2018 Distinguished Dozen (Nurse of the Year) Winners

Out of 220 nominations, these 13 Ascension Texas nurses from were nominated by their peers as our 2018 Nurses of the Year. A “Nurse of the Year” continuously goes above and beyond to provide the highest quality of care and health outcomes for the patients we serve.

Take a moment to read about these nurse winners who utilized innovation to achieve quality, efficiency and resilience.

The Distinguished Dozen

Maribel Abarro, BSN, RN
Seton Medical Center Williamson, Nursing Department Supervisor

“Maribel is a natural patient advocate compassionately standing on what is right and safe voicing her compassion for the highest quality of care among her sphere of influence as a peer and leader.

One day census was surging and Maribel was called in last minute and as soon as she arrived the SMCW volume based Admission/Transfer Unit(ATU) needed to be opened. She immediately sprang into action delegating the care of her patient to another nurse while she went to the ATU to facilitate the opening of and moving of six patients from the ED to this unit between 0700 to 0900. She spent the remainder of the 12-hour shift ‘owning’ the unit without the usual support staff necessary to manage throughput and direct care. She easily wore at least half a dozen hats this day with an extreme workload intensity. Thanks to her stellar leadership the ATU closed by 7 pm for best patient outcomes.”

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
I knew I wanted to become a nurse when I was a senior in high school. My passion in nursing began in Chicago, Illinois.

How long have you been a nurse? How long with Seton?
I have been a nurse for 18 years, and 6 years at Seton.

Why is your heart in this work?
My heart is in this work because I have always felt the need to care for people who cannot take care of themselves.

What has being a nurse taught you?
The nursing profession is ever-changing and diverse. Every person is different and you will never know who you will be caring for the next day. Nursing has taught be to keep an open mind and heart, to be compassionate, and humble. I may not know what challenges the people I care for are facing, but I know for sure that I am providing them the best care to my abilities to better their health outcome.

Please tell us about your most rewarding or proudest moment as a nurse since you joined Seton.
I have many great memories of people I have met and worked with at Seton. My most rewarding or proudest moments as a nurse since I joined the organization would be volunteering with the Medical Mission. To have an opportunity to serve the poor and the vulnerable by volunteering humbles me and makes me feel that I’m contributing in a positive way to help in this capacity. My main reason I wanted to become a nurse comes from the desire to help people and care for them in times of need.

What do you do to flourish or thrive?
I am a person who thrives on being challenged or look for opportunities to learn new things or skills and share the new education I’m learning with my colleagues. My Spiritual life is as important to me as my physical and mental being. I enjoy having family or devotional time. I enjoy working out, hiking, watching movies, volunteering with my family. Family and work balance are important to me.

Coleen Backus, MSN, RN
Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, Chief Nursing Officer

“Coleen is an inspiring nurse leader at Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas (DSMCUT) and led the way not only during the design and build of the new hospital but also during the historic move from UMCB to DSMCUT.

Coleen is leading work to define nursing professional practice standards within the newly formed service line structures at DSMCUT that support GME (graduate medical education) programming for medical and surgical teams. She facilitated the redesign of critical care beds based on discharge diagnosis, bed availability and physician/RN satisfaction metrics while utilizing Lean methodologies. This led to delineation of a surgical/trauma ICU and a medical ICU. In the new DSMC, the 2 departments function at nearly 100% occupancy while supporting care of very different populations. Nurse retention rates have been more stable than when the department was a general ICU and quality outcomes have improved month over month.”

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
I first knew I wanted to be a nurse when I was a teenager. My nursing passion began in Burlington, Vermont.

How long have you been a nurse? How long have you been with Seton?
I have been a nurse for 31 years, and 25 years at Seton.

Why is your heart in this work?
It is an honor and a privilege to be able to care for people in their time of need. This amazing team I get to work with, makes a difference each and every day in the lives of those we serve. I am grateful to be part of this work.

What has being a nurse taught you?
Humility

Please tell us about your most rewarding or proudest moment as a nurse since you joined Seton.
The most rewarding moment(s) of my work is being able to be a small part of mentoring the next generation of nurse leaders. I am extremely proud of all they have accomplish and will continue to accomplish.

What do you do to flourish or thrive?
Practicing the art of being fully present.

