The board of directors wanted to make 2020 the year of the Nurse special so set their sites on an award program for the association.  The board wishes to thank the awards development committee for their work on establishing our awards program.

  • Dr. Alma J. Labunski
  • Renee Maeweather-Reed
  • Dr. Sarah Silvest-Guerrero
  • Dr. Martha Bergren Dewey
  • Kimberly A Bertini
  • Dr. Tiffany Greer
  • Theresa Ellingsen

Their work resulted in establishing three awards – the clinical practice award, the nurse influencer award, and the student nurse of the year award.  We are proud to present the inaugural awards in this the year of the nurse.

The Clinical Practice Award recognizes an exemplary nurse who provides evidence of a high level of skill in-patient care through improving clinical practice and patient-centered outcomes.

Nominations must demonstrate evidence-based ability to design, implement, and evaluate evidence-based practice changes and/or quality improvement initiatives to promote improved patient outcomes.

2020 Clinical Practice Award winner – Dr. Colleen Morley DNP RN CCM CMAC CMCN ACM-RN

The nomination statement received stated, Dr. Colleen Morley is nominated for the Clinical Practice Award in recognition of her conception, creation, and leadership of a program that exemplifies the role of Nurse Case Managers as the coordinators of the interdisciplinary team. Her thorough and visionary leadership of the project meets and exceeds every criterion listed for the award. As the Director of Case Management at West Suburban Medical Center (WSMC) in Oak Park, IL, Dr. Morley was the driving force behind an interdisciplinary team that included everyone from senior management to discharge planners and every member of the patient care team in between.

The project created an in-patient education intervention to better prepare patients with chronic medical conditions for more effective self-management after discharge using a Skills Simulation Experience and focused one-on-one structured education format in a circuit-based intervention.  The Health Confidence Lab for patients admitted with COPD or CHF provides focused chronic condition management education.  As an interdisciplinary intervention, the healthcare team presents standardized education in a circuit training presentation to allow for one-on-one interaction with healthcare professionals, using multiple teaching/learning strategies, to assist the participant in acquiring or reinforcing skills needed to successfully self-manage their conditions post-discharge.

Dr. Morley has evolved and improved the discharge process. She brought it from physician orders, written discharge instructions accompanied by a stack of indecipherable patient education handouts, and recommendations for follow up to an interactive transitional process with active education and patient engagement opportunities incorporated directly into the acute hospital stay. Her work is deserving of the Clinical Practice Award and deserves rapid adoption and support throughout our acute care system.

The Nurse Influencer Award recognizes an exemplary nurse who has influenced the science of nursing practice or care delivery system, a group/community/population (patient or other care providers) sick or well. Contributes to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) in any care or community setting (at any level, local, regional or national level) or nursing profession through education, advocacy, policy, or practice.

Defined by Mariam Webster, an Influencer (noun): “one who exerts influence, a person who inspires or guides the actions of others.”

Nominations must demonstrate evidence of the nurse’s influence over the science of nursing practice or care delivery system, a group/community/population (patient or other care providers) sick or well, contributes to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) in any care or community setting (at any level, local, regional or national level), or the profession of nursing through education, advocacy, policy or practice.

2020 Nurse Influencer Award winner – Susan Gonzalez MHA, MSN, RN, CNML

Ms. Gonsalez’ nominator stated, “Susana González is an amazing nurse advocate and leader who fully commits to everything she embraces. Her purpose in life is to leave this world a little better than she found it. She is especially focused on mentoring and developing the next generation of bilingual, bicultural Spanish speaking nurses, and promoting all education levels in changing their lives.

Susana is currently a nurse educator and consultant providing education and training services for ASI Home Care agency in Chicago. In addition, she is an adjunct faculty at Morton College for the A.D.N. program and an adjunct faculty for DePaul University’s Master entry school of nursing. Susana is strong in developing and leading operations, academics, simulation skill learning, and excellent in coordinating partnership development.

