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UTHSC College of Nursing Honors Nurse Heroes at Seventh-Annual NightinGala


Six local nurses received awards for excellence in the nursing profession at the seventh-annual NightinGala May 5, hosted by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Nursing. More than 230 nurses and supporters attended the event, which launched the local celebration of National Nurses Week, May 6-12.

“I am proud that nursing has been voted the most trusted profession in the U.S. by the Gallup Poll for 22 consecutive years,” said College of Nursing Dean Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-BC, FAANP. “It is important for our college to take the leadership role in honoring nurses who exemplify the best of this important profession. It is our privilege to recognize their contributions.”

During the 2023 NightinGala, College of Nursing Dean Wendy Likes, left, presented the Runyan Community Nursing Award to Marvia Balfour-Coleman, chief nurse of care in the community at the Lt. Col. Luke Weathers, Jr. VA Medical Center.

Marvia Balfour-Coleman, MSN, BSN, chief nurse of care in the community at the Lt. Col. Luke Weathers, Jr. VA Medical Center, received the Dr. John W. Runyan, Jr. Community Nursing Award. Established in 1979, the award recognizes a registered nurse who has made significant contributions to the development and promotion of community health nursing

Balfour-Coleman has served the Veterans Administration for 28 of her 30 years as a nurse. She is also an active member of the hospital Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System (DEMPS). DEMPS members are VA staff, who travel the nation to support health care systems during times of disaster. Balfour-Coleman has served in many emergencies including Hurricane Marie in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and assisting in state veteran’s homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of the overwhelming number of nominations, three nurses were recognized with the Bedside Nurse Hero Award, which honors nurses who spend most of their time providing direct patient care. The recipients of the Bedside Nurse Hero Award included:

  • Leann Stafford, BSN, RN, who works at Baptist Memorial Hospital – Collierville in general surgery.
  • Lindsey  Kaiser, BSN, RN, who works for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on the bone marrow transplant unit.
  • Carole Schuh, RN, CCRN, who was recognized posthumously for her contributions in four decades of nursing at Baptist Memorial Hospital – Memphis.

Stafford was recognized for her commitment to creating a caring environment and her willingness to help everyone from student nurses to surgeons. Kaiser was recognized for her dedication to quality improvement; she is part of a team developing a device to prevent infection of patients’ central lines. She is also very involved in staff events that foster collegiality.

Schuh served as a critical care nurse for 42 years and was the head nurse for the intensive care unit at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis for many years. She was noted for innovations such as walking ventilated patients and for her commitment to educating others about critical care.

The Advanced Practice Nurse Hero Award honored UTHSC alumna Sara Wilkinson, DNP, CRNA, CCRN, a nurse anesthesiologist at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. She was recognized as the epitome of what a nurse anesthesiologist should be and as an excellent preceptor – a teacher of student nurse anesthesiologists in the clinical setting. She also recently received the Memphis Student Nurse Anesthetist Foundation Inaugural Preceptor Award.

The Executive Nurse Leader Hero Award recognized Kim Muse, MSN, BSN, director of Clinical Quality and Safety for the West Cancer Center & Research Institute. An excellent problem solver and nurse leader, Muse joined West 10 years ago as an infusion nurse and continued to grow in leadership, attaining her current role in 2020.

NightinGala was held at the Great Hall and Conference Center in Germantown. Event sponsors included St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation, Regional One Health, Travel Nurses, Inc., Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, and the West Cancer Center & Research Institute.

More than 230 nurses and supporters attended the event May 5 at the Great Hall and Conference Center in Germantown. Entertainment for the evening included music by the Dentones, a band made up primarily of faculty from the UTHSC College of Dentistry.

Funds raised from the event benefit the UTHSC College of Nursing’s Center for Community and Global Partnerships, which provides grant funding for clinical and community nurses in Memphis and the Mid-South working to improve clinical outcomes in their area of practice.