Andrea Franco, BSN
Seton Medical Center Austin, 4 North, Unit Staff Nurse

“This past fall Andrea was caring for an elderly patient on our unit who she noticed was seemingly more depressed every day. After spending time with the patient, she learned that his wife was also a patient in our hospital and was in ICU. The patient was worried about his wife and lonely for her company as they had spent a lifetime together. During her busy shift, Andrea reached out to the ICU team to gather information on the patient’s wife. The patient thought that she was unable to receive visitors and Andrea not only found out that she could receive visitors Andrea took the patient down to the ICU and stayed with him so he could visit with his wife. Every shift that she worked after that she also took him to visit his wife. As an RN, she was able to look at this patient holistically and understand that all the medications and interventions in the world would not have helped him as long as he was worrying about his beloved wife. Andrea provided this elderly couple the best medicine that they could have which was each other.”

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
In early 2007 my fabulous Austinite Aunt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She gathered of few things from her home and went to El Paso to be closer to her best friend, my mother. After completing my first semester at University of Texas at Austin in May I returned home to help my parents and younger sister care for her in our home with the help of Hospice. The summer passed too quickly for all of us. I knew I wanted to become nurse when I saw my aunt’s nurses at her funeral. They had formed a caring relationship with her and my family. They educated us on how to keep my aunt comfortable, laughed at my aunt’s stories, and cried with us at the end. I admired their strength, knowledge, and compassion. The day after the funeral I returned for the fall semester at U.T and changed major to ‘pre-nursing’.

How long have you been a nurse? How long have you been with Seton?
I have been a nurse for 7 years, and all those years at Seton.

Why is your heart in this work?
My heart is in my work because I work with real people with real lives and loved ones. We have one life to live and I want to help people make the most of theirs.

What has being a nurse taught you?
Being a nurse has taught me that nobody ever thinks it will be them or their loved one in the hospital bed. Most patients and family members are strong and graceful despite being vulnerable and in the care of complete strangers. Being a nurse has also taught me that teamwork and a strong leader like Jonna Jenkins can make all the difference.

Please tell us about your most rewarding or proudest moment as a nurse since you joined Seton.
My proudest moment as a nurse was one of advocacy. A patient had complications during a routine outpatient procedure and as a result, got admitted to my unit. The patient was experiencing abnormal levels of pain post operatively, couldn’t breathe well and lost consciousness. The spouse moved to the corner as I called a CRT (Critical Response Team). My team supported me and my patient, including the house supervisor. When I established contact with the surgeon I was met with orders for Valium and frustration because the chest x-ray taken three hours prior was within normal limits. We had eyes on the patient and something was clearly not routine about this anymore. I advocated that patient needed stat chest x-ray and my charge nurse Jennifer Taylor, supported me and the surgeon allowed us to place the order. The chest x-ray revealed and increasing pneumothorax and a resident was sent up to re-position the chest tube. The patient re-gained their color before our eyes and was able interact. My heart filled with joy and my eyes with tears, WE saved her! Two hours later I accompanied my patient and their toddler down the hall for the first post-op walk, a Victory Lap.

What do you do to flourish or thrive?
Being a nurse is emotionally and physically demanding. To keep my mind, body and spirit well, I spend my time outside of work gardening, improving my home, traveling, cooking and spending time with my loved ones.

Jonathan Hecht, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, CCRN, CNRN
Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, Advanced Practice Supervisor

“In 2010 the Institute of Medicine published ‘The Future of Nursing’ report advocating that Nurses would be the change agents of the future. Jonathan Hecht epitomizes ‘The Future of Nursing’. He has devoted his entire adult life to providing care to the poor and vulnerable population at Brackenridge, and recently leading the ‘patient move’ to Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas. He embodies Ascension’s mission and values, while maintaining ‘The Spirit of Brackenridge’.

Jonathan has co-led multiple studies and was recently recognized for his first published article while presenting at a predominantly physician focused national meeting! This is a huge accomplishment and his work on reducing CAUTI and the subsequent article are significant contributions to our profession. He continues to be instrumental in developing, leading, and implementing protocols on; the reduction of CAUTI’s, the Network Sepsis VCO, ‘the nurse driven urinary catheter removal’, and ‘Nursing guidelines and resuscitation protocol’ for the new Burn program, to name a few. As an Advanced practice provider, Jonathan personifies excellence in his care of patients; in whom he has deep respect and compassion for the dignity and diversity of life.”

