For more than a decade, Nurse.coms Nursing Excellence Awards program has recognized the extraordinary contributions Texas 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 five nurses in each of six categories, for a total of 30 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 dev
Vlasta Aubrecht, RN, BSN
Staff Nurse/Discharge Nurse/Charge Nurse
MD Anderson Cancer Center
For more than four decades Aubrecht, a native of the Czech Republic, has used savvy, instinct and creativity to improve the lives of patients she cares for. Among initiatives she’s spearheaded to advance quality of care for her patients are developing a discharge planning guide detailing expectations for rotating physicians; assembling a pamphlet for patients on post-discharge home care, which has resulted in continued increases in Press Ganey scores; and after identifying a trend in the anxiety levels of Arabic-speaking patients hospitalized for cancer — leading a quality improvement project resulting in the creation of a notebook filled with pictures and words in Arabic. One patient summed up Albrecht’s clinical dexterity: “She explained to my mother why she had to be responsible for her own healing and worked with ardor to keep her improving. She provided clear answers or found the right person with whom we could talk. I felt such a wonderful spirit of endurance and courage and benefitted from being in her presence.”
Angela C. Morgan, RN, MS, CCRN
Texas Children’s Hospital
When Morgan learns about something that might enhance the patient care experience she goes out of her way to institute it. For instance, when she learned about the concept of rapid response teams she took it upon herself to gain administrative and financial support to create positions and institute a team in her hospital. To help her young patients better manage the pain that accompanies their therapy, she joined the procedural pain leadership group. As part of this group she took it upon herself to conduct numerous literature reviews and helped devise a pain-management protocol, which is given to pediatric patients reported to vastly improve their hospital experience. Unlike many individuals whose involvement with a project ends when the project is complete, Morgan’s commitment doesn’t end — she stays invested to tweak, enhance and monitor long after completion. Within her personal practice, she regularly throws herself into chaotic situations with a push-your-sleeves-up, all-hands-on-deck mentality.
Alice Neycheril, ANP-C, DNP, CRRN
Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center
Caregiver, educator, innovator, leader, volunteer are all apt titles for Neycheril. Her interventions as a provider of physical rehabilitation oftentimes extend far beyond the scope of duty, placing her at the forefront of improving patient care. Two initiatives she’s undertaken that have produced markedly successful outcomes are developing of a Home Exercise Program Handout and encouraging patients to use durable medical equipment, such as the peddler or theraband, while they’re waiting for their appointed therapy time. As her hospital’s APN council chair Neycheril is able to disseminate her efforts to colleagues. Moreover, she’s shared her expertise on evidence-based practice and maintaining a balanced lifestyle through numerous podium presentations. Her endeavors to improve healthcare throughout her community play out in myriad volunteer activities. Among them are chairing the community’s health fair, Saturdays with Doctors Charity Clinic, hurricane relief and membership in several professional nursing associations.
Mindy Smart, RN-BC, BSN
Magnet Program Coordinator, Cardiac Cath Lab and Radiology Nurse
Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital
Cardiac care in Texas would not be what is it today if not for Smart’s efforts. In 2003 she helped build one of the first CT imaging centers in the state. She has set protocols and policies that have guided the development of other facilities; and she helped develop one of the initial CT Master’s courses aimed at educating physicians on patient care during CT imaging. Within her own facility, as both a departmental educator and clinical coach for new hires, her expertise on cath lab care has been spread to hundreds of colleagues. In 2009 Smart shared her expertise with thousands of providers across the nation through an article she wrote for Cath Lab Digest magazine. In addition to her professional achievements, Smart advances cardiac care through fundraising for the American Heart Association and by personal example — last year she completed the Dallas White Rock Marathon.
Tim Taylor, RN, BSN
Methodist Mansfield (Texas) Medical Center
Taylor’s quest to improve care for his patients is unceasing. Not only did he spearhead the development of an intervention to more closely monitor central lines that won national attention and resulted in a stretch of more than 425 days without a central line-associated blood stream infection, the care he provides to each of his patients is unwavering. Not long ago, upon noticing a very confused and frightened elderly man whose wife had died, he sat talking with him for hours until the man felt better. Later, Taylor walked the hospital parking lots to help the man look for his car. That attention to quality extends to his employees, whom he frequently asks for opinions, input and participation in projects to advance their skills. This commitment is evident in his department having the highest retention rate in the hospital.