Nurses' Week 2010 Awards and Recognition Recipients

Vanderbilt Medical Center celebrated Nurses' Week 2010 with our annual Nursing Awards & Recognition Event.  Congratulations to all our nominees!  

Below are the recipients of the Nurses' Week 2010 Awards and Recognitions

Spirit of Nursing Award
Elliott Douglass, BSN, RN, WOCN
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt

 What is the essence or heart of nursing at Vanderbilt?  Several moving and inspirational pieces were submitted, but the nursing council selected a poem, submitted by Elliott Douglass, RN, the wound ostomy and continence nurse at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.  Douglass, who spent most of her 13 years in nursing working with adult patients at Vanderbilt University Hospital, says coming to work at Children’s Hospital three years ago brought her love of nursing full-circle. It is a life-long passion that began at the age of 3, when she developed epiglottitis and nearly suffocated.  She says James O’Neill, M.D., then chairman of Surgery in Pediatrics, saved her life, and her experience in the critical care unit at Children’s left a deep impression on her.  Poetry has been another passion for Douglass.  “In high school, the boys would ask me to write poems they could use to give to their girlfriends,” Elliott says with a laugh.  Her love of poetry and nursing blend nicely in the winning essay for the Children’s Hospital “Spirit of Nursing” contest.

left to right: Marilyn Dubree, Jan Malone, Vicki JonesThe Rebecca Clark Culpepper Award
Jan Malone, BSN, RN
Interim Nurse Educator/Charge Nurse
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt

The Rebecca Clark Culpepper award is given jointly by Vanderbilt School of Nursing and Vanderbilt University Medical Center Nursing to honor Becky’s many contributions to both areas.  The recipient can be a nurse at VUMC or faculty at VUSN.  The recipient of this award exhibits mentorship of fellow nursing staff, faculty or students and actively promotes of the nursing profession.  There is a commitment to professional development at all levels.

In December 2009, Jan accepted the Interim Nurse Educator position for the Pediatric Surgery and Adolescent Unit.  Jan had agreed to support the unit in this role as temporary position while the regular Educator is out on maternity leave.  During her short time in this role, she has been active in attending clinical practice and policy meetings.  She actively seeks out evidence based research, collaborates with the management team, and seeks staff input to support her recommendations.  In addition to this new role, Jan is an active member in the Society of Pediatric Nursing and has recruited many new members into the organization.  Recently, Jan was confirmed as the new Vice President for the Middle Tennessee Chapter of Pediatric Nursing.  She attended the National Society Pediatric Nursing Conference in Orlando, Florida this May.
In her Interim Nurse Educator role, Jan assigns preceptors to orient new staff, pediatric nurse residents, and nursing practicum students and also coaches and mentors the preceptors and helps them individualize plans to meet the needs of the new staff members and students.
Jan encompasses the true spirit of nursing through her passionate commitment to elevate the nursing profession and her commitment to her colleagues. This is demonstrated through her quest to engage others to join nursing organizations and seek continuing education opportunities that advance nursing practice and organizational standards.

 Vanderbilt School of Nursing Faculty Award
Clare Thomson-Smith, JD, MSN, RN, FAANP
Assistant Professor of Nursing
Center for Advanced Practice Nursing and Allied Health

This award is given to the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing faculty (nurse or non-nurse) who has made the greatest contribution to the field of nursing. 

Clare Thomson-Smith serves as a role model, advocate and a mentor at the School of Nursing, the Medical Center, and the Tennessee Nurses Association.  She contributes to the academic mission of the school by facilitating courses for the much-in-demand Health Systems Management program of study – teaching students from around the country who are or will become nurse administrators and leaders for health systems throughout the country.  As director of CAPNAH which is dedicated to supporting existing and emerging practices, she and her team have made significant strides in mentoring advanced practice nurses and allied health professionals into the profession and the VUMC culture with a robust array of activities and professional development opportunities.
She has used her J.D. degree to become an advocate for policy development related to advanced practice nursing.  She serves as chair of government affairs and health policy committee for the Tennessee Nurses Association and can navigate the often challenging and ever-changing landscape of health care legislation in the state.  She voluntarily contributes her time to these efforts to support the role of advanced practice nursing because she believes in the important role that advanced practice nursing plays in health care delivery – throughout Vanderbilt, the state and the country.  Thomson-Smith is widely viewed as an expert in her field and was recently selected as a 2010 Fellow of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, recognized for her outstanding contributions to health care through clinical practice, research, education or policy.
Advanced Practice Nurse of the Year Award
Kimberly Huffman, MSN, RN, PNP
Pediatric Otolaryngology