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
When I started working as a Clinical Assistant (CA) in the Intermediate Care Unit (IMC) at Brackenridge Hospital, my goal was go to Medical School. At the time, I had a very poor understanding of what physicians did when compared to nurses and other health professionals. After working alongside some of the most intelligent and insightful nurses in the IMC and ICU at Brackenridge, I decided to change my major at the University of Texas (UT) and ultimately apply to their Nursing program.

How long have you been a nurse? How long have you been with Seton?
I have been a nurse for 14 years, and 18 years at Seton.

Why is your heart in this work?
I believe in Seton’s Mission and Values and I strongly support caring for the vulnerable patient population we see at Seton, especially at Brackenridge and Dell Seton Medical Center. I also thrive in the Academic Medical Center environment where new approaches to patient care are not only embraced, they are cultivated.

What has being a nurse taught you?
Being a nurse has taught me how to creatively blend both science and compassion and how, regardless of your position, title, educational preparation, or setting, my focus as a nurse is always on the person or people who I’m able to help, not simply on treating a disease.

Please tell us about your most rewarding or proudest moment as a nurse since you joined Seton.
I think my most rewarding moment up to this point was on May 21st, 2017 when I coordinated the transfer of all the critically ill patients in the Surgical ICU and Medical ICU at Brackenridge across the street to Dell Seton Medical Center. There had been so much time and effort spent to prepare for that day and despite obstacles and a couple of unforeseen transfer of patients in to the Medical ICU, the day was a resounding success. To that point, I had never been a part of an event that large and I am so grateful to have been an integral part of it.

What do you do to flourish or thrive?
Having been the Educator for the Brackenridge ICU for a period of time, I really grew to love teaching. I find great joy in being able to convey a complicated concept in a way that helps new nurses understand how to care for the incredibly complex patients we see in the ICUs. I also very much enjoy running and training for distance races. To date, I have trained for and completed 12 marathons including the Austin Marathon for the last six years along with Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit, Houston, and Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. twice. Running offers me the ability to feel both healthy and rejuvenated while also having a sense of accomplishment, of setting out to do something and seeing it completed.

Laura LeBlanc, BSN, RN, CCRN-CSC
Seton Medical Center Austin, House Supervisor

“Laura was faced with an extraordinary challenge called during her night shift to receive 20+ patients from the devastated coastal region during a hurricane. With limited resources in partnership with a hospitalist, she developed a triage process to off load these transferring hospitalized patients. She ensured a seamless flow of identifying the patients and their specific needs, coordinating assessment by the physician and obtaining appropriate placement of the patients within our hospital. She assisted the families and care givers accompanying the patients and was recognized by the disaster bus EMS team as the best evacuation receiving center they had encountered.

“Laura brings an outstanding level of positivity, professionalism, and collaboration to her role as House Supervisor as she interacts with both patients and staff members in the hospital. She demonstrates a commitment to lifelong learning through her pursuit of a graduate degree in nursing and yet she also reinforces the importance of self-care in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.”

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
I started as an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse in Houma, LA, and moved to Texas with the intention of attending medical school. However, I fell in love with nursing again at Seton Medical Center Austin’s ICU, and spent 6 years there before eventually pursuing my MSN.

How long have you been a nurse? How long have you been with Seton?
I have been a nurse for 9 years, and 7 years at Seton.

Why is your heart in this work?
It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to take care of patients and their families at their absolute worst, and to make it even a little bit better for them. I’ve seen so many miracles in my time here.

What has being a nurse taught you?
Perspective. Anytime I think I’m having a bad day, I go to work and realize nothing is wrong in my life that is worth fretting over – I’m not the one in the hospital bed.

Please tell us about your most rewarding or proudest moment as a nurse since you joined Seton.
Most recently, I responded to a CRT (Critical Response Team) on a medical-surgical floor and spent an entire hour with this patient, her husband, the doctor, and her entire team of RNs and Respiratory Therapists. It took that long for us to stabilize her and safely get her to Intermediate Care Unit (IMC). She was later transitioned to comfort care, but not until after her children were able to make it to the hospital – the husband was extremely grateful for everyone’s involvement.

What do you do to flourish or thrive?
I spend a good bit of time training for races with one of my mutts (my other mutt is there for moral support and a nap afterwards 😀 ) and I recently completed my first 30K race at Big Bend!

