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UTHSC College of Nursing Honors Nurse Heroes at 2020 NightinGala Celebration of Nursing


The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Nursing will honor nurses from three Memphis hospitals, the Shelby County Health Department, and the Tennessee Health Department during its fourth- annual celebration of the nursing profession – the 2020 NightinGala – to be held virtually October 22. Registration is free and open to all at btsvirtualevents.com/uthscnightingala.

Ruth Antony

The Nurse Hero Awards take on special significance in 2020, as health care professionals serve on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The year is also recognized by the World Health Organization as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Hosted by the UTHSC College of Nursing, the NightinGala will honor nurses with the following awards: Bedside Nurse Hero, Advanced Practice Nurse Hero, Executive Nurse Hero, and COVID-19 Community Nurse Hero. In addition, the college honors a nurse with the John W. Runyan, Jr., Community Nursing Award each year. With 164 years of combined nursing experience, the award winners will offer an evening of inspiration as they share stories of their passion for nursing.

Dr. Carla London

“Even as we take safety measures due to the pandemic, we felt that this year it is important to make a special effort to provide a forum to honor nurses for their tireless and heroic efforts,” said Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-Bc, FAANP, dean of the  UTHSC College of Nursing. “We hope that all who love and respect the profession of nursing will join us in this virtual celebration of some of the unsung heroes of our community.”

The winner of the Bedside Nurse Hero Award is Ruth Antony, RN, of St. Francis Hospital in Memphis. With 18 years as a registered nurse, Antony consistently receives kudos from patients for her skilled care and kindness as the post-operative charge nurse. She also mentors new nurses in her unit.

Dr. Carla London, DNP, APRN, CFNP, of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, will be recognized with the Advanced Practice Nurse Hero Award. Dr. London is the advanced practice provider manager for the Infectious Disease Clinic at St. Jude. She provides exceptional comprehensive care to adolescents and young adults with HIV/AIDS and serves as a mentor to her colleagues. Dr. London is also chair of the St. Jude Nursing Diversity and Inclusion Council.

Cindy Wooten

The winner of the Executive Nurse Hero Award is Cindy Wooten, MSN, RN-BC, system director of nursing practice and professional development for the Baptist Memorial Health Care System. With more than 40 years of nursing experience, Wooten is responsible for developing patient policies, procedures, and guidelines and leads the System Nursing Practice Council to oversee nursing practice. An advocate of lifelong learning, Wooten has obtained and overseen grant funding for nurses seeking graduate degrees.

Dr. Alisa Haushalter, DNP, RN, PHNA-BC, director of the Shelby County Health Department, will be recognized with the COVID-19 Community Nurse Hero Award. Dr. Haushalter has led the public health response to the pandemic in Shelby County and has been integral to developing guidance to keep the public safe, including the three-phase approach to reopening the city and county.

Dr. Alisa Haushalter

The Runyan Award, established in 1979, recognizes a nurse who has made significant contributions to the development and promotion of community health. The 2020 Runyan Award winner is Jenny Dudzinski, MSN, RN, state public health nursing director for the Tennessee Department of Health. Described as an excellent leader and team builder, Dudzinski was also awarded the Intra-State Departmental Suicide Prevention Award by the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network in 2018.

The UTHSC College of Nursing initiated NightinGala four 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, Regional One Health, the Tennessee Center for Health Workforce Development and Dr. Haushalter.