The RNAO Award of Merit recognizes registered nurses who have made outstanding contributions to RNAO and to the profession of nursing in Ontario. Winners demonstrate responsibility for professional development, and are exemplary role models and mentors to peers.
Jill Staples is this year’s winner. As president of RNAO’s Kawartha-Victoria Chapter, Staples has recruited a diverse executive membership and promoted RNAO to nurses throughout the community. She also ensures local MPPs are aware of RNAO’s positions on issues and regularly attends the annual Day at Queen’s Park. She also frequently speaks out for continued funding for the Blood Conservation Program, which she is part of as an Ontario Transfusion Coordinator at Peterborough Regional Health Centre. The role provided her with the opportunity to learn about joint replacement surgery, which she embraced as a new challenge after spending much of her career working with newborns at PRHC. RNs who have worked with Staples say her mentorship inspired them to earn their own achievements such as the international lactation consultant certification.
The 2010 Chapter of the Year is Kawartha-Victoria. Beryl Cable-Williams' nomination of the chapter noted that "Organizations that depend on the energy and enthusiasm of volunteers are well known to be at risk of falling out of action, never to return. However, the Kawartha-Victoria Chapter has "emerged from a period of relative inactivity, has recruited new members, and offers a varied program of events of both professional interest and celebration." Kawartha-Victoria stood out as a nominee because of its efforts to stay in contact and engage members in a wide range of events.
The Chapter reached out to recruit new members by distributing membership information at new staff orientation sessions at the local hospital, hosting information booths at Nursing Week events in the hospital, and providing student membership information and ice cream at the local School of Nursing.
The list of events and activities in the chapter this year reflects a huge
amount of time and commitment from the executive team in Kawartha-Victoria,
and has led to the enthusiasm and involvement of a new group of members.
The Honourary Life Membership is conferred on long-standing RNAO members who have made outstanding contributions to nursing practice, education, administration or research at the provincial, national or international levels. This includes activities that promote the association among nursing colleagues, the government and other health-care partners.
Suzanne Finnie has been an RNAO member for 36 years, and has led the association through historic changes. In 1996, she spearheaded the amalgamation of three chapters in east Toronto to create Region 7. She was a member of RNAO’s Board of Directors from 1995 to 1999 and helped shape nursing policy through her work on RNAO’s various committees for resolutions, by-laws and research. Finnie is also one of Canada’s earliest nurse practitioners. She was President of the Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario from 1977 to 1979 and helped to draft the Standards of Practice for Nurse Practitioners. Finnie spent her career – nearly four decades long – caring, teaching and mentoring in family practice and primary care nursing, and truly exemplifies the highest standard of professionalism.
Beverley Simpson has been an RNAO member for 20 years and has made significant contributions to nursing education and practice; many colleagues describe her as one of nursing’s best cheerleaders. She helped develop, and is a key program director for, the Dorothy Wylie Nursing Leadership Institute, which helps shape nursing leaders. Simpson was also instrumental in the re-organization of the Registered Nurses’ Foundation of Ontario. Her efforts in organizing a fundraising system have ensured that registered nurses and nursing students seeking financial support get the chance to further their education. Simpson’s quiet persistence and can-do attitude also helped in her work with the University of Toronto and the College of Nurses of Ontario to create the first acute care nurse practitioner program in Canada.
The RNAO HUB Fellowship, sponsored by RNAO’s home and auto insurance provider, offers recipients the chance to participate in a week-long, one-on-one placement with RNAO Executive Director Doris Grinspun.
As the President of RNAO’s Peel Chapter, Jannine Bolton is a role model and mentor to RNs in the region. She has formed partnerships with nurses, community leaders and other stakeholders, increased RNAO membership, and worked tirelessly to strengthen the nursing voice in the community. She was the lead for the Bridging Health Care Delivery from Hospital to Community initiative for the Mississauga-Halton LHIN and was the co-creator and presenter of a document that provided solutions to health-care delivery in the region when a local hospital closed. Last year, she also worked closely with the Mississauga News to create a Nursing Week supplement. Recently, she helped to organize a screening of the Home Safe Toronto, a documentary that tells the stories of families who are living with homelessness.
