National Magnet Nurse of the Year™ 2012 award winners

national magnet nurse of the year nancy tomczak linda ronbinson melanie simpson kathy sheehy joanna emmons

The National Magnet Nurse of the Year™ awards from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) recognize the outstanding contributions of clinical nurses in each of the five Magnet Model components—transformational leadership; structural empowerment; exemplary professional practice; new knowledge, innovations, and improvements; and empirical outcomes. The 2012 award winners were recognized at ANCC’s National Magnet Conference in Los Angeles on October 10, 2012.


Transformational Leadership

Nancy Tomczak, BSN, RN, OCN

Clinical Nurse Resource, Inpatient Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Unit

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston

Nancy Tomczak, a certified oncology nurse, epitomizes the characteristics of a transformational leader through her role as chair of the Nursing Practice Congress (NPC), a shared-governance model at MD Anderson. During her tenure, she participated in revolutionizing the NPC by engaging in the first election of multidisciplinary congressional members. The transformation resulted in increased engagement of interdisciplinary staff and a global vision for decompartmentalizing clinical issues to achieve workable multidisciplinary solutions. Nancy embodies and appreciates both the art and science of nursing practice, devoting equal attention to research and evidence-based practice, mentoring and advocacy for nurses, and a commitment to evolving patient care to the highest standard. Her contributions to nursing research on her clinical unit resulted in a grant-funded incentivized physical activity program that engages both patients and staff. Nancy received the Ethel Fleming Arceneaux Outstanding Nurse-Oncologist award in 2011—the highest honor an MD Anderson nurse can receive—with an emphasis on delivery of hands-on care and excellence in daily contact with patients in the clinical setting.

Structural Empowerment

Linda F. Robinson, BSN, RN, CEN, CFN

Emergency Department Staff Nurse/Charge Nurse

St. Elizabeth Healthcare, Covington, Kentucky


Linda F. Robinson is an emergency department (ED) nurse whose passionate mission against workplace violence has endeared her to emergency nurses at the local, state, and national levels. Her quest for a safer workplace began with her involvement in the Emergency Nurses Association’s Workplace Violence Work Team and led to her role as an expert adviser for a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health grant for an ED workplace violence interventional study through the University of Cincinnati. On realizing it was a felony in Kentucky to assault a paramedic, teacher, or bus driver but not an ED worker, Linda convinced Kentucky State Senator John Schickel to introduce legislation that allows local police to remove and arrest anyone who assaults an ED worker. She testified before the Kentucky Senate Judiciary Committee and the Kentucky House of Representatives, where the bill subsequently passed on a unanimous vote. The governor of Kentucky signed the bill on April 11, 2012. Linda is an inspiration for clinical nurses to identify a problem, take action, and champion significant change on a broad scale. She holds national certification in emergency and forensic nursing and is a frequent presenter on the topic of workplace violence.

Exemplary Professional Practice

Melanie H. Simpson, PhD, RN-BC, OCN, CHPN

Team Coordinator, Pain Management Resource Team

The University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City

Described as an innovator by colleagues, Melanie Simpson has dedicated her nursing career to pain prevention and alleviation. As team coordinator for the Pain Management Resource Team (PMRT), a group of certified pain management nurses who provide consultation, education, and follow-up for patients with complex pain management needs, she incorporates evidence-based pain management strategies into practice. PMRT members meet with patients, identify risk factors, and collaborate to provide individualized treatment plans. Melanie founded the Coalition for Comprehensive Pain Management at the University of Kansas Hospital. This group of dedicated healthcare professionals from the hospital, university, and schools of medicine, nursing, and health professions convenes quarterly to discuss the latest research and new knowledge in order to enhance their ability to prevent and treat pain. Melanie completed her doctoral studies in health administration at Warren National University in 2008 and holds national certifications in pain management, oncology, and hospice and palliative care nursing. Described as a role model of professionalism by her peers, Melanie uses her breadth of clinical knowledge and commitment to patient care in leading healthcare professionals to greater knowledge and insight into the understanding of evidence-based pain management.

New Knowledge, Innovations, and Improvements

Kathy Ann Sheehy, MSN, APRN, PCNS-BC

Clinical Nurse Specialist, Department of Pain Medicine

Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, D.C.

Kathy Ann Sheehy, a certified pediatric clinical nurse specialist, responded to the needs of a young patient experiencing intractable pain, side effects, and opioid-induced hyperalgesia by advocating for the use of dexmedetomidine as a treatment for fatigue, insomnia, and pain. Because this drug was restricted to critical care units, it was discontinued when the child was transferred to acute care. As a result, the child suffered hours of intractable pain before her death. A strong advocate for patient- and family-centered care, Kathy worked with parents, physicians, and the nursing professional practice council to develop a new protocol. She successfully incorporated the triad of multidisciplinary collaboration, health policy, and the board of nursing for development of a comprehensive protocol for safe use of dex­medetomidine for pain and symptom management at the end of life outside the critical care setting. The protocol allows children and families to choose the setting within the hospital for end-of-life care without compromising safe, effective pain and symptom management while protecting the RN’s legal scope of practice. Kathy led presentation of the protocol at the District of Columbia Board of Nursing, where the protocol was accepted in April 2011. Kathy is a co-investigator on a collaborative with the University of Wisconsin and the International Council of Nurses on the development of an International Classification for Nursing Practice Catalogue on Pain Management for the Pediatric Population.

Empirical Outcomes

Joanna L. Emmons, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, CCNS, CCRN

Clinical Nurse Specialist, Critical Care, Adult Health (Intensive Patient Care Provider in the Medical ICU/Surgical Trauma ICU), and ICU Clinical Nurse Specialist

St. Mary’s Health System, Evansville, Indiana

Joanna L. Emmons defined her new role by advocating for and piloting a joint position as an intensive patient care provider with the medical ICU and the surgical/trauma ICU physicians and as a certified critical care clinical nurse specialist. Although her expertise in ICU nursing made her a phenomenal resource for colleagues, she wanted to remain at the bedside. Joanna championed excellence in empirical outcomes by establishing a “preflight” checklist for ICU nurses that reduced catheter-associated urinary tract infections to levels well below national benchmarks; by leading an evidence-based project for “early warning scoring” throughout St. Mary’s Health System that achieved a 40% reduction in “code blue” events outside critical care units and a 20% increase in calls to the rapid response team; by leading an evidence-based practice project that resulted in a 67% reduction in central line–associated bloodstream infections; and by leading a cost-saving initiative with peripheral I.V. saline locks that resulted in annual savings of more than $1 million by the Ascension Health System of 67 acute-care hospitals. In her role on the Ascension Health Team, Joanna serves as an administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Partnership for Patients grant, which seeks to reduce hospital-acquired infections by 40%.

Christina L. Dobson is assistant director of program development for the Magnet Recognition Program of the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

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