For more than a decade, Nurse.coms 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.coms 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 years 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.
Jennifer Combs, ARNP, MSN
Maternal Child Health Educator
Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies
Coalition of Broward Inc.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Jennifer Combs has a big commitment to the smallest patients. As a nurse in a level two NICU for the past 18 years at the same facility, Combs’ motto is, “It is all about the babies,” her nominator said. Her passion for saving babies has not waivered despite her own struggle to overcome a massive pulmonary embolism. Combs is implementing a safe sleep education program with nurses in Broward County’s eight hospitals and has created a public service announcement about infant mortality in the county, which airs on television. Combs is the co-chair of the facility’s patient-satisfaction committee, leader of the perinatal bereavement program, collector of monthly statistics and educator for her unit, earning her the nurse of the year award for her hospital. She also spreads her message in the community working on projects including the Black Infant Health Practice Initiative in Florida, the Fetal Infant Mortality Review and Best for Broward Babies.
Marie O. Etienne, ARNP, DNP, PLNC
Miami Dade College
Marie Etienne was one of the first nurses to reach Haiti after the massive earthquake in January 2010 and supervised the main pediatric hospital in the devastated capital of Port-au-Prince. Since that trip, she has returned several times to distribute thousands of pounds of medical supplies, hygiene products, toys and clothing. Her work to promote nursing in Haiti did not stop or start there.
Etienne was the president of the Haitian-American Nurses Association in her state and still leads its medical missions, along with serving for eight years as the president of the Haitian American Professionals Coalition that encompasses diverse groups from engineering to law enforcement. Etienne teaches by example. Along with her role as associate professor senior at Miami Dade College, she provides direct patient care once a week at a primary care clinic. She also encourages students at Miami Dade College to pursue community service, and many of them join her on their own time at optional volunteer activities.
Susan Krinsky, RN, CRRN
HealthSouth Sunrise Rehabilitation Hospital
The Spinal Cord Injury Support Group at Healthsouth Sunrise Rehabilitation Hospital had not been successful until Susan Krinsky became involved. Krinsky’s group began with two patients and has ballooned into more than 300 people and two chapters in other cities. Krinsky, who also cares for her husband and grandson who are disabled, takes her group’s members on activities including boating, skydiving and attending baseball games. She also started a successful wheelchair basketball team and golf tournament. Krinsky organizes fundraising events including car washes, bake sales and softball tournaments. Her passion extends to professional associations where she is a board member of the Broward Association of Rehabilitation Nurses, Florida Association of Rehabilitation Nurses, Association of Rehabilitation Nurses and Association of Spinal Cord Injury Nurses.
Krinsky’s future events include organizing a fashion show in which all of the models will use wheelchairs, as well as a cooking competition where group members will be paired with culinary students to prepare complete meals.