In Alignment: Caregiver Awards Reflect Nursing Professional Practice Model

Honoring nurses for exceptional daily nursing practice

Contribution by K. Kelly Hancock, DNP, RN, NE-BC, FAAN, Chief Caregiver Officer.

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In 2011, when the Cleveland Clinic Stanley Shalom Zielony Institute for Nursing Excellence announced its new enterprise-wide nursing awards recognition program, the Cleveland Clinic Maria and Sam Miller Nursing Excellence Awards, one of the key program goals was to ensure alignment with the organization’s Nursing Professional Practice Model (PPM).

Reflecting the philosophies and guiding principles of nurses’ work, one of the model’s core components was the ‘Framework of Care,’ which formed the foundation for nursing practice and encompassed four domains of influence that allowed customization for a nurse’s specific role, professional goals, and personal preferences. These included: quality and patient safety, healing environment, research and evidence-based practice and professional development and education. Thus, the Nursing Excellence Awards Committee devised a selection of four new awards to add to the program to reflect the model’s Framework of Care. The new awards included:

  • Healing Environment Award: Presented to clinical nurses who have made significant contributions to the promotion and support of a healing environment for patients, families and colleagues.

  • Professional Development and Education Award: Given to nurses striving toward professional development and advancing the education of others.

  • Promotion of Evidence-Based Practice and Nursing Research Award: For nurses who promote evidence-based practice and nursing research.

  • Quality and Patient Safety Award: Awarded to nurses who demonstrate quality care and patient safety.

An elite group of nurses recognized

For nearly a decade, as part of its enterprise-wide Nursing Excellence Awards program, the Nursing Institute has presented PPM-based awards to deserving recipients who are nominated for the awards by their peers and colleagues. Each year, just two nurses are selected as award recipients for each of the four prestigious PPM awards.

In further celebration of the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, the Nursing Institute would like to recognize the recipients of the PPM-based 2020 Nursing Excellence Awards. These incredible nurses were recently honored and recognized at a special virtual Nursing Excellence Awards celebration, where their stories of inspiration were showcased.

Healing Environment Award

Recipient: Sarah J. Cady, BSN, RN, Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital, Labor and Delivery

Sarah Cady has been employed at Union Hospital throughout her 15-year nursing career. For the first five years, she worked in pediatrics. She is now a clinical nurse in labor and delivery. “I love being a part of one of the most important life events for my patients, welcoming their child into the world,” she says. Cady is a graduate of Kent State University – Tuscarawas and Malone University and a member of the Ohio Nurses Association. She is proud to serve as perinatal bereavement counselor and as a member of the Perinatal Loss Bereavement Team. Cady says that it has been a privilege working beside and learning from her co-workers. “They all have become family to me,” she says. “We have a very good working rapport and personal rapport with each other. I have learned so much from each individual and their special talents.”

Recipient: Heather Percival, RN, Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital, Medical-Surgical Unit

When Heather Percival graduated from high school in 2011, she knew she wanted a career helping others. After receiving an associate’s degree from Cuyahoga Community College four years ago, she joined Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital as a clinical nurse on a medical-surgical unit, where she serves as a geriatric resource nurse and a certified vascular access resource nurse. Percival is currently pursuing a BSN at Ohio University and is proud to have maintained a 4.0 grade point average despite working full time. She credits her mother with showing her that hard work and dedication pay off, for encouraging her to go to nursing school and for supporting her every step of the way. “I enjoy being a nurse because it is a career that keeps on giving,” says Percival. “I am able to help others and make a difference in peoples’ lives. As a nurse, there are many opportunities I am able to pursue, and I feel that I will always be learning and developing skills.”

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Professional Development and Education Award

Recipient: Barbara A. Semroc, MSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital, Obstetrics

Barbara Semroc spent the first decade of her 41-year nursing career working in oncology at Fairview Hospital. After her own birthing experience, she joined Fairview’s birthing center, where she taught childbirth classes and worked as a clinical nurse for nearly a quarter of a century. Eight years ago, Semroc became a nursing professional development specialist at Fairview. She leads the neonatal resuscitation program and chairs the Code Pink Committee. Through the years, she has shared her expertise on obstetrics through poster presentations at conferences for the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, the Ohio Hospital Association, the Professional Nurse Educators Group and Quality and Safety Education for Nurses. In addition, Semroc is an adjunct faculty and clinical instructor for Bryant and Stratton College. Semroc loves working with staff and new hires in the birthing center, high risk OB and the labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum units. “My focus is on educating the staff on fetal heart rate monitoring interpretation and resuscitation of the newly born,” she says. “I want to give staff the tools they need to provide the best care to our pregnant population.”

Recipient: Lindsey Smith, MSN, RN, Cleveland Clinic Martin Health, Clinical Education and Development Department

A nurse of eight years, Lindsey Smith worked in critical care for five years before joining Cleveland Clinic Martin Health’s Clinical Education and Development Department. For several years, Smith provided education programs, including clinical orientation for patient care technicians. For the past year, she has been a nurse residency program facilitator. Smith is a member of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, ambassador for the Cleveland Clinic Caregiver Council and a participant in the 2020 Treasure Coast Training and Development Strategy Session for the Economic Development Council. Smith says that mentoring has had a deep impact on her personal growth and that it is rewarding to do the same for others. “My job allows me to empower caregivers to grow within the nursing profession,” she says. “It is very special to be a part of someone’s journey, to watch them gain confidence and mentor them along the way.”