Kimberly is the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital resource for the Pediatric Otolaryngology service. She provides continuity of patient care by participating in daily team rounds and attending rounds, evaluating consultations in the ER and with inpatients, and facilitating preoperative and postoperative care of patients.  Although Kimberly joined the Peds ENT team in 2008, her knowledge and clinical skills are well beyond expected for her years of training.  Kimberly confidently assists in patient management and instructs residents how to care for common pediatric otolaryngolgoy problems.  She is a huge resource for ensuring proper multidisciplinary care of pediatric patients.  She maintains open lines of communication with the Pediatricians, Peds GI, Peds Pulmonary, PICU, NICU and ER.  In addition to these duties, Kimberly serves at the tracheotomy resource for Children’s Hospital.  She provides education to nurses, patients and families and ensures that the necessary equipment and supplies are available prior to discharge.  In fact, she is often contacted to serve as a tracheotomy resource for patients not treated by the Otolaryngology service.  In addition, she has developed the website for the Peds ENT department and her efforts there are decidedly centered on patient understanding and care.
Kimberly has created and implemented several new evidence-based practice (EBP) order sets for the Peds ENT service (including postop cleft lip, postop cleft palate).  She was also instrumental in developing a Children’s hospital-wide, standardized post-tracheotomy order set.  Kimberly also serves on the Nursing Research Committee.
Kimberly is an integral part of the Pediatric Otolaryngology team. She is a patient advocate, and provides seamless continuity of care from the clinic and OR to the hospital.  She educates residents and nurses on a daily basis and is a Children’s-hospital wide resource for tracheotomy patients.  Through her collaborative efforts with other services, Peds ENT patients receive the best care possible.
Staff/Unit/Department Educator of the Year Award
Kara Gordon, MSN, RN 

Nurse Educator
Medical Intensive Care Unit
Vanderbilt University Hospital
The recipient of this award demonstrates participation in and models lifelong learning and positively reflects the image of nursing.  Education is Kara’s passion.  She is a positive, knowledgeable, cheerful and caring person.  Kara’s main focus is providing the staff with the tools needed to deliver excellent patient care.  She fulfills this challenging task while remaining positive and helpful.

All aspects of Kara’s work are based on evidence.  She models and promotes evidence-based nursing practice, while coaching the staff in obtaining and using evidence.  She also collaborates with the EBL librarians in obtaining needed information and utilizes critical care research from the National Teaching Institute.  Through the utilization and sharing of evidence, Kara is able to influence nursing practice on the unit and organizationally.
Kara plays a leadership role in both unit and organizational initiatives, including, but not limited to, blood stream infections, Pressure Ulcer Prevention, nurse resident education, HINI, bariatric equipment and the work around the Critical Care Tower.  Helping to maintain a calm environment when anxiety was very high supported the staff to focus on safe patient care.  Kara has been a leader in the work around the Critical Care Tower.  She was instrumental in developing the education provided to all critical care nurses prior to the move and opening.
Kara is an advocate and support for the staff in regard to professional and personal educational goals. She mentors staff in studying for and taking the Critical Care RN certification exams and helps them obtain study materials.  Kara encourages staff to become certified in CVVHD for our renal population.  She works with graduate students and also took a refresher pathophysiology course recently at Vanderbilt.  Kara encourages staff to continue their education whether it is graduate work or other.
Kara is a valued role model and colleague to the staff of the MICU and many others throughout the Medical Center and also a great friend. 
Friend of Nursing Award
Art Wheeler, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
Pulmonologist and Medical Director, Medical Intensive Care
Dr. Art Wheeler is a world renowned physician who has published numerous articles and book chapters that have changed the practice of critical care medicine.  Yet he is often works in the MICU trenches alongside the nursing staff.  Whatever is needed, Dr. Wheeler is willing to help.  Dr. Wheeler promotes nursing in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU), internally and externally both verbally and in writing.  He values nurses’ input and is a role model for others to do the same.
He is a great teacher for nurses and believes in continuing education, providing structured (monthly critical care classes) and impromptu education sessions for the nurses.  He actively encourages the staff to further their education, and he is willing to provide information that can assist in writing a paper or completing an assignment.  His approachable demeanor is welcoming and encouraging.  One nurse stated, “I feel like Dr. Wheeler holds the MICU nurse to a higher standard which in turn builds my confidence in my own knowledge and ability and makes me want to strive to provide the best quality care.”
Dr. Wheeler was part of a group that created a nurse practitioner program for the MICU.  He has provided extensive education and training for this group.  The MICU staff considers it an honor to work alongside a nationally recognized physician who is valued as a colleague and friend.

