Meet the Six Nightingale Awards Winners of 2020

A deep thank you to my friend and fellow writer Michele Murdock who sent me the first Star Nurses publication, which documents the collaborative effort between the Washington Post and the American Nurses Association (ANA) to nominate six nurses from across Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia who “go above and beyond.”

Hopefully, we will have more collaboration between the ANA or other nursing organizations and news media in order to spotlight nurses who make a difference. What a great way to educate the public about what nurses really do. As you can see, the six nurses selected for the first Nightingale Awards practice in diverse settings and have varied backgrounds. 

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WashPost PR Blog

The Washington Post and the American Nurses Association Announce the 2020 STAR Nurses Award Winners

By WashPostPR

September 2, 2020 at 1:51 p.m. EDT

The Washington Post and the American Nurses Association (ANA) announced the winners of the 2020 Star Nurses Awards, recognizing registered nurses in the Washington, D.C. area with the Nightingale Award for excellence in their field. The six winners, who were nominated by patients and peers and were selected by the American Nurses Association and a panel of fellow RNs, are recognized for their achievements across a range of criteria including compassion and positive community impact. Below is the list of 2020 Nightingale Award Winners:

The winners were announced last night at the STAR Nurses Awards Ceremony, and were featured in the Star Nurses Magazine, which features each nurse and their story. For more information on the program go to: www.starnursesdc.com

All Heart

Photo Credit: Reflections of Zion Imagery ©

A veteran registered nurse on the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Winchester Medical Center, Lisa Dellinger is still passionate about her profession—and loves sharing her enthusiasm with new graduates. 

Lisa Dellinger, RN

“I like admitting hearts,” admits Lisa Dellinger, a Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) registered nurse (RN) at Winchester Medical Center in Winchester, Va. “We come together with procedural precision, and everyone knows their jobs without being told. That still lights a fire in me.”

Admitting a heart is the process of receiving a heart patient following surgery. These critically ill patients do not go to a recovery room. They come directly to the CVICU, where a team of healthcare providers ensures that all their lines and drips are accounted for and they are transferred safely.

“It’s like solving a puzzle,” Lisa added. “It’s a puzzle I can unravel, and I can keep my patients safe.”

From an early age, Lisa was always a problem solver. Although she dreamed of becoming a pediatrician, she knew she could not afford college. Instead, she joined the military and gained experience as a medical technician. It was during this time that she decided to become a nurse. “I realized that nurses get to spend more time with patients, so I knew I wanted to be a nurse,” she recalled.

Today, after 24 years in the field, Lisa is still passionate about nursing. In fact, she is most inspired when helping new graduates navigate the challenges of the profession.

“I love working with new grads. I love being able to pass on some of my knowledge—and hopefully some of my enthusiasm,” Lisa said. “I always tell new nurses that I would rather they ask me a hundred questions than do something to harm a patient.”

Lisa strives to teach new nurses what really matters. While she expects the nurses she mentors to be very attentive to the medical details of patient care, she thinks it is even more important that they get to know patients as people. Learning a patient’s personality can help nurses motivate them to get out of bed and get better, she explained.

“Ultimately, it’s our job to be our patients’ advocates—to be their voices,” Lisa concluded.

Lisa is a strong voice and an even stronger force. She is all heart.

A Big Voice for Small Patients

Photo Credit: Reflections of Zion Imagery ©

As a pediatric oncology nurse researcher at Children’s National Hospital, Pamela S. Hinds, RN, Ph.D., FAAN, helps young patients find their voice and make sure it is heard.

Pamela S. Hinds, PhD, RN, FAAN

Sometimes they want a back rub. They might want to chat about their fingernails. Most of all, they want to be heard. They are young cancer patients. And they have a strong advocate in Pamela S. Hinds, RN, Ph.D., FAAN, a nurse researcher at Children’s National Hospital.

Pamela performs pediatric oncology research that enhances patient outcomes and improves nursing practices. Over the course of her long career, she has had many emotional experiences with young patients and has really learned to listen to them.

“There are so many children whose faces and stories stay with me,” Pamela said. She recalled one young woman who had acute lymphocytic leukemia and experienced several recurrences requiring multiple bone marrow transplants. “I would end each day with a few quiet moments with her. It would soothe her so much when I would just rub her back,” she remembered.

Pamela also recollected a teen girl with a rebellious spirit and an extremely aggressive form of cancer. The girl tried desperately to find something positive. “She would say to me, let’s talk about the one part of my body that’s normal: my fingernails. So we would talk about her fingernails,” Pamela recalled.  

For Pamela, the diverse stories of the many children she has treated are what motivates her research. As the principal investigator for a number of federally funded grants, Pamela can amplify children’s voices to help them get better, more compassionate care.