Promotion of Evidence-Based Practice and Nursing Research Award

Recipient: Melissa Meeks, BSN, RN-BC, Cleveland Clinic Akron General, Behavioral Health

Melissa Meeks has been a nurse at Akron General for 32 years, choosing to work there because she wanted to be at a large teaching hospital that encouraged research and was on the frontline of new technology and healthcare treatments. For the past five years, Meeks has served as a psychiatry behavioral health clinical nurse. Meeks takes great satisfaction in helping people through difficult times. “Illness brings everything down to the most basic level,” she says. “Economics, profession, etc. – nothing else matters except helping that patient work through this challenge.” Among her accomplishments, Meeks coordinated communication among chairs for more than 30 unit-based Shared Governance Councils at Akron General, including outpatient units and emergency department satellites, and assembled a resource manual for each unit. While the project was a tremendous amount of work, she says, “Many people assisted me with its completion, so this award is actually for all of us.”

Recipient: Gissel Tapper, MSc, BSc, RN, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Quality Patient Safety

A nurse of 25 years, Gissel Tapper joined Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD) five years ago. She served as a staff nurse and clinical instructor prior to becoming program manager for policies and evidence-based practice in 2019. Before joining CCAD, Tapper worked as an ophthalmology nurse for two decades, including as a nurse practitioner and a lead nurse in an eye emergency department in Great Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). In her current role, Tapper enjoys interacting with caregivers from across CCAD, as well as gaining a broad overview of the organization through examination of policies and procedural issues across units. Tapper finds joy in helping others develop personally and professionally and says, “Getting a message of thanks from someone who might not have resumed study had I not stimulated their curiosity to do more for themselves – that is priceless.”

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Quality and Patient Safety Award

Recipient: Annie Fitz, MSN, MBA, RN, NE-BC, CCM, Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital, Nursing Quality

Annie Fitz began her 39-year nursing career as a licensed practical nurse. Before joining Cleveland Clinic as nurse manager of the Harry R. Horvitz Center for Palliative Medicine in 2008, Fitz worked in many specialties, including oncology, hospice and developmental disabilities. “The journey of the people I worked with and the patients I cared for will forever be in my heart,” she says. Since 2015, Fitz has served as nursing quality project manager at Lutheran Hospital, where she led the effort to achieve the hospital’s second ANCC Pathways to Excellence® designation and is currently coordinating the journey to Magnet® designation. Through the years, Fitz has participated in numerous poster and podium presentations and was named faculty at national and international conferences in palliative medicine. In 2011, she received the Barbara Donaho Distinguished Leadership in Learning Award from Kent State University, which honors people who help train the next generation of nurses. “I love being a nurse and inspiring others around me to learn, grow, get their degrees and to seek out higher learning,” says Fitz. 

Recipient: Meggen Platzar, BSN, RN, VA-BC, Cleveland Clinic Main Campus, PICC Team

Meggen Platzar decided to become a nurse after the birth of her first child. “The experience was life changing in so many ways, including inspiring me to become a Registered Nurse,” she says. Platzar has worked as clinical nurse at Cleveland Clinic for 16 years, recently becoming a PICC line nurse in the Imaging Institute at main campus. She led a team of nurses from multiple hospitals and disciplines that standardized the Neuroradiology Intraprocedural Sedation Record to help improve documentation and ease workflow. Platzar says that she uses her brief time with each patient to try to uplift their spirits or engage them in therapeutic conversation. She finds it very rewarding when she can gain successful PICC access so that the patient can receive treatment or obtain a test. “Many are appreciative of our expertise, and that allows me to feel like I have made an impact on many different patients’ hospital experiences, every day,” she says. 

In addition to the PPM award recipients, as it does every year, Cleveland Clinic’s annual Nursing Excellence Awards ceremony also recognized exceptional nurses who earned the program’s Lifetime Achievement awards, Samuel H. Miller Art of Nursing awards, Excellence awards and Leadership awards.

A model update = an awards update

Beginning in 2021, Cleveland Clinic’s Nursing Excellence Awards program will include slight modifications to its PPM-based awards. Recently, the Nursing Institute refreshed it’s PPM to better reflect Cleveland Clinic’s current nursing practices, policies, values and care priorities. Like the original model, the revised model aligns nursing practice with Cleveland Clinic’s mission, vision and values and continues to guide the institute to nursing excellence. As part of the model revisions, the four domains of influence are now:

  • Relationship-Based Culture: Captures the relationships of nurses with patients, each other, other caregivers and the community.

  • Professional Practice and Development: Nurses embrace life-long learning and continuous professional growth to advance the professional practice of nursing.

  • Research, Evidence-Based Practice and Innovation: Evidence guides clinical practice and management. Through research and innovation, nurses transform healthcare to provide the best outcomes for patients.  

  • Quality and Safety: Nurses provide safe care where patients and caregivers achieve high-quality outcomes.

Keep the ‘Year of the Nurse’ celebrations going

Let the celebration of nursing professionals continue throughout your healthcare organizations for the remainder of 2020! It’s been a year none of us will soon forget, and our profession’s amazing nursing caregivers deserve every bit of praise and recognition. Happy Year of the Nurse and Midwife!