Transformational Leader
Julie Foss, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Nurse Manager
Medical Intensive Care Unit

Julie has been the manager in the MICU for 21 years and some of the staff have been with her the entire time!  Her hard work, dedication and nurturing spirit have helped to create the awesome work environment in the MICU today.  MICU staff believes she is one of the finest leaders.  Julie is a role model for shared governance.  She sets a tone of enthusiasm and inclusion.  Each staff member knows their comments and ideas are valued.  Through unit board, staff meetings, frequent emails, Friday communication, rounding, and general visibility, staff are able to provide feedback and stay informed about the Medical Center and MICU.
Julie recognizes other departments’ contributions to patient care and urges the staff to show appreciation to those who support patient care.  Recently she shared how a member of our Environmental Services team went above and beyond the call of duty to help with a challenging patient.  As a result, we were able to celebrate and honor the ES staff member.  She co-chairs the Retention and First Two Years Retention Committee for Be the Best.  She is also active in HED Advisory, UTI Advisory, Falls Prevention, VandyWorks, VAP Dashboard, and Rapid Response.  Julie helped lead efforts in transitioning to the new Critical Care Tower.  
Julie treats all people with respect and compassion.  She lives the Credo and is positive and inspires the staff to do the same.

Licensed Practical Nurse of the Year Award
Arthur Thompson, LPN
Neurology Clinic
Our staff fondly refers to Arthur as "Mr. Vanderbilt.”  Over Arthur’s thirty-five years at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, he has been in the forefront of many great activities that have helped to make this institution the place is it today, through Nursing.  Some things Arthur has been a part of are: the first Unit/Clinic Board in our clinic (and is presently the Unit Board Chairperson); a leader in feeding the staff and the patients’ family members on Thanksgiving Day in the Neurology units; advocating for the LPN name badge change; a member of the original Nursing Staff Council, and instrumental in the need to expand and develop a clinic nurse council to better represent the outpatient nurses.
Although for many years, Arthur has been a mainstay in the Stroke division of the Neurology Clinic, he is also a part of the Movement and Headache team in the Neurology Clinic.  Arthur continues to be an alternate for VMG’s Nursing Staff Council as well as alternate for the Nursing Staff Bylaws Convention Delegate.
This year Arthur Thompson has been appointed to the Tennessee State Board of Nursing, and he is one of only three licensed practical nurses on this important board.  This appointment honors the role of the LPN and instills pride for all Vanderbilt Nurses.  Arthur is the type of nurse that makes Vanderbilt Nurses stand out and his work contributes to making us a Magnet designated organization.  Arthur is a good friend to both patients and staff.
Research and Evidence Based Practice Award
Donna Christensen, RN, BS
Evidence Based Medicine Specialist,
Case Management Department
In Donna’s role as an EBM Specialist, she meets the criteria for this award many times over on a daily basis.  Since 2008 Donna has served as a leader on the Nursing Research Committee to build resources that support staff to access nursing literature, conduct critical analysis and make practice recommendations.
Donna supports many nurses in their quest through individual consultation and the development of web-based EBP tools.  One example is the “Got a Question” tab on the Nursing Research web site.  Nurses or any member of the team can post a clinical question and receive a summary of the evidence available to answer the question.  The traffic in this activity is very high and Donna has a personal commitment to provide high quality answers.  A large number of nurses have benefited from Donna’s extra efforts and thus supporting quality patient care.  Donna does work with the research staff in the Eskind Biomedical Library on the complex questions, but screens each one herself.   Donna is a role model on providing feedback and presenting her opinion.

Donna compiled all of the Research website links and for the search tips section.  This has given any nurse at Vanderbilt access to many resources which provide evidence to support or improve patient care.  Donna’s greatest contributions may not lay within the realm of research itself, but her evaluation of the implementation process.  This evaluation process is critical for us to continue to improve nursing practice at Vanderbilt as well as move the science of nursing forward.  Donna has been a leader in the efforts to move Vanderbilt nursing to a higher level of evidence-based practice.  Her contributions to the Nursing Research Committee are invaluable and showcase only a portion of Donna’s dedicated work.

