California Nurses Honored for Excellence

2014 GEM regional award winners announced’s annual Giving Excellence Meaning (GEM) awards recognize exceptional nurses in six different categories. Writing in on July 14, Janice Petrella Lynch, RN, MSN, introduced this year’s regional winners.

Clinical Nursing, Inpatient

Linda W. Ritter, RN, CPON: Clinical nurse IV, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Palo Alto, Calif.

Ritter knew from personal experience how difficult palliative care was, and how unprepared most nurses felt to provide it. So she spearheaded a range of projects and programs in order to help staff provide compassionate care for patients nearing the end of life, including creating retreat rooms, planning conferences, revising policies, and honoring more than 100 individuals with Starfish Awards.

Advancing and Leading the Profession

Bernice L. Coleman, RN, PhD, ACNP-BC, FAHA, FAAN: Nurse scientist, nurse practitioner, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, Calif.

Coleman was praised for her unique ability to integrate science research questions with clinical practice and community education. She is credited with influencing both heart transplantation and pharmacogenetics through her pioneering work in pharmacogenetics and genetically tailored medication prescriptions.

Education and Mentorship

Sandra Pieschel, RN-CDE, MPA, BSW: Diabetes educator, Valley Presbyterian Hospital, Van Nuys, Calif.

Pieschel is called a “beacon of hope” in the world of inpatient diabetes management. She was honored for her work in helping staff understand the multiple needs of patients with diabetes, developing processes and tools and educational programs that have ultimately improved patient care and outcomes.

Home, Community, and Ambulatory Care

Donna J. Beckman, RN, BSN: Credentialed School Nurse, Coordinator of health services, special education, San Joaquin County Office of Education, Stockton, Calif.

Beckman provides care and case management to more than 350 special education students and their families, and collaborates with a local dentist to conduct oral health screenings for developmentally disabled kindergarten students. But she “is most proud of the nursing care she has given in the quiet moments no one can see — sitting with dying patients, holding their hand and praying over their passing, working with families through difficult times and supporting them and caring for dying patients at home.”

Patient and Staff Management

Teri Armour-Burton, RN, MSN, MBA, CNML, NE-BC: Nurse manager, Sharp Grossmont Hospital, La Mesa, Calif.

“Find your niche in nursing because there are so many different options,” says Armour-Burton. “Once you do that, stay current, pursue the appropriate advanced degrees and never stop learning.” Armour-Burton is proof positive of that approach as she manages an award-winning Progressive Care Unit and pursues a PhD. She has also inspired at least 25% of her nursing staff to pursue advanced degrees as well.

Volunteerism and Service

Linda E. West-Conforti, RN, Registered nurse, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Jay, Calif.

Seven years ago, West-Conforti created Angels In Waiting, a nonprofit organization that gives RNs skilled in neonatal and pediatric intensive care the opportunity to work at home and care for medically fragile foster care infants and children. The program helps to move these young patients from institutional or at-risk settings into private residences and under the care of experienced RNs and LPNs.

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