Madeline Lopez, BSN, RN, CPN, CPON
Dell Children’s Medical Center, 4 North Hematology/Oncology, Nursing Shift Supervisor

“Madeline has been with Dell Children’s Medical Center(DCMC)/Children’s Hospital of Austin (CHOA) for at least 3 decades working in Hematology/Oncology. Madeline is cross-trained in ED and during the holidays when ED was critically short, she agreed to work all her shifts in that area for 6 weeks. Additionally, when Pediatric ICU was in need, she agreed to go to that area and care for an oncology patient that was there so that the other nurses could focus on other patients in that area. Madeline is one of a kind!”

“Madeline was recognized by a family and received an award for her selfless actions. As a charge nurse, she rounded with the family and asked if there was anything that she could do for them (this family had a very long stay at the hospital already). The dad said that his son was out of clean clothes and if there was somewhere he could wash them. She said she would do it and asked the father to gather all the clothes for her. When she came back to the room, the father had only gathered up his son’s clothes. Madeline said ‘I want all of your clothes.’ The father gathered them all and gave them to her. The next morning, he woke up to see that all the clothes were clean and were neatly folded into beautiful stacks. That day the father recognized Madeline for going above and beyond to make sure that the ‘little things’ were taken care of for his family.”

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
I wanted to be a nurse since the age of 13 years old, I grew up in New York City and the poverty around me influenced my decision to obtain a career where I can help people live a healthier life.

How long have you been a nurse? How long have you been with Seton?
I have been a nurse for 39 years, and 28 years at Seton.

Why is your heart in this work?
I work with pediatric oncology patients, my job is my heart, I love what I do, from creating a smooth transition to such a difficult journey to providing the education and updates to alleviate fears and concerns.

What has being a nurse taught you?
Nursing first all has taught an abundance of patience, compassion, and above all to listen first. To place myself in the patient shoes and try to offer a more comfortable hospitalization visit.

Please tell us about your most rewarding or proudest moment as a nurse since you joined Seton.
Well, that is easy! When the Cancer survivor kids visit us at the hospital, or when I see them all grown up, or the moms recognized me and show me the picture of the adult child that I once provided nursing care for. I tell you it makes my heart swell so much sometimes I think it’s going to explode, of course I can’t help the joyful tears.

What do you do to flourish or thrive?
I take 2 vacations a year. I practice kindness and compassion to all and it rejuvenates me to continue to flourish in my profession. I have a great family support, I practice healthy habits, such as exercise and nutritional meals, I attend church, pray, and I read and every now and the treat myself to massage or pedicure. All the above keeps me balanced, so I am always trying to instill these practices to the new nurses and friends because it works.

Stephanie Maldonado, MSN, RN
Dell Children’s Medical Center, 2 North Intermediate Care Unit (IMC), Charge Nurse

“To many people, like myself, Steph was the first smiling face we saw when starting on the Intermediate Care Unit (IMC). She welcomes each staff member with open arms and makes them feel right at home, which immediately fosters a strong team atmosphere! She is a strong charge nurse and has handled some very stressful situations with grace and patience. She makes us want to be better nurses by watching how selfless she is!”

“Stephanie improves quality of care, commits to the excellence in nursing practice, is involved in our Happy Committee, demonstrates servant leadership, inspires trust through personal leadership, takes conscious ownership for her work, while contributing to the mission, and is a preceptor to contribute to the development of new graduate nurses and patient education needs.”

“Stephanie is the epitome of compassionate care, she takes the time to acknowledge the needs of her patients and advocate for them in ways that no other nurse I’ve seen has.”

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
It was once I completed my Bachelor of Science in Biology that I knew I wanted to pursue nursing as a profession. Numerous conversations with friends and acquaintances who had returned to school for a second degree in nursing helped to confirm this to me. I was able to see nursing as a role through which one can use their interpersonal strengths coupled with desires to be generous, learned, and understanding to be present for others through illness and suffering.

How long have you been a nurse? How long have you been with Seton?
I have been a nurse for 3 years and all of those at Seton.

Why is your heart in this work?
This work is a joy. I feel it’s very personal calling on my life. This work is a channel through which to love others, to love God, to give, and to be genuinely helpful and considerate. Also, children are the best; my heart is kept in it by experiencing God through them and their families.

What has being a nurse taught you?
In short, so much; everything. Patients ran through my mind as I processed this question. I’ve learned from them the grace and transcendence of gratitude by how they have expressed thanks through unthinkable discomfort. I have learned of the resilience of children, the love of parents, the suddenness with which life can change, the good fruit of suffering, the power of knowledge, the effect of willingness, the basic human need of presence, the impossibility of decision, the beauty of “disability”…and so. much. more. I will forever be learning in this role.