The passage of Bill 179 and the announcement of additional nurse practitioner-led clinics this year marks the realization of many of NPAO's political goals. The NPAO has engaged members and leaders who are committed to improved access to safe, effective care for patients. NPAO members are engaged in their interest group's work and hear from their leadership frequently. The NPAO nomination included a detailed list of the many activities undertaken by the group this year. These included action alerts and responses to legislation, involvement by politicians in "Take Your MPP to Work" days, and public awareness of the nurse practitioner role through advertising and media. There were efforts to support members during the RFP process for NP-led clinics, support for NPs writing their exams, research, and support for members engaged in political action. Numerous NPAO members won awards for their efforts and were published in nursing journals.
NPAO shows tremendous commitment to RNAO. The group is the Interest Group of
the Year because it communicates through a variety of media and methods; influences
decision makers and mobilizes RNs for action; and exhibits exemplary teamwork
and strong leadership within the nursing and health-care communities.
The Leadership Award in Nursing Administration honours a member who shows exemplary management skills in an acute, long-term, community, education, research or other setting. This individual actively implements ground-breaking ideas to enhance patient care, and demonstrates a commitment to improve the quality of health care.
This year’s recipient is Liz Janzen, former Senior Nurse for Toronto Public Health and the former head of the Healthy Living/Healthy Communities directorate. Although now officially retired, Janzen’s enthusiasm for health promotion is described by colleagues as “infectious.” Her expertise in public health spanned 30 years, during which time she worked with groups ranging from infants to seniors. Her vision and strength as a leader were instrumental in moving several health promotion initiatives forward such as the Diversity, Access and Equity Strategy. She also coordinated programs that responded to the city’s homeless population, and she led the development and implementation of a comprehensive harm reduction strategy. Dignity and diversity were the key values that described her leadership style. She supported nurses and other staff members to become involved in leadership programs and opportunities.
The RNAO Leadership Award in Nursing Education (Academic) is presented to the RN who excels as a nursing educator in a university or college. The winner enhances the image of nursing by encouraging critical thinking, innovation and debate on nursing issues and acts as a role model and mentor.
Carroll Iwasiw is the winner of this year’s award. A professor at the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing at the University of Western Ontario, Iwasiw has been teaching for three decades. She has also held many leadership roles. She has served as director of nursing at Western, chaired the Council of Ontario University Programs in Nursing and currently heads the accreditation bureau of the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing. She mentors many emerging researchers and graduate students, and has also been active internationally. She has helped develop a program to teach Russian nurses how to care for people with disabilities. She also led the nursing arm of a six-year program to help rebuild health care in Rwanda. In 1999, the World Health Organization recognized Iwasiw as a World Expert in nursing education.
RNAO’s Leadership Award in Nursing Research is presented to a member whose work supports the implementation of innovative and progressive nursing practice that leads to positive patient and nurse outcomes.
Carol McWilliam’s extensive body of research during her 20-year career has improved care for seniors living with chronic diseases. Her passion to advance quality, patient-focused home care has led to many changes in the sector. The South West Community Care Access Centre has adopted her work on evidence-informed practice, leading to flexible, client-driven service delivery. Her research has also influenced practices at other agencies including the Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres and VON Canada. McWilliam is a professor at the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing at the University of Western Ontario. She has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and been a speaker at many forums in Canada and around the world.
Grace Harper is an activist for nursing and for rural health care, and
an active member who can be extremely proud of her efforts and results for nursing.
