Nurses Week Honors, Celebrates UAMS Nurses

By Kate Franks

On Friday evening, office buildings and bridges across the Arkansas River were lit up in blue and white lights in tribute to nurses across Arkansas. The bridges were lit to honor nurses at the suggestion of Ava Coleman, a member of this year’s Nurses Rock Committee. Week-long activities included selfie-stations, bingo cards, fitness center and gift shop discounts at the hospital and the Cancer Institute.

The UAMS Center for Nursing Excellence held its tenth annual Professional Nursing Awards on Wednesday, May 11. For the first time since 2019, the ceremony was held in person, and it was also available for viewing on Zoom and UAMS Nurses Facebook Live.

Watch the video of Nurses Week 2022 celebrations.

The Excellence in Advanced Practice Award was presented to Rosalyn Perkins, APRN, from the Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. She oversees the high-risk obstetrics telemedicine program and ensures that the program’s nurses have the skills needed to deliver care both in person and at a distance. She has worked in women’s’ health for most of her nursing career and all of her career as an advanced practice nurse. She has led the way in building a program that allows mothers to seek care close to their home and include family to support her.

On Friday evening, office buildings and bridges across the Arkansas River were lit up in blue and white lights in tribute to nurses across Arkansas.

On the evening of May 6, office buildings and bridges across the Arkansas River are lit up in blue and white lights in tribute to nurses across Arkansas.Jean Prince

Holly Jenkins, RN, from the Integrated Medicine Service Line (IMSL), was named the winner of this year’s Advancement of Nursing Practice Award. This award recognizes outstanding accomplishment in a field of practice, education, or research and demonstrates the interdependence of these elements and their significance for the improvement of nursing and health care. She led the electronic medical record transition to Epic for all nurses in regional programs and went to each site to answer questions and follow up each training with continued virtual support. During COVID, she transitioned to many different roles in the IMSL, including working in the monoclonal antibody infusion clinic, administering vaccines for staff, and spending many hours assessing employees for return to work and taking care of any needs that were not being met for UAMS staff on COVID quarantine.

The Excellence in Nursing Education Award recognizes the work of outstanding nurses who show exceptional skill, innovation, and effectiveness in promoting education for nurses. This year’s winner was Brittany Johnson, RN, from Clinical Education. As a Curriculum Development Specialist, she focuses on the clinical requirements new licensed and unlicensed employees need to begin working at UAMS. She also leads the Transition to Practice and Preceptor Workshop Programs, promoting and encouraging personal and professional development, cultivating critical-thinking skills, improving job satisfaction, and increasing retention of new graduate nurses by equipping them with the tools and confidence to overcome the challenges the first year of nursing presents.

The Outstanding Community Service Award, which recognizes the contributions of an individual nurse, both professionally and /or voluntarily, for continuous service activities performed based on the needs of the community, was presented to Donna Malone, RN, from the Care Management Department.  She leads the department’s community service efforts, which this year included providing care packages for more than 200 nursing home residents, toys, food and care items for shelter animals and meals for the homeless community. She also provides welcome baskets for new members of the department.

Deborah Johnson, RN, senior director of the Cancer Service Line, was honored as this year’s recipient of the Betty Casali Transformational Leadership Award, which honors specific qualities that resulted in empowering/encouraging others to achieve a positive outcome. Under her leadership, the Cancer Institute nursing team moved two infusion centers and several oncology clinics, worked though the pandemic to safely care for patients and staff and met weekly to discuss hot topics, and celebrate accomplishments.

Four nurses who died in the past year were also honored at the ceremony.  Mary Johanna Wankum, 73, passed away on Sept. 4, 2021. She worked in the UAMS Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for more than 35 years.. Sheryl Peters, 54, died April 18, 2021.  She served as a patient services coordinator in Medical Records. Becky Sue Culver, 59, died on Feb. 8, 2022. She had 40 years of nursing experience and most recently worked in the Emergency Medicine Service Line. Alanda Leavy, 52, died on Jan. 10, 2022. She was an RN case manager at UAMS.

Susan Erickson chaired the Nurses Rock Committee and planned the week’s activities along with committee members Cathy Buzbee, Ava Coleman, Tammy Drake, Stephanie Holder, Sou Irani, Chandani Patel, Jean Prince, Becky Sartini, Rebekah Thacker and Melissa Tillman.

Members of the Nurses Rock Committee help on May 5 to kick-off Nurses Week at UAMS.

Members of the Nurses Rock Committee help on May 5 to kick-off Nurses Week at UAMS.Evan Lewis