Please tell us about your most rewarding or proudest moment as a nurse since you joined Seton.
It brings me joy to know from a parent, patient, or family that they are comforted and brought peace by my assumption of their care. When this is expressed to me, I give thanks, not from a need to be needed, but because I deeply desire for families and patients to feel safe as others manage their care in the very foreign and strange setting that a hospital is. When families and patients are fearful to rest and express anxiety over their care because they feel unsafe with us, I feel grieved because that means we’re certainly not doing our job. This encourages me to be knowledgeable, gentle, and proactive, to the end of putting families and patients at ease.

What do you do to flourish or thrive?
As a Christian, I find my rest in the life, words, ministry, and finished work of Jesus. Belief in the fact that He has created everything (this world, this work, every person, every instance) by, for, to, and through Himself humbles me. Accepting that He perfectly lived in order to restore everything to God and to renew every bit of brokenness encourages and comforts me like nothing else can. The future hope that He promises (no pain, tears, illness, evil, or death) because of His triumph over death on the Cross perseveres me. If I flourish or thrive, it is by Him.

Holly Paulos, BSN, RN
Dell Children’s Medical Center, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Staff Nurse

“Holly is an amazing advocate for our tiniest babies that do not have a voice.”

“I am a new leader at Dell Children’s Medical Center and was privileged to meet Holly on recent rounds in the NICU. After introducing myself and ensuring I wasn’t disrupting care, I asked Holly if she could tell me a little bit about her patient. I was not prepared for what I was about to hear. Holly explained her patient’s very complicated condition that, without definitive intervention, would likely be lethal. Layered on top of this was the family’s complex social circumstances. Holly worked with the clinical team to fully understand the condition so she could be the strongest patient advocate, but at times was discouraged with the poor progress and lack of optimism from the team. That signaled her to take advocacy to a new level and research the condition in peer reviewed literature to ensure that she had the latest evidence to bring to the team for consideration. The result of that effort was a fully engaged discussion from the multi-disciplinary team and agreement on a modified approach to the one Holly researched. The family was brought in to the conversation once viable options were identified. Holly’s willing pledge to the child and family is exemplary and a model for any professional nurse to use as a gauge of their commitment to the calling of this sacred profession. We are proud to have Holly on the Dell Children’s team!”

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
I’m not sure anyone has enough time to read all the many reasons I feel it was in my nature to become a nurse. When I was a very young girl, I told my mother once that ‘when I grew up I want to be a nurse or a doctor, and if I get sick of looking at guts, I will be a Rock-Star.’ In high school, I attended the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine and was afforded a unique opportunity to shadow a variety of health care professionals. It was during this experience that I decided my personality aligned most with that of a nurse, and thus my mind was set.

How long have you been a nurse? How long have you been with Seton?
I have been a nurse for 6 years and 6 years at Seton.

Why is your heart in this work?
Specifically, becoming a NICU nurse was something very near and dear to my heart. I have a brother who was born with a rare and detrimental genetic disorder called Trisomy 13. In an effort to have him at home with my family during his limited time with us, my parents learned how to provide oxygen and nasogastric tube feedings for him. His life may have been a short 30 days, but every moment with him was beautiful and meaningful to my family. I feel that it is my parents’ ability to overcome such a devastation that has instilled such a passion in me. I hope that every day I go to work I am helping other families to also have a positive experience with their NICU baby.

What has being a nurse taught you?
Being a nurse has humbled me greatly. Each of us will endure sickness and loss of a loved one, or even ourselves. We are all going through this life together, we are all here in a blink of an eye. We need each other. We need to be kind to one another. I have learned (and I am still learning) so much more than just this, but I feel it is the most valuable.

Please tell us about your most rewarding or proudest moment as a nurse since you joined Seton.
This moment! Being nominated as nurse of the year is the ultimate honor. I am only here 36 hours a week, and although I am getting paid to be here, I still just want to do as much as I can for these babies and their families. I put my heart into my work, and for it to be recognized is the greatest reward.

What do you do to flourish or thrive?
Outside of work I enjoy gardening, hiking, swimming, yoga, painting, and reading. I am so blessed to have a very fun and loving husband. He is quite the comedian and he is also my voice of reason. We both have amazing supportive families and friends, as well.

