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Nurses work tirelessly at all levels in healthcare, in both clinical and administrative capacities. There are nearly 2.7 million registered nurses in the United States, and 2.2 million of them are actively employed. Despite their constant presence in the healthcare setting and invaluable contributions to patient care, their efforts are sometimes under appreciated, their skills and compassion often taken for granted. At Cleveland Clinic, we strive daily to continue our legacy for top quality nursing, as well as make every effort to acknowledge those who excel in helping us meet that goal.


Across Cleveland Clinic hospitals, nurses are consistently the largest employee group. To recognize their invaluable contribution to patient care, we have a robust group of awards honoring those within our institution.

2014 Nominations Open

2013 Nursing Excellence Awards Show

Do you know a nurse who:

  • Courageously inspires hope & touches the human spirit?
  • Exemplifies the highest standards of quality & patient safety?
  • Dedicates a career to exceptional patient care, mentoring or evidence-based practice?
  • Collaborates to promote teamwork & quality outcomes?

Submit your Nomination today!
Due Monday, February 3, 2014.

2013 Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

Pam Alessandro, BSN, RN»

Pam Alessandro
Marymount Hospital
Congestive Heart Failure Clinic

“My grandfather died from his second heart attack when I was a freshman in high school. From that time, I always knew I wanted to be a nurse. I wasn’t sure I wanted to work with heart patients, but my first job was on a 31-bed telemetry step-down unit. Heart disease is prevalent in my father’s family, and I found myself focusing on heart disease, prevention and a healthy lifestyle. I have been a staff nurse at Marymount’s Congestive Heart Failure Clinic since it opened in 2003. I took care of the very first patient enrolled in the outpatient program. The best part of my job is really getting to know our patients to help them take better care of themselves. Our patients are a very special group that is like family.”

Jacquelyn Baker, MSN, MHA, RN»

Jacquelyn Baker
Euclid Hospital
Nursing Administration

“My cousin and I grew up like sisters. Upon graduating from college as a teacher, she worked in the poorest part of Texas to make a difference for children. She passed away when she was 40, but she inspired me to help others. That’s what nurses do. The best part of my job as director of acute care nursing is the daily interaction with patients and staff. I love being a nurse at Euclid Hospital! The departments all work together to do what’s needed to serve our patients in the best possible way. I truly feel blessed that my career has led me to Euclid Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic health system because I have room to grow and use my talents."

Mary Lou Boyer, BSEd, RN, ET, CWOCN»

Mary Lou Boyer
Cleveland Clinic Florida
Colorectal Surgery

“From the time I was a child, I wanted to be a teacher. I taught elementary school for five years. After an extensive illness and hospitalization, I realized a desire to work with ostomy patients. My nursing career started in 1983. For the past 17 years, I’ve worked at Cleveland Clinic Florida as a wound ostomy continence (WOC) nurse specialist alongside top colorectal surgeons. It is very rewarding seeing patients go from fearful to accepting and leading active, productive lives with an ostomy. Over the years, I’ve also been privileged to serve as a preceptor for WOC nursing students, present as part of the core curriculum for the Cleveland Clinic Florida Colorectal Surgery Resident/Fellowship program, and present at regional and national conferences. Working at Cleveland Clinic Florida has allowed me to pursue my original desire to teach as well as provide a forum for professional growth.”

Laurie Ellis, MSN, RN, CNP»

Laurie Ellis
Lakewood Hospital
Case Management

“I started my career at Cleveland Clinic working at main campus as a student nurse between my junior and senior years of college. After graduation, I worked on a hematology-oncology unit for three years until I got married and traveled with my husband, who was in the Air Force. We returned in 2002, and I got a job in the emergency room at Lakewood Hospital. I was certified as a nurse practitioner in 2011 and landed my current job — a brand new position. I enjoy teaching patients about their discharge plans and making sure they understand what to do after they leave the hospital. I love helping the nursing staff to ensure we take great care of patients."

Deborah G. Klein, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, CCRN, CHFN, FAHA»

Deborah G. Klein
Main Campus
Heart & Vascular Institute

“I began my career at Cleveland Clinic as a staff nurse in the cardiovascular ICU in 1979. Clinical Nurse Specialist Gayle Whitman, MSN, RN, was a mentor to me in the 1980s. She encouraged me to become a clinical nurse specialist and earn my MSN. After working at another hospital, I came back to Cleveland Clinic in 2000 as a CNS in the coronary ICU and heart failure ICU. In 2009, I also assumed responsibility for cardiac short stay, the post anesthesia care unit and the cardiac accelerated recovery unit. What I enjoy most is making a difference in patients’ and nurses’ lives. Sometimes it’s a simple touch and eye contact with a patient who is worried about a new diagnosis or upcoming procedure. Sometimes it’s watching a nurse you have mentored demonstrate critical thinking skills that facilitate immediate action and prevent a possible negative event."

