Nurses recognized at Fifth Annual Nursing Dinner and Gala Awards Ceremony


Take a moment and try to imagine a world without nurses. It’s impossible, right? Nurses are a group of compassionate professionals, who tirelessly advocate for positive change in the health care system and play a vital role in the health and well-being of our clients and communities. In an effort to recognize this devotion, a special week is set aside in May of each year.

National Nursing Week was first celebrated in 1985. Now in its 29th year, individuals across the country join together to recognize the great work of nurses. This year’s theme is “Nursing: A Leading Force for Change.”

On Monday night (May 12), Eastern Health in partnership with the Health Care Foundation marked the beginning of National Nursing Week through its Fifth Annual Nursing Dinner and Gala Awards Ceremony. The purpose of the event was to recognize nursing excellence and achievements throughout the organization.

Employees throughout Eastern Health were asked to nominate nursing staff whom they felt demonstrated nursing excellence across various areas. The nominations were meticulously reviewed and evaluated by nomination scoring committee.

“The time and effort that people put into the nominations is obvious,” said committee lead and Nursing Professional Practice Consultant, Heather Hunt-Smith. “It is a true indicator of the value that others place on these professionals. Their words are genuine and always heartwarming to read.”

With more than 5,400 nurses working across Eastern Health, there is a rich and diverse blend of new nurses, experienced nurses, educators, formal and informal leaders, preceptors, and nurses in advanced practice roles. There are also nurses who function quite independently in their practice, and those who are integral members of nursing teams. The one commonality is the obvious commitment to excellence in nursing practice.

“At Eastern Health we are so fortunate to have such an outstanding group of nurses,” said Katherine Chubbs, Chief Nursing Officer at Eastern Health. “The hard work and dedication of our nurses has a huge positive impact on how this organization functions and the Nursing Dinner and Gala Awards Ceremony is a formal opportunity to recognize this excellence.”

This year the Fifth Annual Nursing Dinner and Gala Awards Ceremony was held on a very special day – the birthdate of modern nursing founder and leader, Florence Nightingale.

Florence Nightingale was responsible for many firsts in nursing history, and became known for her unique nursing practice that was a blend of care and compassion, with the use of research and evidence to make informed decisions.  Although nurses today live and practice in a very different time than Nightingale, the tenets of modern nursing practice remain very much rooted in those of the profession’s founder.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the nominations that were received for this year’s awards.

Fittingly, the event started with the introduction of the first ever Nightingale Leadership of the Year Award, which went to Maria Sheppard, Registered Nurse and Care Facilitator on 5NA at the Health Sciences Centre.

Some of this year’s award winners at the 5th Annual Nursing Gala, with vice-president Katherine Chubbs and regional director of allied health professional practice Mollie Butler.

Some of this year’s award winners at the 5th Annual Nursing Gala, with vice-president Katherine Chubbs and regional director of allied health professional practice Mollie Butler.

The event also recognized 13 other individuals within eight categories, including:

Beginning Practitioner of the Year

  • Jenelle Pike, Registered Nurse, 2 South, Dr. L. A. Miller Centre

Nursing Practice of the Year

  • Tracy Hillier, Registered Nurse, Home and Community Care, Peninsulas
  • Darrell White, Licensed Practical Nurse, Hoyle’s Escasoni Complex
  • Cynthia Mackey, Registered Nurse, Coordinator, SANE Program (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner), St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital Emergency Department
  • Sarah Strangemore, Registered Nurse, PICU Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre
  • Greg Lovett, Registered Nurse, Med-Surgical ICU, Health Sciences Centre
  • Alison Wheadon, Registered Nurse, Public Health Rabbittown Community Centre

Advanced Nursing Practice of the Year

  • Kirk Dawe, Nurse Practitioner, Med-Surgical ICU, Health Sciences Centre

Nursing Educator of the Year

  • Lisa Avery, Registered Nurse, Bonavista and Dr. G.B. Cross Clarenville

Nurse Preceptor of the Year

  • Brenda Noseworthy, Registered Nurse, Endoscopy St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital

Clinical Manager of the Year

  • Michele Clarke, Registered Nurse, St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital Emergency Department

Clinical Director of the Year

  • Debbie Walsh, Registered Nurse, Regional Director Perioperative Program

Healthy People, Healthy Communities Team Award

  • Palliative Care Unit and Consult Team, Dr. L.A. Miller Centre

While recognition is certainly the highlight of the Annual Nursing Dinner and Gala Awards Ceremony, and throughout National Nursing Week, it is something that needs “doing” and “saying” during the remainder of the year.  Nurses, and indeed all healthcare providers, need to know that others truly do care for the way in which they care. Thank you and congratulations to all of our wonderful nurses!

This story was written by Heather Hunt-Smith, a nursing professional practice consultant with Eastern Health.

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