Celebrating Nursing’s Image

Winners of the 2009
Nursing Image Awards
The HCPro Nursing Image Awards

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The Nursing Image Awards honored nurses whose leadership, teamwork, and clinical expertise embody an image of nursing excellence and who make a difference in improving patient care, quality outcomes, nurse satisfaction, and the healthcare environment.

A panel of nurse leaders and senior editorial staff from HCPro served as judges for the awards, which were presented at the 2009 Excellence in Leadership seminar in Boston on September 21.

Last year, HCPro, Inc. asked nurses around the country to submit nominations, including a 500-word essay, for the 2009 Nursing Image Awards. We received about 200 entries in two categories.

Image of Nursing in Leadership: This category honors nursing leaders who embody a positive image of nursing through their leadership excellence and who have served as inspiring leaders, mentors, and role models to nurses as they strive to portray an image of professionalism in all that they do, whether by overcoming significant challenges, spearheading change, or inspiring teamwork that resulted in achievement of operational goals/objectives.

Image of Nursing in Clinical Practice: This category recognizes nurses who portray a positive image of nursing through their clinical excellence, and who have made significant contributions to improve patient outcomes, patient safety/quality initiatives, staff satisfaction, practice changes, research or evidence-based practice projects, interdisciplinary collaboration, or organizational goals.

After weeks of careful deliberations, the judges chose the winners and runners up in each category.

Winner: Image of nursing in leadership

Dianne Aroh, RN, MS, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer at Hackensack (NJ) University Medical Center

Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN, with award recipient Dianne Aroh, RN, MS, NEA-BC
Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN, (left) with award recipient Dianne Aroh, RN, MS, NEA-BC (right)
The nomination essay noted Dianne’s abilities as a transformational leader. She joined Hackensack Medical Center when the organization was at a crossroads after a beloved, long-serving CNO had departed. Aroh set out to increase staff nurse involvement in shared governance and let all nurses know their voices are heard and are valued.

During her tenure, Dianne has successfully fostered a transparent, dynamic culture of excellence, collaboration, harmony, and synergy across the entire organization. The colleague who nominated her noted that she is a role model for mentoring, coaching, listening, and visionary leadership, and has transformed the organization into a culture of creativity that supports professional nursing growth.

Judge Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, RC, MN, consultant and co-author of the book The Image of Nursing: Perspective on Shaping, Empowering, and Elevating the Nursing Profession, noted that empowering nurses not only promotes excellence in patient care, it also role models excellence in leadership.

“As a nurse travels up the corporate ladder, leadership becomes more of a challenge than ever,” says Bartholomew. “What inspired me to pick this CNO as the winner is two things: Her success is documented by measurable outcomes and the following description is very unique and embraces the essence of what nursing needs to succeed: ‘culture of creativity, supporting professional stretch, conscious, deliberative, and contemplative risk taking.’”


Honorable mention: Image of nursing in leadership

Kathy Schuler, MS, RN, NE-BC, chief nursing officer at Winchester Hospital, MA

Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN, with award recipient Kathy Schuler, MS, RN, NE-BC
Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN, (left) with award recipient Kathy Schuler, MS, RN, NE-BC (right)

The entire group of nursing directors at Winchester Hospital went offsite on an overnight to get together and collectively write their nomination for the hospital’s CNO, Kathy Schuler. The group notes that she distinguishes herself as a transformational leader by her ability to inspire, motivate, and mentor, which allows her team to lead dynamically, autonomously, and creatively.

“The very fact that the nursing directors came together to nominate their leader speaks volumes in today’s hospital culture,” says Bartholomew. “The amount of risk taking required to defend nursing in these economic times speaks of her commitment and dedication. As a leader, her clear and passionate vision has resulted in hard-wired improvements and earned respect beyond her hospital’s walls.”


Honorable mention: Image of nursing in leadership

Debbie Pusateri, MSN, RN, assistant vice president nursing people officer/critical care services/education, Florida Hospital, Orlando, FL

The nomination essay for Debbie Pusateri, MSN, RN, noted that whether she is on the units talking with nursing teams or in the board room advocating for nurses, this leaders connects with and seeks input from the frontline staff. 

“Debbie distinguishes herself by her willingness to get in the trenches with her staff,” says judge Mike Briddon, executive editor at HCPro, Inc. “Through spearheading the creation of a nursing journal to engage staff and focusing on succession planning, she keeps nursing excellence at the forefront of all her endeavors.” 


Winner: Image of nursing in clinical practice

Neonatal ICU team at University Hospital of Brooklyn SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Neonatal ICU team at University Hospital of Brooklyn SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Neonatal ICU team at University Hospital of Brooklyn SUNY Downstate Medical Center

The nomination essay detailed the team’s focus on quality improvement issues and dedication to providing compassionate, competent care to patients and their families. In addition, the team is always focused on continuing education and works to present a positive image of nursing:

Co-nurse managers Marcia Warner, MA, BSN, RNC-NIC, and Juliette Lowe, MSN, BSN, CNS lead the NICU. “We’re not just a nursing team,” says Warner. “We are a team that values every player: the doctors, the housekeepers, the clerk. Everyone who works here is a part of our team.”

One of the judges, Sharon Courage, RN, MPH, vice president of hospital services and a senior consultant with The Greeley Company, was equally impressed.

“The NICU team has chosen important improvement strategies that not only affect the health of the NICU baby while in the hospital, but also the long-term health and safety after discharge,” says Courage. “The decrease in [central line-associated bloodstream infections] is quite impressive, but they didn’t stop there. In considering the health and welfare of the baby, they embarked on projects that educate parents on techniques such as CPR, choking baby, and first aid that can save the infant’s life after discharge.”


Honorable mention: Image of nursing in clinical practice

Laurie Anderson, RN, MIS, Southern New Hampshire Medical Center

Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN, with award recipient Laurie Anderson, RN, MIS
Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN, (left) with award recipient Laurie Anderson, RN, MIS (right)


Laurie’s nomination essay revealed she is a project manager for clinical information systems at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center and has been the information system representative for the shared governance council.

Laurie works to promote the image of nursing throughout the organization and has even delivered a presentation—called “Putting power in professional hands”—at the national conference on the ANCC Magnet Recognition Programâ.

“This candidate possesses the characteristics of a strong nurse leader,” says Courage. “Her contributions to excellence in clinical practice are demonstrated through her role in nursing informatics. Bridging the gap between clinical practice and the electronic medical record is a very important and difficult role that requires well developed communication skills and an integrated approach to managing patient care.”


Honorable mention: Image of nursing in clinical practice

Maribel Falzone, LPN, Provena Pine View Care Center

The nomination essay about Maribel Falzone, LPN, painted a picture of a nurse whose clinical excellence is second to none, and whose compassion and competence elevate her to a position where she lifts the image of nursing in everyone’s eyes.

The judges noted the respect Maribel has earned from all who encounter her.

“This nurse has not only earned the respect of her peers, but of her physician partners,” says Bartholomew. “She role models the value that she places on the team and fosters collaboration. By seeking excellence in her clinical practice and then sharing this information in a collaborative manner, she elevates the entire nursing profession.”



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