Team Award
Perioperative Services
Guatemala Mission Team September 2009
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Front Row (left to right): Dr. John Pope, Johnette Jackson, Cindy Sisco, Rhonda Tucker, Maria Jose Gallardo, Patty Durchsprung, (directly behind Patty) Brian Durchsprung, Robin Black, and Elisa Arenales
Back Row: Allison Bender, Lisa Johnson, Dr. Dena Engel, Jennifer Carpenter, Tammy Edmonds, Dr. Doug Clayton, Carmen Bobbitt, and Dr. Ira Landsman

Each year throughout the Medical Center, different individuals and teams travel the U.S. and the world on medical missions.  Several teams have gone to Guatemala and we salute all of those teams and individuals.  The particular team being recognized by this award is the Guatemala Team of September 2009.
The success of this team’s hard work is measured in the quality of the lives changed; specifically the children of Guatemala.  From the 96 patients screened to the 51 who received surgical care, this team had a direct impact on the quality of life for many.  Surgical outcomes were measured by clinical data, but cannot compare to the emotional well-being.  The clinical outcomes are followed by both The Shalom Foundation and individual physicians at Vanderbilt.  They were also able to follow-up on past surgical patients and bring that news back to other staff from previous mission trips.
The team demonstrated a strong sense of inquiry in preparation for the trip by packing all necessary equipment and supplies and taking into account cultural aspects as well.  Coloring books and candy were mixed in with surgical drapes and scalpels.  Spanish translation of teaching materials was instrumental to the team’s success.  None of this could have been accomplished without research and team coordination.
The interpersonal communication skills team members honed have improved “hand overs” here at Vanderbilt.  In addition, team members reported they got back to the basics of nursing, through having to “make do” and be creative.  Working with the staff from the local hospital was rewarding for the team and enhanced learning on both sides.  Their welcoming attitudes taught the Vanderbilt team a lesson in inclusiveness.  The team faced challenges and overcame many obstacles.  However, it was worth it to see the smiles and to receive the handshakes and the hugs.  Changing lives in a different country means changed lives back here at Vanderbilt.
Rosamond Gabrielson Staff Nurse of the Year Award for VMG
Lisa Foust, RN
Vanderbilt Medical Group
Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks

Lisa Foust has defined the model for "team approach." Her colleagues respect and admire her, and they turn to her for patient care advice routinely.  Lisa treats every patient as her own, and leaves nothing for the next person to finish.  Lisa's friendly and confident demeanor immediately establishes a good rapport with patients.  But what she offers our patients is far more than a great first impression.  To them, she is a reliable and loyal advocate who inspires trust and confidence.   She is central to their success in blood pressure management, weight loss, dietary and exercise compliance, and lipid management, as she is integral to the follow-up on these patients both in clinic and in the interim between clinic visits.
Lisa has been integral to the success of the Vanderbilt Heart Preventive Cardiology program.   In only two short years Lisa has become so knowledgeable about management of cardiovascular risk factors that she is able to anticipate the next step (e.g. changes in medications) and prepare for it, and she frequently makes pertinent suggestions for patient care and is able to integrate complicated factors like cost, likelihood of patient compliance, side effects, and/or drug-drug interactions into her decision making suggestions.  Lisa has promoted preventive cardiovascular health, women's health, and Vanderbilt, and she continues to self-educate.  She attends evening Vanderbilt Lipid Club journal club meetings regularly and she served as a host at several OHO pening events to promote the new clinic.  She has also been critical in helping design and implement a free (daily!) heart health screening program for women at OHO (this program could serve 500-1000 women per year).
Lisa makes many contacts with other RNs and practitioners to constantly stay involved in what is going on in preventive medicine.  Lisa is also the frontline contact for the preventive program's involvement with the lipid management practice.  She works with that team's NP, MDs, and research team to ensure that patients who qualify for new and ongoing research studies are entered and have assistance.
Lisa Foust is the absolute epitome of nursing.  She is an incredible and loyal colleague.  She is a patient advocate, and her leadership style is organized and thorough.  Her impeccable work ethic, leadership, thoughtful approach to patient care, and contribution to Vanderbilt deserve not only recognition, but great reward.

