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HCPro Announces Nursing Image Awards

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   November 16, 2010

Karen Hill started out at Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington, KY, as a teenage candy striper. Today, she's a visionary vice-president and chief nurse executive and winner of the 2010 HCPro Nursing Image Awards: Image of Nursing in Leadership.

Hill's career at Central Baptist has spun 26 years, and through her exemplary leadership, she has created a vision for caring and nursing excellence that has twice been recognized with ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® designation.

As a visionary leader, Hill has empowered staff nurses and leaders with the creation of staff-managed professional RN and LPN career models, a five-level leadership development program, and the development and adaptation of a peer-based staff interview model for every nursing leadership position. The hospital exhibits an enviable nurse vacancy rate and has been named one of the top 10 large employers in the state of Kentucky every year from 2005.

A recent employee engagement survey found that more than 90% of the nursing staff reported they were in agreement with the mission and values of the organization.

Hill supports nursing professional development through such hands-on endeavors as providing mentoring support to nurses interested in being published, the construction of "quiet rooms" on various nursing units for staff and families to meditate and reflect, and an annual graduation/certification celebration to celebrate staff who have achieved new degrees and/or professional certifications.

In contrast to the all-too-common practice of promoting nurses into management positions and watching them sink or swim, Hill created a leadership orientation plan to ensure new nurse leaders receive the support they need. New leaders are given the opportunity to meet with various content experts to learn more about how nursing works with other disciplines and they spend part of orientation shadowing staff members and clinical house supervisors to gain a better understanding of operations in their particular unit.

Through the support of the leadership development curriculum and mentorship opportunities, 60% of the leadership positions within nursing in the last two years have been filled by internal candidates.

 "Karen is a visionary leader who mentors all, shares knowledge through writing and speaking engagements, achieves terrific clinical outcomes and creatively communicates them to her team, and focuses on leadership development and caregiver safety," says judge Melissa Fitzpatrick, vice president and chief clinical officer for Hill-Rom.

"Karen is a leader, mentor, educator and change agent for multiple initiatives," says judge, Bonnie Clair, retention project manager, human resources/recruitment and retention at CoxHealth in Springfield, MO. "She is an exceptionally well-rounded RN who exemplifies visionary nursing leadership at its finest."

As well as visionary leadership, the awards also recognize clinical excellence. This year's winner of the Image of Nursing in Clinical Practice Award is Rebecca Schorn, nurse clinician level 4 in the PICU at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE.

Schorn practices exemplary evidence-based nursing in the PICU, where she serves as a role model for professional practice to both novice nurses and more experienced peers. She serves in a direct care role providing evidence-based, hands-on nursing care, while at the same time ministering to the emotional and spiritual needs of her patients and their families, and she also serves as a preceptor and mentor to new nurses. 

In addition, her dedication to healing has taken her to Uganda, Honduras, and Mongolia as part of her work Samaritan's Purse Children's Heart Project, transporting children with congenital heart defects from their homelands to hospitals in the United States for treatment.

 "Rebecca combines extraordinary nursing care while ministering to emotional and spiritual needs," says judge Clair. "She is smart, caring, compassionate, and artful, and serves both locally and internationally. This nurse, to me, embodies the very essence of professional nursing: Equally skilled in both science and art with a heart to serve."

"It was a difficult choice, but in the end, it was the reality that this nurse's reach of excellence goes far behind the walls of her facility," says Mike Briddon, executive editor at HCPro. "Along with skillfully guiding the next generation of nurses, she gives presentations, publishes her experiences, and works with foreign countries to spread her love of nursing."

Please join me in congratulating this year's winners and thanking them for all they bring to nursing.

Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at

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