Susan Phillips, BSN, RN, CEN, CPEN
Seton Northwest, Emergency Department, Charge Nurse

“Susan is truly one of the most inspiring trauma nurses I have ever had the privilege to learn from and work with. Her ability to teach, collaborate team efforts, and commitment to clinical excellence are some of her many attributes. Susan takes the time to build therapeutic and compassionate relationships with her patients during critical times and always ensures that they have a clear understanding of what is going on.”

“Susan was assigned to triage and received a phone call at the nurse’s station from a patient who’d been recently discharged from our ED. The patient demonstrated rapid, pressured speech and was incoherent with audible crying. Susan could discern that the patient felt she was having a reaction to a prescribed antibiotic. She encouraged the patient to return to the ED for further assessment. The patient refused to call 911 or return to the ED and the call ended. Susan then investigated which county emergency service to reach out to and then requested a 911 welfare check. The patient eventually called back, and expressed her gratitude to Susan for speaking to her and sending EMS to her home. Susan consistently serves as an outstanding role model.”

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
When I was 17 years old I obtained my EMT certification. I began working on an ambulance in Trenton, NJ. This allowed me to have an introduction to medicine and patient care. I met many nurses who were not only brilliant minds, but had a passion for patient care. This inspired me to focus my studies on nursing.

How long have you been a nurse? How long have you been with Seton?
I have been a nurse for 15 years, and 4 years at Seton.

Why is your heart in this work?
There are many reasons I continue to find passion in the work I do. I have always enjoyed learning and staying on the cutting edge of new theories and technology. As an Emergency Room nurse I find myself faced with different challenges every day. This constant changing environment has kept me on my toes and has created a life-long learner. I also have a passion for teaching new or upcoming nurses. I was extremely lucky early in my career to be surrounded by an abundance of experiences nurses. I enjoy watching students or new nurses begin to connect the theory they have learned and adapt it to everyday practice.

What has being a nurse taught you?
The number one thing being a nurse has taught me is patience. As nurses, we are faced with people from all cultures and walks of life. As health care providers, we are there to be the ‘calm’ in the patient’s ‘storm.’ Dealing with difficult patients and families takes a tremendous amount of patience.

Please tell us about your most rewarding or proudest moment as a nurse since you joined Seton.
I recently received the DAISY Award. I have always felt strongly it is important to treat people the way you would want yourself or your family treated. It was very touching to know that I made an impact on a patient. In the Emergency Room you do not always have a long interaction with your patients. This reminded me how it is the little extra things you do for your patients that can have the most profound impact.

What do you do to flourish or thrive?
Having a balance between work and family has not always come easy. However, events in our lives can help one focus on the people that are most important in our lives. There is nothing I enjoy more that family dinners and game nights. This is time for us to catch up and share a laugh. Another passion mine is fishing. I find it peaceful to be out in nature.

Rosemary Ramirez, RN
Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU), Staff Nurse

“At work Rosemary is always doing the utmost to care for her patients, showing great humility and compassion. At least one patient always returns to say ‘hello and thank you’ to her. Everywhere I go, I always run into someone who says ‘I know Rosemary! She helped me when —!’.”

A patient’s family wrote the following about Rosemary. “My mom had her third stroke in the span of six months, and this one was by far the worst. When we were transferred from the ER to the ICU, the whole experience became very real. The first time I spoke to Rosemary, she was calling me for consent to put my mom on a ventilator. When I arrived to see my mom, I was in shock and so disoriented. Rosemary floated in with this jovial glow about her. She introduced herself and quickly related to us about kids and parenthood. I didn’t even know we were allowed to talk to the nurses about normal life things. She was our translator for all the doctor jargon and our personal gladiator. Her power to bring positivity and laughter to us in this time of tremendous anguish is absolutely astounding. My mom worked in the ER for fifteen years, so I grew up in the healthcare industry, and I can say with unwavering certainty that Rosemary is the best nurse I have had the pleasure of meeting. In addition to her warm caring nature, she is clever and innovative. We were having a lumbar puncture done on Mom. This meant bringing this large x-ray machine up to Mom’s room. Rosemary was the one who thought to take advantage of that x-ray machine being in the room to insert her nasal feeding tube. Initially, it was going to have to be done blind because Mom couldn’t be moved from her room. Rosemary got it approved by the team and killed two birds with one super accurate x-ray stone!”