Rosamond Gabrielson Staff Nurse of the Year Award for VPH
Debby Poole, RN

Adolescent Unit
Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital

Debby Poole Debby Poole is a nurse with many years of experience and she makes those she serves her highest priority.  She embodies the Credo philosophy of providing excellence in healthcare, research and education.  Debby treats colleagues with dignity and respect and values their expertise.  She contributes to her work group in positive ways and supports the efforts of others.  She looks for opportunities to gain insight and new knowledge in an effort to improve patient care.  She is a role model for the practice of nursing and as a team member.  

Debby has been working on her advancement to RN 3 status.  She has her ANCC certification for Psychiatric Nursing and maintains a current Staff Development Record.  Her professional goal is making those she serves her highest priority.  She participates in the Magnet Re-designation process by attending workshop meetings and submitting documentation regarding quality improvement.  She continually evaluates and improves her performance.  She goes the extra mile in providing quality care.  She provides an excellent "hand-over" report to the on-coming shift.  She is compassionate and very caring, not only at work but in her everyday life.  When others are sad or hurting, she lends her helping hands or her shoulder to cry on.  She gives of herself from the heart, without expecting anything in return.  She works well with everyone and is a very generous and giving person. Debby is a wonderful nurse and truly deserves this honorable award.
Rosamond Gabrielson Staff Nurse of the Year Award for VUH
Mary Kristen Hartley, BSN, RN
9 North Surgical Stepdown
Vanderbilt University Hospital
Kristen Hartley is a frequent receiver of 9 North Unit TEAM awards, has been chosen in the past year as a 9 North employee of the month.  Kristen is always a frequent giver of TEAM awards to her peers and other healthcare professionals in recognition of their great work with the patients on 9N.  Caring for our patient population and working alongside the other health care professionals of our medical center is one of the highlights of Kristen's life and she shows it with the genuine caring attitude that her patients’ sense from her each and every day.
Kristen makes herself available to assist other nurses and care partners in providing care to their patients by administering medications, changing linens or assisting patients with repositioning and ambulation.  Kristen also teaches the importance of asking questions to the students she precepts.
On a unit as busy as 9 North, there are endless opportunities to assist, inform, and share knowledge and experience with other members of the health care team.  Students and graduate nurses are in abundance at our medical center, giving nurses like Kristen ample opportunity to educate and assist eager minds that are more than willing to listen and perform.  Kristen views it as her job to be a mentor and to be aware of the capabilities of these individuals.  She also is seen frequently providing instruction, assistance, and encouragement to both nursing students and other students such as occupational therapy or respiratory therapy.
Kristen brightens the unit each and every day she is at work.  She is well respected by her peers, the unit leadership, physicians, and all who work with her on a daily basis.  Her dedication and commitment to her patients, peers, and fellow healthcare team members is second to none.
Rosamond Gabrielson Staff Nurse of the Year Award for Children's Hospital
Katie Parker, BSN, RN
Pediatric ICU
Katie Parker exemplifies CREDO behaviors as noted in her ownership of improving patient care and placing patient care as a priority in her role.  She acknowledges the diversity of our staff and patient population and seeks to change her teaching techniques to meet their needs.  She values each job role and involves each team member to promote positive change.
Katie collaborates at a unit and organizational level to improve patient care through the decrease of Blood Stream Infections (BSI).  She chairs the unit infection committee which reviews and collects data for BSI root cause analyses, researches data, develops resolutions, holds staff education, and follows-up on unit BSI prevention initiatives.  She is a representative to the HED housewide committee, bringing forward concerns and feedback for the work group to not only improve the charting system for PCCU but also the whole organization.  Katie participates in the unit Airway Protection committee with Respiratory Therapy to eliminate VAP, to decrease unplanned extubations, and to improve team work.  Katie is the infection committee representative for Unit Board.  She brings the group up-to-date information and asks for their feedback.  She is also the unit board representative for the Quality role in which she reports out audit data in efforts to involve the members in developing solutions or celebrating the improvements.
As part of the infection committee, Katie has helped on many successful initiatives in the PCCU. She compiled a 2 hour in-service to educate staff on BSI and Blood product administration.  She developed and prioritized the information needing to be conveyed, then taught the other committee members.  
Katie also performs a number of audits to promote patient safety such as Falls Risk, AdminRx, IV site checks, medication double checks, pressure ulcers prevention, and patient assessments.  She performs environment surveys to help maintain a safe and clean environment for staff and patients.  Katie also heavily participates with the units effort to decrease and eliminate pressure ulcers working alongside the Wound Care Nurse to bring updated information and techniques to the clinical staff.


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