May

Winners of Excellence in Nursing Awards are, from left, Brittany Ransom, Cissy Lee, Alice Chaney Herndon, Lillie McCoy, Jasmine Moore, Michelle Goreth, Sarah Gilbert, Martha Cooley, Neal Loving and Teresa Fink.
Winners of Excellence in Nursing Awards are, from left, Brittany Ransom, Cissy Lee, Alice Chaney Herndon, Lillie McCoy, Jasmine Moore, Michelle Goreth, Sarah Gilbert, Martha Cooley, Neal Loving and Teresa Fink.
Main Content

Annual nursing salute calls out best of the best

Published on Monday, May 14, 2018

Media Contact: Ruth Cummins

It might sound simple, but it’s not: The nurses are the people who care for the patients.

Nurses also have “the heart and the courage to go the extra mile for the patient, and very often, they walk that path alone,” said Dr. Louann Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “They are the one person who didn’t give up on a patient. That made all the difference in the world for that patient.”

Those qualities and more are exemplified through honorees in this year’s Excellence in Nursing Awards, presented Thursday in the Norman C. Nelson Student Union. Woodward and others thanked the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s nursing force for members’ service and dedication to patients, often at great personal sacrifice.

Nominees for the 10 awards “demonstrate the love, the life and the loyalty of our nursing profession,” said Dr. Tonya Moore, administrator of community health services for UMMC’s Center for Telehealth and the Medical Center’s 2009 Nurse of the Year.

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, speaks during the annual Excellence in Nursing Awards. Looking on is Dr. Tonya Moore, administrator of community health services for UMMC's Center for Telehealth.
Woodward speaks during the annual Excellence in Nursing Awards. Looking on is Moore.

Woodward, whose medical career was spent in emergency medicine, shared her experiences with nurses dating back to when she began her journey to becoming a physician and faculty member. “When I was a medical student, the nurses were very scary. They knew everything,” she said.

“When I was an intern, nurses were the lifesavers,” she said “When I was a resident, nurses made the machine work.

“It’s something you become. It’s not a job,” Woodward said of the nursing profession. “You are the heart of the delivery of patient care.”

Among the award-winners was Martha Cooley, a retired nurse who spent more than 20 years on staff at UMMC Grenada. Cooley received the Medical Center’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award for nursing.

Martha Cooley, right, who retired from UMMC Grenada after more than six decades as a nurse, received UMMC's Lifetime Achievement Award in nursing. With her is Terri Gillespie, chief nursing executive officer.
Martha Cooley, right, who retired from UMMC Grenada after more than six decades as a nurse, received UMMC's Lifetime Achievement Award in nursing. With her is Terri Gillespie, chief nursing executive officer.

“She’s never owned anything but a white uniform,” Terri Gillespie, UMMC chief nursing executive officer, said of Cooley, who attended nursing school in Grenada and began her nursing career in 1951. “When she became a nurse, CPR had yet to be invented. People didn’t wear gloves. The polio vaccine had yet to be invented.”

Cooley, in her final years of nursing, mastered and embraced Epic, the Medical Center’s electronic health records system, Gillespie said. “She has never made a medication error,” Gillespie said. “I can think of no one who better exemplifies our trusted and honored profession.”

The nursing accolades are given in conjunction with National Nurses Week, observed this year May 6-12. Winners in each category advance to the Nightingale Awards competition presented by the Mississippi Nurses Association and the Mississippi Nurses Foundation. They are:

  • Advanced Practice Nurse of the Year – Michelle Goreth
  • Inpatient Clinical Practice Nurse of the Year – Sarah Gilbert
  • Nurse Educator of the Year – Brittany Ransom
  • Nurse Manager of the Year – Cissy Lee
  • Nurse Mentor of the Year – Jasmine Moore
  • Nurse in Non-Traditional Setting of the Year – Teresa Fink
  • Nurse Rookie of the Year – Lillie McCoy
  • Nurse of Distinction – Neal Loving
  • Nurse Team of the Year – Mother-Baby Unit