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
I always remember my mom dreading going to the hospital. She looked after my ailing grandparents and she often said she’d seen more than her share of hospital rooms. She would complain endlessly about everything: the parking lot was too crowded, the halls were too long, the rooms too cold. But the one thing she consistently praised were the nurses. I wish I had a dollar every time she said ‘I don’t know what I’d do if it wasn’t for those nurses.’ They made a bad situation tolerable and their kindness is what she always remembered. I knew I would be the person that helped ease someone suffering…if only for a little while. One of my personal achievements is that my mom was at my nursing graduation.

How long have you been a nurse? How long have you been with Seton?
I have been a nurse for 13 years, and 19 years at Seton.

Why is your heart in this work?
Nursing is a challenging and often difficult job. I meet people in difficult, stressful situations and get just a small window of time where I can influence any preconceived perceptions and hopefully have a positive impact on someone. I truly believe nursing is a calling and not just a job.

What has being a nurse taught you?
Humility. In my years of nursing I can easily say that humility is my immediate answer to this question. I am humbled by the people I have had the privilege to care for.

Please tell us about your most rewarding or proudest moment as a nurse since you joined Seton.
One of my favorite memories is taking care of an elderly gentleman that had been in the hospital for over a week. His wife NEVER left his side and she was known to be a challenge. I was assigned to him and his wife and I spent the morning caring for him. But by noon she announces she’s going home to ‘get some rest’. Surprised at hearing this I ask if everything was ok. ‘Look, I’ve seen how you take care of my husband. I know he’s in good hands.’ I beamed with pride.

What do you do to flourish or thrive?
I love my family time. We love movies and the Oscars are our super bowl. In addition to that we are trying to attend a national park every year.

Kristin Robbins, MSN, RN
Dell Children’s Medical Center, 4 South Neurology, Clinical Nurse Supervisor

“Kristin is constantly recognized for her positive attitude and takes the initiative to improve quality and patient experience every change she gets. On our pediatric neuro unit, Kristin recognized that our increasing number of infusion patients were experiencing a confusing, inconsistent and inefficient admission process. She took it upon herself to develop a smooth and seamless process for these patients who come in for a few hours of biotherapy infusion. She developed binders will all biotherapy information that is needed for these patients, she has worked with pharmacy to make sure we have everything they need, she has reached out to the clinics to educate them on the admission order needs for these patients, and organized an Infusion Cart with all supplies the nurse will need to get the infusion started quickly and smoothly, and has worked with the educator to help get more staff biotherapy certified, all leading to improved customer experience, improved quality of our care, and improved efficiency for the family and the providers referring these patients to us.”

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
I realized I wanted to be a nurse when I was working as a lab tech for Quest Diagnostics. At that time my roommate was going to school at Texas Women’s University for nursing. She would come home from clinicals with these amazing stories. I knew then that I should pursue a career in nursing because I wanted to have those stories too. I wanted to be challenged every day in a profession of caring and compassion.

How long have you been a nurse? How long have you been with Seton?
I have been a nurse for 7 years, and 6 years at Seton.

Why is your heart in this work?
Being in the hospital with a loved one can be one of the scariest moments in your life, especially if that loved one is your child. I love being able to be with families and patients through these experiences, and being able to make a difference through care, compassion, and patience.

What has being a nurse taught you?
I have learned to compassionately communicate with patients and families. I have learned patience. Above all else, I have learned how to find joy even in the smallest of victories.

Please tell us about your most rewarding or proudest moment as a nurse since you joined Seton.
This past Christmas I was able to care for a patient requiring end of life care. I was able to help a foster family and biological family orchestrate a beautiful Christmas photo shoot for this patient. While end of life care can be sad, the moments that these families were able to capture were anything but sad. They were beautiful images that this family would be able to cherish long after the patient’s passing. I will always be thankful for being able to share in that beautiful moment with those families.

What do you do to flourish or thrive?
I strongly believe in work life balance and self-care. I spend my days off in Austin cooking, being in nature, and working out. Whenever I have the chance to travel I take it. I love traveling with my husband, friends, and family. This past year I traveled to Spain, Austria, Germany, Denver, Portland, and Taos.

Jan Stallings, BSN, RN, CPAN
Seton Medical Center Austin, Pre/Post Surgical Services, Clinical Manager

“Jan has been the total embodiment of leadership and commitment to Seton’s Mission for many years. She has the soul and patience of a saint with the changes, and never says no to anyone. If it be a change to the department she contemplates how to implement it to our department and welcomes feedback from staff on how we can make it work better for us. Jan has spoken up for our staff, and been our advocate in the construction to our new department as well as fighting for us to keep our staff so we can function safely. She has been an amazing manager, role model, and friend to have the privilege to work with.”

