Celebrating excellence

Five nurses receive top awards

CLPNM President Christy Froese with Educator Award winner Jamie Evancio.
CLPNM President Christy Froese with Educator Award winner Jamie Evancio.

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Tuesday, July 24, 2012

They all hail from different practice settings: medicine, dialysis, the emergency department, health-care leadership and education.

But they all have two things in common: They are all nurses, and they have all been recognized for having a positive impact on care within the Winnipeg Health Region.

The five nurses - Jenny Savage, Kristy Rennie, June Gray, Jo Williams and Jamie Evancio - were honoured June 4 during a presentation at the annual general meeting of the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Manitoba (CLPNM) in Brandon. Here is a brief overview of the award winners.

New Graduate Award
Jenny Savage, LPN
It's been quite a year for Savage, who graduated in May 2011. Along with transitioning from student to practicing nurse, she was recognized with the New Graduate Award.

Savage's clinical instructors describe her as having strong clinical knowledge while being very caring for someone so young. Her focus, dedication, eagerness and strong work ethic as a student are qualities that she's taken with her into her role as a practicing nurse. They're also part of the reason she received the award.

It's quite an honour for Savage. "It was really exciting for me. Some nurses never get an award. Just to be in a room with so many great nurses, it was exciting," she says.

She did her practicum on the acute medicine floor at the Grace Hospital, where she currently works. It a good fit for Savage, whose bubbly, friendly personality helps her get along well with patients and co-workers.

Michelle Prange, her Clinical Manager, agrees: "Jenny is a great nurse working to full scope. She is conscientious and has a solid foundation of knowledge which she draws on with gusto. Jenny is well liked by her colleagues and her clients alike."

What's next? She says, "I want to go back to school for my BN, to keep upgrading, learning and improving myself."

Nursing Practice Award
Kristy Rennie, LPN

Kristy Rennie didn't think she'd end up working in emergency medicine after doing her senior practicum in the Health Sciences Centre endoscopy unit, but she did. And for that, she has a colleague to thank.

Rennie was an involved student who contributed to group activities and fundraising for her class graduation. She entered each clinical experience with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.

"I worked with a nurse who suggested I apply for a position that came up in emergency medicine. I had just graduated and it was a fast paced environment. Initially I said no," she says. "But I did apply and I'm glad she pushed me to."

For the past two and a half years, every day offers Rennie the chance to learn. "I love the work and the fact that I can learn so much on any given day," she says. "It's a teaching hospital. Everyone is more than willing to explain why they're doing what they're doing… which is great, I have a ton of questions."

Since graduating in 2010, Rennie has also been a Practice Auditor with CLPNM. In this role, she performed several audits and demonstrated her outstanding ability to apply her knowledge of practice in all practice areas.

The pace, the people, the environment and the work in Health Science Centre's emergency department all create a fulfilling work experience for her. Receiving the Nursing Practice Award is an affirmation of sorts for Rennie. It shows her that she's on the right track.

Mentor/Preceptor Award
Jo Williams, LPN

It was over 20 years into her nursing career as an LPN that Jo Williams found a niche in dialysis. After working in medicine, surgery and in hematology/oncology in a clinic setting, the experience was a scary one at first, to be learning so many new things.

It was a very different environment, for one. And through regular appointments for dialysis, getting to know patients and families over time is inevitable. It's what appealed to Williams.

Two years into the adventure, she was asked to mentor a student. "There are only a handful of us who have been here for a long time and they want people with experience," she says, noting she's continued mentoring and precepting ever since.

She spends three and a half weeks with students and focuses on encouraging students to build their independence and comfort within the dialysis environment. Students who were much like she was. "I'm teaching nurses who have nursed for 20, 25 years. It's old nurses learning new tricks," she chuckles. "I want to make that transition easier for those coming into a new job."

With patient safety as a priority, one important lesson she imparts in her preceptoring time is that dialysis is about more than machines and hooking people up. It's about the patient feeling well and having a good treatment. "Everyone wants to be fast but quality of care is number one. It's the first and last thing I tell them. Slow, good care is better," she says.

Renal health has a Collaborative Care focus, with a number of health professionals - doctors, social workers, dietitians, pharmacists and more - contributing to an individual's health and wellness. Learning to communicate with other health providers is a skill that Williams feels is important for her students to learn. "It's all part of offering nursing care in dialysis," she says.

Being recognized with the Mentor/Preceptor Award has great meaning for Williams, even if she admits it did come as a bit of a shock. "It's totally awesome to get an award for something you do every single day," she says. "I'm doing what I love. Dialysis is the best thing that happened to me in my career. It's been wonderful."

Leadership Award
June Gray, LPN

In her 43 year career as a licensed practical nurse, June Gray has pursued some pretty exciting opportunities. Along with working in acute care, hemodialysis, community care and neurosurgery, for the past fifteen years she worked in health care administration for the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Medicine, Revera Home Health Services (as both the branch executive director and then regional director western Canada) and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Now retired, when Gray looks back on her career, she realizes extra training like an advanced certificate in gerontology and a human resources development program combined with her licensed practical nursing training opened many doors for her. "I grew and developed. I enjoyed the challenges of many different kinds of work. I had a wealth of experience and I really enjoyed it," she says. "My base as a licensed practical nurse for many years working in diverse areas, my combination of education and my opportunities throughout nursing have really helped me provide well-rounded leadership."

Receiving the award was a source of recognition for her over four decades as a licensed practical nurse, the younger nurses she mentored and the contributions she made to health and wellness. "I feel I've been that role model for the profession and inspired others, especially students," she says. "I'm pleased with my career."

But don't expect retirement to slow Gray down. She intends to continue volunteering in health care, sharing what she knows as a member on the board of directors for various care facilities and local and national organizations. "I feel I have a lot to contribute," she says. "I still want to keep abreast of health care as it's ever changing."

Educator Award
Jamie Evancio, RN

Preparing students for expectations when they graduate is one part of Jamie Evancio's role as a Nursing Instructor with Assiniboine Community College.

"I think it's important for students to get a real understanding in nursing school of what's going to be expected of them when they graduate. Nursing is not for everyone - it's a hard job. Sometimes people think they're up for it and it's not what they imagined it would be," she says. "Part of my role is to help students understand the reality of what it's like to be a nurse."

Talking about real life situations and explaining how they can unfold helps students build their problem solving skills. Role modeling standards of care within those real life situations can help create meaningful teachable moments that prepare students for working as a licensed practical nurse. "It helps students understand what is expected of them," she says, noting that showing them is more meaningful than telling them.

Evancio has been teaching nursing since 1989. She loves being an educator and teaching courses in her specialty areas: community health, maternity and pediatrics. Being recognized is satisfying. Things have come full circle for her - teaching what she knows - and she recognizes she owes a lot to her own amazing teachers, mentors and role models over the years. "We don't go to work thinking our work is connected with public recognition," she says, noting she thinks it's special her students nominated her for the award. "The potential to get an award is not what motivates you to do your work - it's something bigger than that."

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