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
Sandra DeJong, RN-BC, BSN
Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital
Before DeJong asks an employee to obtain a particular certification, she will go out and acquire it. It’s just one facet of a leadership philosophy that has garnered DeJong the reputation as someone who inspires and empowers by example. DeJong’s open-door policy and belief that a team that plays together stays together fosters an environment of cohesion wherein employees take individual initiative and share knowledge — key components in a ongoing effort to improve care. DeJong also involves her 14 team members in shared governance councils, which gives them a voice in decision-making. Involvement, she believes, is critical to her team’s success. That belief is evidenced not only by the fact that several team members have participated in research projects — and written about them for publication — but in the achievement of national certification of 13 team members. She is a catalyst for self-improvement to the lasting benefit of colleagues, clinicians and patients.
Lisa Greenbaum, RN, MSN, NEA-BC
Administrative Director and Service Line Leader, Women’s
Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center
When the going gets tough, the tough look to Greenbaum for leadership. Her humor, wit and clear headedness during the most challenging times — including the activation of disaster plans during Hurricane Ike and Tropical Storm Allison — have earned Greenbaum the reputation as a guiding light. Teams often rally around her because of her ability to go above and beyond her job expectations — she stretches herself to be the best of the best and others follow. This dedication to improve outcomes has created a culture of managerial development that affords her staff numerous opportunities to excel. Greenbaum’s dedication to improved quality has lead to facility achievements that include Magnet accreditation, the National Quality Forum Award for Safety, The Texas Medical Foundation Healthcare Quality Award for Heart Services, the Heathgrades Award for Clinical Excellence, the CHA Leadership Award for Clinical Excellence, and many more.
Sharon A. Land, RN, BSN, MBA, CNOR
Administrative Director, Perioperative Services
Harris County Hospital District
As someone charged with directing perioperative services in a system comprised of two public hospitals, each staffed by a separate medical school, Land understands the importance of streamlining. With different staff, unique cultures and diverse patient-bases, the facilities Land oversees have just as many differences as similarities. Yet, she was able to standardize purchasing and processes and has consistently improved quality outcomes. Her work has resulted in a 5% increase in surgeries and a reduction in surgery cancellations and late start surgeries. In addition, Land helped integrate an electronic system upgrade in both facilities to capture standardized nursing/patient statistical reports. Her vision for and implementation of integrated perioperative services for the hospitals and ability to negotiate with physicians has earned her the admiration and respect of her employees — not to mention garnered increased satisfaction among patients.
Karen McCarthy, RN, BSN, CCRN
Nurse Manager, Critical Care
The Medical Center of Plano (Texas)
Framed photographs of the nurses who’ve received special certification line the hallway of McCarthy’s unit. It’s a photo wall that, thanks to McCarthy’s sending of 10 employees to certification preparedness classes each year, continues to grow. It’s no surprise that McCarthy’s unit — with a 60% national certification rate and more than 50 bachelor’s educated nurses — boasts the highest certification rate in the hospital. Nor is it surprising that McCarthy herself has gone back to school to grow as a leader. Hand-in-hand with encouraging experienced nurses to pursue advanced certification are McCarthy’s efforts to attract highly qualified nurses to the unit through the administration of a critical care internship. By pairing new nurses with appropriate coaches, new hires can be assured successful integration into the unit. As a testament to McCarthy’s desire to foster an environment that encourages growth, her unit’s turnover rate is less than 5% — well below the national average.
Karla Ramberger, RN, BSN
Director of Emergency Services
Methodist Mansfield (Texas) Medical Center
Ramberger gets to work early each day to check in with night shift employees about the evening’s events. When the unit becomes swamped, she quickly jumps in to help. She gladly stepped up to help design a new electronic scheduling program, which has increased satisfaction and productivity. When technology advances or a new educational course becomes available, she leads the effort to learn and implement her knowledge into her unit. As a leader who participates on 26 hospital committees, she has motivated more than 90% of her staff to become committee members themselves. This motivation has inspired other hospital managers to promote and recommend their employees to serve on committees. Her ability to help others see beyond their current situation has resulted in 75% of her employees earning level 3 certification, several nurses earning excellence awards and her unit touting the hospital’s highest retention rate.