NightinGala’s Nursing Awards Celebrate the Most Trusted Profession

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The College of Nursing will host its 5th annual Nightingala on May 6. The event recognizes nurse heroes for their positive impact on patients and the Mid-South community.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Nursing will launch its celebration of National Nurses Week May 6 with the fifth-annual NightinGala, an event that recognizes nurse heroes for their positive impact on patients and the Mid-South community.

Nurses from three Memphis hospitals, the Tennessee Department of Health, and UTHSC will be honored during the free, virtual event to be held at 6 pm. Registration is open to all at the event link.

“As we continue to face many challenges on the health care front, it is our privilege to honor nursing – the heartbeat of health care,” said UTHSC College of Nursing Dean Wendy Likes, Phd, DNSc, APRN-Bc, FAANP. “The last year has brought more clearly into focus how selflessly nurses serve, providing compassion, education, comfort, and vital clinical care to people in need, whether they serve on COVID units or cancer wards. It is no surprise to me that nursing has been voted the most honest and ethical profession by Americans in the Gallup Poll for 19 years in a row.”

The keynote will be presented by musician and American Idol contestant David Francisco, who will share his story of tragedy, triumph, and the power of nursing. An alumnus of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Francisco was paralyzed in 2016, when a distracted driver hit him in Nashville. Now an inspirational speaker, Francisco will share his journey of rehabilitation and how nurses played a pivotal role in his recovery.

Hosted by the UTHSC College of Nursing, the virtual event will honor nurses with the following awards: Bedside Nurse Hero, Advanced Practice Nurse Hero, Nurse Leader Hero, Nursing Team Heroes, and COVID-19 Community Nurse Hero. In addition, the college honors a nurse or nursing team with the John W. Runyan, Jr., Community Nursing Award each year. Award-winners will share their insights on nursing, and its impact on their lives and the lives of the patients they serve.

Established in 1979, the Runyan Award recognizes a nurse or nursing team that has made significant contributions to the development and promotion of community health. The 2021 Runyan Award recognizes the Tennessee Department of Health Regional Nursing Directors. These eight directors oversee the state’s 89 rural county health departments and play critical roles in responding to crises, as well as providing primary care and core public health services in these counties.

The directors, who collectively have 171 years of nursing experience, have collaborated with community partners to facilitate more than one million COVID tests and nearly 900,000 vaccines. They are Kathy Snyder, RN, Northeast Tennessee Region; Kathy Nelson, RN, East Tennessee Region; Shelnessa Taylor, RN, Upper Cumberland Region; DeSha Shaw, RN, Mid-Cumberland Region; Michelle Estes, RN, South Central Region; Susan Merriman, RN, Southeast Tennessee Region; and Mica Rudd, RN, MPH, and Janna Beth Shaull, RN, both from the West Tennessee Region.

The winner of the Bedside Nurse Hero Award is Jill Klobe, BSN, RN, CCRN, a nurse at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. Although Klobe works in the cardiac catheterization lab at Methodist North, she is known throughout the hospital for assisting colleagues in other departments and going the extra mile to offer compassionate care to patients. Klobe recently partnered with a nurse scholar to develop and implement a research study on the effect of music therapy on anxiety in patients undergoing angiographic studies. She also mentors new nurses in her department.

The winner of the Advanced Practice Nurse Hero Award is Jami S. Gattuso, MSN, RN, CPON, a nursing research specialist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Gattuso has authored multiple research studies oriented to saving lives or improving the quality of life for children fighting cancer. She also demonstrates excellence through her leadership in the Evidence-based Practice Fellowship at St. Jude. Gattuso is a member of the Association of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology Nurses, and has been recognized with that organization’s Excellence in Nursing Practice Award, the Dr. Patricia Green Leadership Award, and the Dr. Casey Hooke Service Award.

The Nurse Leader Hero Award this year recognizes a nurse in Emergency Services at Regional One Health. Jamica S. Taylor, MSN, RN, is a professional development specialist for Regional One and has demonstrated her leadership in Emergency Services by creating a 16-hour Emergency Services Boot Camp for nurses onboarding in the department, in addition to a comprehensive pocket guide for Emergency Services staff. She also recently received grant funding to establish a nurse residency program in Emergency Services.

The Nursing Team Heroes Award recognizes the Radiation Oncology Clinic Team at St. Jude, which provides compassionate care for patients undergoing very complex treatment. In addition to providing this care during the pandemic, the team assisted with the COVID screening process and staff swabbing program at St. Jude. The team is led by Christina Bosley, BSN, RN, and includes Brittany Bedard, BSN, RN; Tina Myers, BSN, RN; Laura Alexander-Dodds, RN, LADAC; Kathryn Witt, BHS, BSN, RN; and radiation oncology attendant Katherine Walker. The nurse practitioners on the team include Valerie Groben, MSN, PNP-BC, RN; Elizabeth Burghen, MSN, PNP; and Haley Ruleman, MSN, RN, PNP.

The winner of the COVID-19 Community Nurse Hero Award is Terri Stewart, MSN, RN, who was tapped to serve as the chief nursing officer (CNO) of the alternate care facility inside the former Commercial Appeal building to handle potential overflow of COVID-19 patients in Memphis. A nursing instructor at the UTHSC College of Nursing, Stewart willingly accepted the task and was integral to the successful completion of the project’s set up. Stewart brought more than 40 years of nursing experience to the role, including nearly eight years as CNO of Saint Francis Hospital in Memphis.

The UTHSC College of Nursing initiated NightinGala five years ago to provide a forum to honor nurses and the profession of nursing in the Mid-South. NightinGala sponsors include the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Baptist Memorial Health Care, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, and Regional One Health.