violence survivors. Her volunteerism exemplifies the meaning of giving back. Her work has made a significant difference in the community.

Anna Dermenchyan, RN, BSN, CCRN-CSC
Clinical nurse III, UCLA Health System. Los Angeles


Dermenchyan sees herself as a practitioner, scientist and leader who transfers knowledge to individuals, groups and communities. She is a primary bedside nurse, charge and resource nurse, preceptor for new grads, co-chair of the performance improvement committee and member of the unit practice council. She started the first hospital-based American Nurses Credentialing Center chapter at UCLA to support her passion to improve critical care nursing. She participates in the chapter’s volunteer activities: career fairs, feeding the homeless, participating in food and clothing drives for a homeless youth center and networking/mentoring sessions for nursing students. Dermenchyan also mentors youth through the Armenian General Benevolent Union Mentorship program, and served as a PICU recovery room nurse in Ecuador with Mending Kids International. Her passion for patient safety, nursing and service prompt her participation in advocacy groups such as the RN Lobby Day with the American Nurses Association in Sacramento, Nurse in Washington Internship, and American Nurses Advocacy Institute.

Ruth N. Grendell, RN, DNSc
Faculty, author, University of Phoenix, San Diego


Seen as a humble servant leader whose nursing career spans the globe, Grendell’s teaching instills in students the great possibilities to change the health of the world’s communities. Grendell has conducted 25 short-term healthcare mission trips to various countries, preparing educational materials and serving as a guest lecturer. Students accompany her on these trips, where they participated in mass-immunization clinics in South Africa and heard her lecture in the Atheneum University in Bucharest. She also has served on Navajo reservations, in the Dominican Republic, southern Mexico, Costa Rica and India. Grendell contributes to faculty development by providing STTI updates and attending national and international STTI events. Grendell was the recipient of the campus Distinguished Faculty of the Year Award in 2012 based upon student feedback, which indicated she inspired them toward excellence in nursing. Her vast worldly experiences, humanitarian efforts and nursing instruction have inspired many students and impacted the health of multiple communities.

Amada Zamudio, RN, BSN, MSN, CNE
Registered nurse, White Memorial Medical Center, Los Angeles


Zamudio is an advocate for patient/family education who goes beyond hospital walls into the community, giving health lectures and increasing health awareness for the public. Her diligent and consistent participation includes outreach to the Dolores Mission, feeding of the homeless, toy distribution at Christmas, and Por Tu Corazon events to health fairs for seniors. Zamudio is a vital part of the House of Ruth outreach program, where she involved nursing leadership and physicians to provide health lectures to battered women, storytelling for kids, and donations of clothes and hygiene items to residents. She led the recent holiday adopt-a-family gift distribution, in which nursing units shopped and wrapped gifts for their adopted families. Her passion and energy for the needy results in a life-changing impact to the community and a voiced contentment felt by the facility’s employees who participate under Zamudio’s leadership.

To view photos of the finalists, visit www.Nurse.com/Gallery/CA-GEM-2013.


Karen Schmidt, RN, is a freelance writer. Send comments to editorWest@nurse.com