100 Great Iowa Nurses awards highlight our nurses’ exceptional care

The nurses of UI Health Care do a wonderful job providing high quality care for all of their patients, and to prove it, the 2018 list of 100 Great Iowa Nurses highlights 12 of UI Health Care’s nursing specialists. They were selected among nurses from across the state and all honored at a ceremony in Des Moines on Sunday, May 5, kicking off National Nurses Week 2109.

This year’s UI Health Care winners are:

Molly Bauer, ARNP, CPNP, CHPPN, Pediatric Pain and Palliative Care

Patients who are in the direst of circumstances know Molly Bauer for her tender care. She works to creatively identify children’s needs and make sure they are met, all while supporting their family. Molly teaches children coping strategies when they are in chronic pain.

She is a member of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management and is currently enrolled in two different certification courses for aromatherapy and also for auriculotherapy. Bauer was the first person to seek outside funding to adopt aromatherapy—the use of essential oils as an aid for certain conditions—along with the use of Sea Bands for nausea, in addition to medications.

Molly is a role model, teaching through her example how to provide compassionate nursing care to our patients and their families during the most difficult times of their treatment,” her nomination reads.

Amy Bowman, MSN, RN, CCRN, nursing practice leader, Nursing Clinical Education Center

“Her mentorship has been key to a number of improvements in interprofessional practice, improving care for thousands of patients at UI Hospital & Clinics and beyond,” says her nominator.

Amy Bowman is described as a highly effective mentor for many staff nurses on a variety of topics including: reducing risk of C. Difficile transmission, properly positioning patients to relieve severe acute respiratory distress syndrome, and using protective equipment to reduce hospital acquired infection.

Bowman also developed an educational session for the Evidence-Based Practice Staff Nurse Internship to teach nurses how to read specific research. She is currently in the process of publishing and presenting the skill to the larger nursing community.

Heather Eastman, MSN, RN-BC, nursing practice leader, Children’s and Women’s Services, Acute Care Pediatrics

“She never stops learning, is always doing research for best practices, and takes an immense amount of pride in her work, always striving for the best,” her nominator wrote.

Heather Eastman helps educate and develop new practices to provide the nurses need to give the best patient care. Recently, she helped saved a child’s life after they mistakenly consumed a peanut product while having an allergy, and not having an epi-pen near. Eastman quickly grabbed the child and carried him to the ER where he was able to be treated immediately. Her quick actions helped saved the child’s life.

She was also instrumental in developing all of the technology used within the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, then took the time to teach the staff how to use it along with the new equipment in patient rooms.

Rhonda Evans, MSN, RN, BMTCN, OCN, donor coordinator, Cancer Center Support Services Administration

Rhonda Evans is the UI Hospitals & Clinics Adult and Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant program donor coordinator responsible for coordinating donor testings, matching, collection, delivery, and follow-ups. She also continues to contribute extra hours on the Adult Transplant and Cellular Therapy Unit.

“Through Rhonda’s leadership experience and commitment to nursing education, she is consistently encouraging new nurses to attend conferences, and will often times assist with identifying potential funding options,” says her nominator.

Evans collaborated with the DeGowin Blood Center, UI Health Care Information Systems, and other providers to ensure any nursing related processes were addressed and implemented properly.

Lisa Hughes, RN-BC, medical-surgical nursing, 3 RCE

This year alone, Lisa Hughes was nominated for four DAISY Awards for her attentive care. For many years, she has served on the patient education committee advocating for post surgical patients. She also highlights the importance of basic nursing surgical cares including walking, bowel care, and spirometry—a test to evaluate how much air a patient breathes in.

Hughes has obtained one of the first professional recognition program awards on her unit. She also received her specialty certification this year.

“Lisa is viewed as the ‘gold’ standard for nursing care on the unit as one of her peers described her,” her nomination reads. “Her mere presence on the unit sets the tone, a charge nurse recently told me; she makes others step up to the challenge and work their hardest.”

Seth Jackson, BSN, RN, medical ICU/ECMO specialist, Intensive and Specialty Services

“He is an encouraging leader, making him one of the go-to resources on our unit when any nurse, experienced and new graduate alike, needs help,” his nomination reads.

His evidence-based practice project on the spread of C. Difficile inspired the implementation of Tru-D Tuesdays, where a UV light disinfects the storage room every Tuesday.

