Ann Blackford

UK Honors Outstanding Nurses During National Nurses Week

Published: May 9, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky, (May 9, 2014) − UK HealthCare nurses are being honored and celebrated with nurses across the nation this week as part of the annual National Nurses Week, which runs from May 6, known as National Nurses Day, through May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.


The week has included a series of receptions and presentations at different locations throughout the UK HealthCare enterprise, including an awards ceremony on Thursday, May 8, to recognize some of UK's brightest and most shining examples of excellence in the nursing profession.


"Our nursing vision is to 'lead the way for every patient every time,' said Colleen Swartz, chief nurse executive at UK HealthCare.”We celebrate our discipline’s unique role in making substantial contributions to the care we provide in a complex, high acuity environment with our interprofessional team of colleagues. We want to celebrate nursing's ability to lead in our patient-centered, cultural transformation."


The annual awards and their recipients include the following:    


The Diana Weaver Leadership/Management Award, named for Ms. Diana Weaver, Associate Hospital Director from 1984 to 1991, recognizes nurses who have excelled as dynamic and confident leaders in positions of management and administration. This year's recipient is Jill Dobias, clinical nurse specialist at Markey Cancer Center, most noted for her leadership capabilities, and as a model of excellence in every aspect of her practice.


The M.J. Dickson Quality Nursing Care Award, named for Mary Janice Dickson, executive hospital director from 1970 to 1979, recognizes nurses who demonstrate a commitment to professional nursing practice through high quality nursing standards. This year's recipient is Alice Carpenter, registered nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), most noted for her clinical expertise and outstanding compassionate nursing care.


The AI UK Quilt of Teamwork Award recognizes an individual or group of professionals that support the practice of nursing at UK HealthCare. This year's award goes to the Emergency Department Pharmacy program (ED PharmD). The ED PharmD's have a significant impact on nursing care by providing just in time medication consultations, drug delivery during high acuity trauma care, and being available to collaborate with ED nurses regarding dosing and medication choices.  


The Nightingale Preceptor Lamp Award, named for Florence Nightingale, who spent her night rounds giving personal care to the wounded, establishing her image as 'the lady with the lamp,'  recognizes an experienced staff nurse who functions as a teacher, advocate, and role model in guiding, directing, and supervising the preceptee. This year's recipient is Christina King, a UK critical care nurse for more than 20 years, most noted for acting as a mentor and a preceptor to others, and one who seeks out learning opportunities for herself.


The Nursing Professional Advancement Award (NPA) is named to honor the professional contributions made in nursing. The award is bestowed to a nurse who demonstrates excellence in efficiency, quality and safety, service practice, and professional development and is based on portfolio presentation and score. This year's recipient is Tsitsi Gwanyanya, a registered critical care nurse in the Cardiothoracic and Vascular Intensive Care Unit with 22 years of experience.


The Karen E. Hall Nursing Education Award, so named for Karen E. Hall, staff development specialist and critical care nurse at UK from 1967 to 2010, recognizes a nurse who has demonstrated quality education to the nursing staff either in their unit or to the enterprise. This year's recipient is Sarah Quigley, registered nurse in the Cardiothoracic Vascular Intensive Care Unit (CTVICU). Quigley is noted for demonstrating quality education to her patients and co-workers as well as her role in the development of the Step Up for Ambulation Project.


A special award was announced for the first time this year. The Firestarter Award is named in recognition of Karen Sexton who served as the associate hospital director from 1992 to 2001. During her tenure, Sexton's values, interdisciplinary teambuilding and teamwork, organization-wide education and a commitment to excellence were evident in her leadership. Sexton was instrumental in UK's initial Magnet journey and the expansion of the airmedical program. She was a constant force for change at the bedside to improve the nurse and patient experience.


The first recipient of the Firestarter Award is Sarah Gabbard, a clinical nurse specialist in Trauma and Acute Care Surgical Services.


"Sarah was instrumental in leading the Nurse Sensitive Indicator (NSI) steering team initiatives for prevention of infections," said Kathleen Kopser, senior nurse administrator. "As a result of her persistence and efforts she made a significant impact on decreasing infection rates on the Trauma and Surgical Services service line.  She is the impetus in bringing together interdisciplinary teams that support nursing excellence initiatives.  Sarah stands firm in her conviction for leading the way for every patient, every time."


Media Contact: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442 or


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