“For many years, we didn’t ask children questions,” noted Pamela. “We never asked them what it was like to be receiving cancer treatment. We just delivered the treatment.”

Pamela and her team created a comprehensive set of questions to help care providers talk to—and understand—seriously ill children. The questions are now available for use across the country via the National Cancer Institute of the United States.

Speaking of the emotional challenges of her field, Pamela admits, “It’s very painful. But I believe in the power of love. And I see love every day—the love of a parent for a child, and a child for a parent, and also of staff to children and children to staff. That’s an amazing thing.”

That is amazing, and so is Pamela S. Hinds.

Starting (and Staying) Strong

Photo Credit: Reflections of Zion Imagery ©

As a school nurseViktoria Holley-Trimmer is responsible for the health and safety of every student in her building.

Viktoria Holley-Trimmer, MS, RN

You have to start somewhere. Good days start with a nutritious breakfast. Good students must first be healthy students. Viktoria Holley-Trimmer is making sure that students in the District of Columbia start healthy and stay healthy—as a D.C. public school Registered Nurse.*

“I always tell people that I didn’t choose nursing. Nursing chose me,” says Viktoria of how she came to the profession. During the nursing shortage of the 1980s, Viktoria was offered a full scholarship to attend nursing school. She took it, and she has never looked back.

At Francis Scott Key Elementary School in D.C., Viktoria is helping young people achieve their best possible health, so they can thrive as students. “The day in the life of a school nurse includes something new every day,” she said. “Kids are just so amazing.”

From bandaging scraped knees to coaching scared kindergartners to helping kids manage serious long-term illnesses, Viktoria is responsible for the health and safety of every student in her building. She also does regular education sessions with the children, teaching everything from proper hand washing technique to healthy eating habits.

A big part of school nursing is taking care of the broader community. And Viktoria is certainly committed to strengthening her community. Every year, Children’s National Hospital holds a cereal drive to provide breakfast options to underserved children during the summer months. Viktoria is one of the leading contributors.

“Last year, I collected more than 11,000 servings of cereal for children in D.C.,” said Viktoria . “I talked to the parents and the teachers and rallied them to the point where they brought me cases of cereal.”

Even with schools shut down due to the Coronavirus crisis, Viktoria is continuing to care for her community. She is currently working as a contact tracer for D.C., fighting the community spread of the virus one phone call at a time.

From her cereal drive efforts to her day-to-day work in the school, Viktoria is ensuring that children in the District know that someone cares—that someone is committed to giving them a strong start.

Quite a Journey

Photo Credit: Reflections of Zion Imagery ©

Cherissa Jackson is the Chief Medical Executive at AMVETS (American Veterans), a registered nurse, a veteran and a proud post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) survivor.

Cherissa Jackson, RN

Cherissa Jackson has covered a lot of ground. She traveled thousands of miles to complete her tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Back at home, she has logged hundreds of miles running—in an attempt to outrun her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As the Chief Medical Executive at AMVETS (American Veterans), Cherissa is using her skills as a registered nurse and her personal experience with PTSD to help other veterans recover.  

As a single mom to twin daughters, a veteran, a nurse and a leader, Cherissa has overcome some major obstacles—but none has compared to PTSD.  Cherissa served 23½ years in the U.S. Air Force, many of them as a nurse. She served as a battlefield clinician in Iraq in 2005 and 2006 and in Afghanistan in 2011.

“I treated soldiers for PTSD. I knew the signs,” Cherissa recalled. “When I started experiencing some of those same symptoms, I hid in silence for five years.”

When her daughters left for college, Cherissa stopped hiding. “I had a PTSD break. I knew I had to get help,” she explained.

Years later, Cherissa has learned how to manage her PTSD. She uses a tried-and-true regimen of faith, meditation and exercise to keep her disorder at bay. Exercise is key. She said, “I tell people all the time that when I run, I sweat like crazy. That’s me purging those bad thoughts and feelings. That is me getting rid of what I experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Cherissa has shared her struggles with PTSD in several national magazines, and she wrote a best-selling memoir, “At Peace, Not in Pieces” about her experiences. “I strive to inspire others not to live in silence,” she said. “There is a way to be functional and not be ashamed to admit you have PTSD.”

When she joined AMVETS in 2019, Cherissa began running the organization’s HEAL program. HEAL, which stands for healthcare, evaluation, advocacy and legislation, aims to reduce veteran suicide, unemployment, homelessness and hopelessness by providing vital resources.

In addition to her work with HEAL, Cherissa is concentrated on elevating the issues that women veterans face. She created the Women Veteran Journey Map, an online tool that illustrates the unique experiences of women service members.

