By Ann Butler
Nurses in their modern incarnation work in such a diversity of occupations and touch so many lives in different ways, it’s hard to get a grip on their impact.
But the Southwestern Colorado Area Health Education Center gave it a shot on March 16, holding its annual Nightingale Luminary and Star Awards at the Henry Strater Theatre.
The event is designed to “shine a light on exceptional nurses from the region who inspire compassionate health care,” as the AHEC describes it. It also serves as an opportunity to raise money for scholarships for people pursuing nursing careers, bringing in more than $1,000 for the Nightingale Community Nursing Scholarship Fund.
Two second-year nursing students – Roger Youngs and Tracy Beanland – at Southwest Colorado Community College were awarded nursing scholarships.
“Everyday nurses work tremendously hard – selflessly giving and helping others,” said Kathleen McInnis, executive director of the Area Health Education Center. “This is a celebration to acknowledge all that they do, and we hope that our fundraiser will encourage more young nursing professionals to strive for excellence in the health care profession.”
The Nightingale Awards were founded in 1985 and were christened in honor of Florence Nightingale, considered the founder of modern nursing. In May, The Colorado Nursing Foundation will honor up to 60 Nightingale Luminaries statewide. Area Health Education Centers and private Nightingale committees in 10 regions will select the Colorado Luminaries from hundreds of nominations.
Six nurses will represent Southwest Colorado at the state level. In the clinical-practice category, Susan Caudle of Hospice of Mercy and Jody Lamb of Southwest Health System were named Nightingale Luminaries for advocacy, and Nikole Young was honored for leadership.
In the Administration, Education, Research or Nontraditional Practice category, Sara Carver of Southern Rockies Addiction Treatment Services was selected for advocacy, Amanda Harrison of Pediatric Partners of the Southwest was recognized for innovation, and Terri Schmitt, who works at Vista Mesa Assisted Living in Cortez, was honored for leadership.
As part of a regional effort to honor both novice and experienced nurses from the eight-county region served by the Southwest Colorado Area Health Education Center, the organization created the Star Awards in 2014.
Bobbi Lock, who works for Montezuma County Public Health, received the Shining Star Nursing Award. The award requires the recipient to be a registered nurse who has worked or is working within the field for more than 10 years, who has demonstrated leadership skills and has made an impact on the profession and/or on patients.
Other nominees included Kim Ackles, Jennifer Beckermeyer, Laura Schiavone, Talonda Sprague, Keith Swindell, Susan Tipton and Kelley Unrein.
Nurses early in their careers, having worked as a nurse for fewer than 10 years and showing leadership and growth potential, are acknowledged with the Rising Star Nursing Award. This year, Martha Anchando, who works at Hospice of Montezuma, was selected as the honoree. Other nominees were Francesca Ferlita, Amy Galyon, Heidi Larrick and Rebecca Wells.
For those who don’t know much about it, the Southwestern Colorado Area Health Education Center is a nonprofit that has a broad focus on improving access to quality health care by providing support and coordinating programs for the community, health professionals and students interested in the field. It serves a region including La Plata, Archuleta, Dolores, Hinsdale, Montezuma, Ouray, San Juan and San Miguel counties.
To learn more and to sign up for the e-newsletter, which I find chock-full of information, visit www.swahec.org.
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