“She engages staff with passion, integrity, skills, and facilitates her nursing staff to think for themselves logically while keeping both the patient, network goals, and safety as equally top priorities. Over the years of Jan’s tenure as the clinical manager for PRE/POST Surgical Services she has built a solid, unwavering team of highly skilled and compassionate nursing staff who have stood together with Jan’s leadership to maintain an ever-evolving service line.”

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
I was profoundly influenced by my Dad’s being diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in the 1980’s while I was attending the University of Texas in Austin. I watched him go through surgery, on to ICU then to the floor. I watched how the various disciplines worked with my Dad and how they ‘cared’ for him. I observed the complexity of the work and experienced the compassion that was extended to all of us as a family. It was all about relationship and communication. I knew that I wanted to be a part of making a positive difference in someone else’s life.

How long have you been a nurse? How long have you been with Seton?
I have been a nurse for 32 years, and 27 years at Seton.

Why is your heart in this work?
I learned about holistic healthcare (body, mind and spirit) and I believe that I was called into the profession and into my job role. My sister is a nurse and one of my role models to whom I aspired to emulate. I found her stories to be exciting and rewarding. She also influenced my choice to grow into different roles as a nurse. I try to make a difference with everyone that I meet.

What has being a nurse taught you?
Empathy, optimism, creativity, passion, patience, perseverance, unconditional love and so much more.

Please tell us about your most rewarding or proudest moment as a nurse since you joined Seton.
I have had so many rewarding and proud moments that it is difficult to narrow down. I have an amazing team that I have had an opportunity to watch evolve. I have mentored a number of people who are successful in their chosen career paths-nursing, physician assistants, physicians, pharmacists, licensed counselors, fire fighters, and others. I have watched an amazing young woman who started with me as an allied health student in high school, a CA while in college and as a new graduate in my department. She is now a Charge Nurse, Nursing Congress representative and leader in the department. I have 2 others who started with me as Capstone students, new graduates and have developed into leaders in the department as a clinical nurse supervisor and the other is our educator. I have taken great pride in watching those I have mentored at Seton become such successes and I am proud to be part of a system that encourages this practice.

What do you do to flourish or thrive?
Spending time with family. My relationship with God/Jesus/Holy Spirit, running, hiking, outdoor sports, dog training, camping, mediating and reading. I am learning to draw. I am very attentive to eating healthy foods.

J. Tankersley, RN
Providence Health Center, Emergency Department, Staff Nurse

“J. Tankersley RN embodies the spirit of quality and compassionate caring for both his patients and his fellow associates. He has been a nursing preceptor for new graduating RN’s for over 20 years, I know this as he was my preceptor when I graduated in 1994. It is RARE to have a nurse stay and work in a community and dedicate their lives and careers to helping others. He is a true healer, educator, nurse, teacher, and his work with the mentally ill in our Emergency Department takes quality care to a whole higher level. His compassion as a caregiver was most evident to me as I saw him work with the mentally ill in the Emergency Department, I don’t know how many times he reminded us all not to be too quick to judge someone’s behaviors, as we never truly know the FULL story until often much later. He was always an advocate to not judge a patient by its cover, take the time to care for each one the same as you would. He embodies CHRIST’s message in ‘treating your neighbor as you yourself would like to be treated.’

Inspiration for the way things should always aspire to be, his work here in Waco has been like a seed, which grew and produced fruit. That fruit produced seeds that grew, and on and on. I have witnessed his skills and compassion and J. Tankersley embodies what a true compassionate caregiver should strive for in their daily career.”

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
During EMT training in 1987 I realized that I want to pursue my career choice of nursing.

How long have you been a nurse? How long have you been with Providence?
I have been a nurse for 25 years, and 10 years at Providence.

Why is your heart in this work?
I am dedicated to caring patients and their families during their most vulnerable times.

What has being a nurse taught you?
Being a nurse has taught me to be selfless, patient, and open minded.

Please tell us about your most rewarding or proudest moment as a nurse since you joined Providence.
My most rewarding moments are seeing nursing students and graduate nurses that I have had the opportunity to teach flourish in their chosen profession.

What do you do to flourish or thrive?
I enjoy working out regularly, and spending time with my family and friends.