This member's passion is to mobilize others in her role as the policy and political
action officer for Perth Chapter and as founder of "the Nursing Shortage
and You", a group dedicated to educating the public and decision- makers
about the impact of nursing shortages and health- care cuts on rural areas in
Ontario. This individual's profile as an activist is so high, she was actually
nominated by two different people! Grace Harper has been extremely effective
in getting the word out through newspapers and radio, and hosting numerous well-attended
events, including panel discussions and all-candidates meetings. Grace has built
relationships with allies, hosting guests from not just RNAO, but also RPNAO,
ONA, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, and the Ontario Health Coalition.
Grace's win is testament to her efforts to provide leadership in the area of
RNAO’s President’s Award for Leadership in Clinical Nursing Practice is presented to an RN in a staff nurse position who consistently demonstrates expertise and evidence-based practice in one or more areas of clinical practice.
Sandra Hooper is a nurse practitioner with the City of Ottawa’s Healthy Sexuality Clinic whose commitment to public health encourages leadership, critical thinking and clinical excellence. As an active member of RNAO and NPAO, she provides valuable insight to policy development, both locally and nationally. At the clinic, she supports an expanded nursing role by teaching the theory and overseeing the practical aspects of completing the certification required to perform pelvic examinations. Her work allows registered nurses to provide contraception, Pap smear tests and sexually transmitted infection screening to people without a primary care provider. Hooper is a strong advocate for her patients, particularly street-involved youth and young women.
Maria Tandoc works in the intensive care unit at the Trillium Health Centre where she mentors other critical care nurses and is a preceptor for new staff members. Last year, she decreased ventilatory-associated pneumonia (VAP) rates when she developed and implemented an oral care program in the ICU based on recommendations in RNAO’s best practice guideline on oral health. Tandoc is also very involved in RNAO. She is the membership and workplace liaison for Peel Chapter and the membership officer for the Nursing Research Interest Group. She works with Peel Chapter executive members to plan workplace liaison meetings, develops post cards to invite lapsed members to re-join, and can be found at RNAO events encouraging all RNs to join the association.
The RNAO in the Workplace Award recognizes an Ontario health-care organization for its work to foster involvement of RNs in their professional association, its creation of a climate of professional partnership and quality work life, and its commitment to promoting professional development and research-based practice.
The Sandwich Community Health Centre in Windsor has been selected as this year’s winner. The CHC demonstrates the importance of a quality work environment by ensuring that more than 90 per cent of its RNs are employed full-time. The CHC uses several approaches to create a supportive learning environment for its staff, including a preceptorship program, online learning resources, and regular “lunch and learn” sessions. In April of 2009, it was chosen as a Best Practice Spotlight Organization Candidate, the first CHC to be selected. In the area of research, the CHC has aligned its work on a study evaluating the methods and effectiveness of providing Nicotine Replacement Therapy with implementation of the Integrating Smoking Cessation into Daily Nursing Practice Best Practice Guideline. More than three-quarters of the nurses who work at the CHC belong to RNAO. Staff members are also encouraged to take advantage of various professional opportunities offered by their professional association.
The Student of Distinction Award is given to a nursing student who is a role model for professionalism and contributes to the advancement of RNAO/NSO within her/his nursing program. This student also acts as a resource for other nursing students.
Colleen Wright-Loree graduated from the McMaster-Mohawk-Conestoga nursing program in December. Despite a heavy course load, she found time to mentor students through her part-time work as a facilitator of two peer-supported learning groups at Conestoga. She also worked with 25 students through an initiative known as Nursing Undergraduate Buddy System and offered informal tutoring sessions to those in her Conestoga nursing community who required help. Wright-Loree demonstrated enthusiasm and energy for her professional association by communicating the benefits of RNAO to fellow nursing students. Her interest in nursing research led to her involvement in a practicum where she undertook a systematic literature review of cannabis use. Her work led to the development of a position statement that has been submitted to the Canadian Nursing Student Association for approval. Wright-Loree is currently working in the emergency department at Groves Memorial Community Hospital in Fergus and plans to become an acute care nurse practitioner.