Cherissa may have suffered in silence for far too long, but she is sharing her journey with PTSD and advocating for other veterans now. She’s covered a lot of miles, and she is determined to leave markers to help those who follow.

Caring and Coaching

Photo Credit: Reflections of Zion Imagery ©

In addition to teaching, Jonas Nguh, Ph.D., RN, a professor of nursing at Walden University, is deeply committed to serving marginalized communities—and inspiring his students to do the same.

Jonas Nguh, PhD, RN

When Jonas’s phone rang in the wee hours of the morning, he was startled. The voice on the other end of the line was frantic, screaming, “Thank you, thank you!” Jonas Nguh, Ph.D., a registered nurse and professor of nursing at Walden University, inspires these reactions from his students.

The caller went on to explain that she was one of Jonas’s former students and that she had just passed her board exam to become a registered nurse. “She told me I was one of the only people who never gave up on her and that kept her going,” Jonas recalled. “She called me before she even called her husband!”

“It’s just amazing to me that I can use my abilities to improve the lives of others, whether that is the people in my community, my students or people around the world,” Jonas added. “I love working with people and for people.”

It is that genuine love of people that brought Jonas to nursing and that makes him such an accomplished educator. The youngest of five children, Jonas grew up in an impoverished community in Cameroon. He has three older sisters who are all nurses.

“I think I was born into nursing,” he said with a smile. “Now I get to prepare the next generation of health care providers.”

In addition to teaching, Jonas is deeply committed to serving marginalized communities—and inspiring his students to do the same. Jonas does several mission trips every year with his students or his faith community.

In 2010, following the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, Jonas facilitated a hand washing initiative. Jonas and his students visited D.C. area hotels and collected the complimentary bars of soap left behind after guests checked out. They found a vendor to disinfect and repackage the soap. The class then delivered the soap to communities in Haiti where hygiene products were scarce.

“Sanitation is the first basic element to prevent infection,” Jonas said. “I’ve always been committed to looking for the little things that can help. This was practical and feasible, and it helped.”

Jonas is proof positive that little things quickly become big things in capable hands. Jonas is not just competent; he is gifted. And he is always willing to share his gift. “This is a calling, not a job,” he concluded of the nursing profession. “It’s a mission. It’s the whole purpose of my existence.”

Hearing and Healing

Photo Credit: Reflections of Zion Imagery ©

Sarah Rose, a registered nurse unit supervisor at Inova Alexandria Hospital, is committed to listening—and really hearing—patients and frontline nurses.

Sarah Rose, RN

Sarah Rose is a good listener. As a registered nurse unit supervisor at Inova Alexandria Hospital, Sarah makes sure that patients’ voices are heard and respected. She also ensures that the nurses who work at patients’ bedsides have a voice in shaping health-care policies and practices.

As a child, Sarah wanted to be a veterinarian. She loved animals, so it seemed like an obvious career choice. Her parents had other ideas. One summer, they convinced Sarah to volunteer at a local hospital. She was able to directly interact with nurses and patients on a daily basis. A new nurse was born.

“I always had a calling to help others, and this junior volunteer program allowed me to see how much nurses were helping,” Sarah recalled. “That started me down the path to become a nurse.”

When Sarah joined the staff at Inova Alexandria, it didn’t take long for her patients and co-workers to recognize her aptitude for caring. She received the hospital’s Nursing Excellence award in 2015, 2016 and 2019.  

Most recently, Sarah was recognized for her efforts to promote shared governance. Shared governance empowers nurses at the bedside to work with leadership to formulate policies and to express concerns drawn from their day-to-day interactions with patients.

After just two years as a staff nurse with Inova Alexandria, Sarah was promoted to unit supervisor in October 2016. Her unit provides step-down care for patients with serious cardiac issues.

“I strive to lead by example,” Sarah says of her role as supervisor. “I want to show new nurses that we can take the time to make personal connections with patients—to use the patients’ names and engage in small talk. Those simple connections make a big difference.”

Even when faced with difficult patients, Sarah remains dedicated to listening first. “It’s not just about letting them speak and then not hearing what they are saying,” she said. “You have to acknowledge what they are feeling. You acknowledge their concerns and then you explain what you’re able to do to help with the best possible outcome.”

Sarah listens. She pays attention. And she connects. By really hearing her patients and her staff, Sarah Rose is helping improve lives and enhance her profession. Sarah’s hearing promotes healing.  

Published by Marianna Crane

After a long career in nursing--I was one of the first certified gerontological nurse practitioners--I am now a writer. My writings center around patients I have had over the years that continue to haunt my memory unless I record their stories. In addition, showing what a nurse practitioner does in her job will educate the public about we nurses really do. So few nurses write about ourselves as compared to physicians. My memoir, "Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers is available for pre-order on Amazon.

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