Throughout her career, Susana has role modeled authentic servant leadership and served on numerous committees and boards of directors of key organizations on a local, state, and national level. She continues to be at the forefront of health care issues for women, infants, children, and the nursing profession. She is active on advisory committees for elected officials in the State of Illinois. She is an exemplar advocate for public policy change, especially for the nurse profession and diversity and inclusion in higher education. She is an exemplar role model and mentor to aspiring nurses who seek a career in healthcare. She mentors and guides students in any capacity that she can offer. She takes an opportunity to truly make a difference. A most recent service is her volunteerism on several yearlong medical missions on the island of Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria.

Susana has served on many boards of directors, such as the March of Dimes-Chicago, Mujeres Latinas en Accion, the Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium. At this time, she an active member of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses-Illinois as the Past President and serves as a National board member, where she Co-Chaired the National Policy and Advocacy and now the Membership committees. She is an active member of the Illinois HealthCare Action Coalition and the American Nurses Association-Illinois, where she serves on the board of directors. In addition, Susana is a member of the Illinois Organization of Nurse leaders on the Policy & Advocacy Committee. She has been profiled on WLS-TV Channel 7 during Hispanic Heritage Month. She has received the National Association of Hispanic Nurses-Community Service Award and the March of Dimes-Jonas Salk Nurse of the Year award for her commitment to service. She was recently named Nurse of the Year for the National Association of Hispanic Nurses and Ambassador of the year for 2018. She recently received the Nurse Leadership award for the Illinois chapter of NAHN in 2019.

She is a life role model for nursing education and community servant leadership. On a personal note: She lives by the philosophy that if there is something she can do for you now, then let it be so. For, we may not walk this path again.

The Student Nurse of the Year Award recognizes an outstanding student nurse who exemplifies compassion, exceptional promise in clinical expertise, and academic achievement- the underpinnings of nursing excellence.

Nominees for this award are recognized for outstanding achievement, exceptional academic or clinical ability, or exemplary compassion and caring toward their clients and peers during their years of study.

2020 Student Nurse of the Year Award winner – Rory Nicholson

The nominator stated, “I have come to know Rory over the past few years in their time as a Master’s Entry to Nursing Practice student as well as a peer-tutor graduate assistant in the simulation lab. From the moment I first met Rory, I knew he would be a wonderful student and future nurse. He has an extremely pleasant disposition, excellent management skills, unmatched ability to improve educational processes, and a drive for thorough team collaboration. All these unique characteristics have made him an exemplary nursing student as well as an employee.

When I found out Rory had put in his application to be one of my graduate assistants, I was ecstatic, because I knew he would be a wonderful addition to our strong team. After a unanimous review decision, Rory was hired into our team, and made a lasting impression on the school of nursing immediately. Rory’s biggest contribution is a recreation of our on-boarding and support processes for graduate assistants, as well as making the graduate assistants more available to the students they serve. This has resulted in improvement of graduate assistant function and job satisfaction, which in turn has improved our student’s experience in nursing school.

Rory has achieved the highest levels of academic and clinical excellence, which is evidenced by his nomination and unanimous awarding of the DePaul University School of Nursing’s Fatima Patel Clinical Excellence award. Only one student per cohort can be awarded this distinction, and Rory was unanimously given this, despite being part of a highly achieving cohort. I would estimate at least ¼ of his cohort could have gotten this award if they were not in such a competitive pool.

I am sure at times he may have found me to be demanding. I have always held him to a very high standard didactically and clinically, as I have known he had some of the highest potential to be an extraordinary clinician, even from my first conversation with him years ago. Being in leadership and administration in both the academic and clinical realms of nursing, I can honestly say I have never come across a candidate with Rory’s qualities. He is among the best nursing students, if not the best, I have seen in my years in nursing education.

Rory is, without a doubt, a strong, unique candidate that is capable of anything within the field of nursing. Therefore, I highly recommend Rory without any reservations for this award.