Jackson is an MICU nurse, but he also works extra hours as a member of the ECMO: Heart and Lung Life Support team and the Special Isolation Unit. For his first three years, he helped Medical Intensive Care Unit nurses understand the importance of frequent skin assessments and pressure injury prevention. Since then, he became an evidence-based practice project mentor, helping nurses navigate projects in order to improve patient care.

Julia Langin, BSN, RN, CMSRN, CWON, clinical coordinator, Adult Wound and Ostomy

As clinical coordinator of the Wound Ostomy Service, Julia Langin leads and coordinates hospital initiatives to maintain low rates of hospital acquired pressure injuries and support operative ostomy care. She leads a team of five certified wound ostomy nurses. In their personal time, Langin and her team help facilitate a community ostomy support group every month.

“Not only does Julia seek to support her nurses, she is actively engaged in providing support to the nurses at the bedside and in the clinic to provide compassionate and thoughtful care for patients, families, and staff,” her nomination reads.

Langin is also an active member of the national and Iowa affiliate of The Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Society where she won a Practice Innovation Merit award for the collaborative work the team has done to reduce skin injuries. This work was also honored at the Association of Operating Room Nurses national meeting with an evidence based practice award.

Paula Ingalls McCue, MA, RN, OCN, pediatric BMT nurse coordinator, Cancer Center Support Services Administration

“Although the care that she provides to patients when she is at work would be enough to nominate for this honor, her work in the community sets her apart,” wrote one of Paula McCue’s nominators.

In 2016, McCue helped lead the initiative to open the Johnson County Bird House, a community-based non-profit home dedicated to providing compassionate, dignified end-of-life care. Bird House focuses on the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of patients and their loved ones in a peaceful, home-like environment. This is the first and only independent residential hospice house in Iowa.

McCue and other members of the board, worked with the state of Iowa to establish Bird House as a registered Iowa Boarding Home. She assisted with fund raising projects and purchasing of the house where the Bird House currently resides. She remains on the Board of Directors and volunteers at the house.

Angela O’Toole, BSN, RN, Main OR Neurosurgery

Angela O’Toole has led the operating room staff nurse council for two years, and completed an extra year to help maintain many of the changes that were occurring. At their monthly meetings, she encourages new ideas and makes suggestions that could improve patient care. She is currently working on a project to help decrease the amount of phone calls and time spent on obtaining medications needed for specific procedures.

“Angela is a critical and integral member of our neurosurgical nursing team. I have seen her grow into a clear team leader as well as an efficient and respected mentor for newer and less experienced members of our team,” her nomination reads.

In the operating room, O’Toole is praised for reassuring patients before their operations. She is also acknowledged for consistently and effectively following protocol.

Gail Reynolds, DNP, ARNP, PNP, critical care/neonatal ARNP, NICU

Gail Reynolds is praised by her coworkers and patients alike for her compassion towards families dealing with the difficulties that come with working with sick neonates.

One of her patients explained that without prompting, Reynolds sat with her on a couch, gave her a hug, and cried with her. The nominator noted that she felt comforted and grateful to have such a caring nurse.

Along with patients, her coworkers admire Reynolds for her consistent empathetic nature within such a stressful atmosphere, and her ability to sense and identify the emotions of the families of these babies.

“I don’t know of a more important role in the hospital than caring for sick neonates. These are one of the most vulnerable populations housed in the hospital, and Gail does this with grace, professionalism, and ease,” her nomination reads.

Erin Springer, MSN, RN, adult neuromuscular disorders, Neurology Outpatient Clinic

As the population of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients grew within the hospital, Erin Springer developed a strong partnership with patient advocacy groups such as the ALS Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the university to put together a multidisciplinary outreach clinic in Des Moines specifically for ALS patients that could not travel the distance to Iowa City. Her leadership skills allowed the clinic to develop, but also earned her a position on the Iowa ALS Association Board of Directors.

Springer has also been an invited speaker to different groups about the care of patients with ALS.

“For the people of Iowa, her efforts have truly changed the way patients with ALS are cared for and improved the quality of life for them and their loved ones,” her nomination reads.

Janis Tener, BSN, RN, CDN, interim nurse manager, Dialysis

Janis Tener has worked for the UI Dialysis Program as the single nurse in the their first outreach unit years ago until it was approved by the state. She became nurse manager after she was asked to manage the entire program.

“She is a wonderful example of how a nursing leader should behave. She is fair to all. She takes everything into consideration, and accepts criticism from her staff engaging in productive dialogue to try and remedy things,” her nomination reads.

She stepped into the role as the interim manager at a difficult time, yet she ensured that staffing was maintained and regulations were followed, so patients continued to receive excellent care.


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