Linda J. Lewicki, PhD, RN»

Linda Lewicki
Main Campus
Institutional Review Board

“Thirty-five of my 39 years as a professional nurse have been practiced at Cleveland Clinic. My experience here has allowed full expression of all aspects of the professional nursing role – clinician, administrator, researcher and educator. Presently, as vice chair of the Institutional Review Board and senior nurse researcher in the office, I work daily with research nurses and study coordinators to ensure protection of our research subjects. Through the years, I’ve worked with wonderful people. Three former chief nursing officers — Sharon Danielson, Sharon Coulter and Shawn Ulreich — all established a culture for professional nursing practice at Cleveland Clinic that led to our earning Magnet recognition for nursing excellence. I was fortunate to work alongside these ladies and learn from them."

Gay Pawlak, BSN, RNBC»

Gay Pawlak
Marymount Hospital
Orthopedic and Post-surgical Units

"I began working at an industrial rubber company in high school as a receptionist, then progressed to inside sales. After 10 years, I went back to school and obtained my RN degree. I applied to one hospital — Marymount — and have been working here ever since. For the past nine years, I’ve worked as a clinical orthopedic nurse. The best part of my job is knowing I help patients and their families during difficult times. I enjoy providing compassionate care to people I may never see again, but have made an impact in their care and recovery. My mother has been my role model. She taught me courage, confidence and the importance of a strong will to succeed."

Susie Schenk-DelCalzo, MSN, RN»

Susie Schenk-DelCalzo
Hillcrest Hospital
Labor & Delivery/High Risk Antepartum Unit

“My parents, Henry and Eleanore Schenk, had a big influence on my life. My mom was an RN and encouraged me to go into nursing. Both my parents had a strong work ethic and taught me to never ask anyone to do work that you weren’t willing to try to do yourself. I’ve been a nurse for 37 years and now work as clinical nurse manager in labor and delivery. We get to help new life into this world every day. The thrill of seeing women and their partners becoming parents — and helping those who have a pregnancy loss — is very moving. As a nursing leader, it is gratifying to coach and support nurses through their careers. I love nursing, my job and my staff. I am so proud to be a nurse! I can’t imagine doing anything else."

Kathleen A. Singleton, MSN, RN, CNS, CMSRN»

Kathleen A. Singleton
Fairview Hospital
Medical-Surgical Nursing Service

“A former roommate encouraged me to come to Cleveland Clinic in 1973 because it was a great place to work. I began working with open heart surgery patients. I joined Fairview Hospital in 1993 and have been a medical-surgical clinical nurse specialist ever since. Working with patients, nurses and processes to achieve excellence and advance the practice of medical-surgical nursing gives me the best job at Cleveland Clinic. I am awestruck watching fellow nurses keep the same level of passion, expertise, energy and scrutiny as the extraordinary becomes the ordinary time and time again. While a Lifetime Achievement Award sparks a look back in time, the choice to join the Cleveland Clinic Nursing Institute would be the right choice for me every time!”

Kathleen L. Smith, RNC»

Kathleen L. Smith
Main Campus
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

“I’ve been a nurse for 38 years, 17 of them as a staff nurse in birthing services. My father was a physicist, and he encouraged my interest in science. I am working with the Innovation Department to develop better equipment to adapt to the needs of the neonatal intensive care unit. Making a positive lifelong impact on families in the NICU is truly motivating. A mother called the other day to thank me for rocking her baby back to sleep when she had to return home to work and care for her other children. She was trepidacious about leaving her fragile infant. In a place where monitors are beeping and machines support her child’s life, I gave her peace of mind. This makes the difficulties of being a neonatal ICU nurse melt away."

Laura B. Thompson, RN»

Laura B. Thompson
Lutheran Hospital
Operating Room

“I have been a nurse for 33 years. My mother talked me into becoming a nurse. She died six months after I graduated from Cuyahoga Community College in 1980. I spent four years as a staff nurse in the operating room at another local hospital, then worked exclusively with a plastic surgeon on a craniofacial team for two years before joining Lutheran in 1986 as a staff OR nurse. The best part of my job is simple — helping patients feel better.”

Dorothy Van Poppel Ray, MSN, MSEd, RNC»

Dorothy Van Poppel Ray
Hillcrest Hospital
Family Maternity Center

“I have been a staff nurse with several local hospitals for 55 years, joining Hillcrest in 2011. I helped start the School of Nursing at Kent State University and taught there for 47 years. The Grey Nuns from Montreal were my mentors with my first nursing education. They began the process of transforming my head, heart and soul to that of a nurse. I learned from them that nursing is not what you do, but how you are alive in the world. Nursing is sacred ground. Every patient teaches me about the important things in life as well as how to be a better caretaker. Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to continually learn. Cleveland Clinic is the best place to start a career and end a career."

Previous Winners»


More Awards

National Nurses’ Week »

During National Nurses’ Week, the Cleveland Clinic honors and recognizes its more than 11,000 nurses who work in the hospital units and ambulatory clinics. A central feature of Nurses Week at Cleveland Clinic is the presentation of annual excellence awards, given each year to select nursing, clinical and administrative personnel whose efforts exemplify the ideals and goals of nursing. Each award is named for a Cleveland Clinic nursing employee who in her career here exemplified the ideals and objectives of the nursing profession.

It is with great pleasure that we announce the winners of the excellence awards. This tradition is one that celebrates and recognizes the work and talents of the finest clinical leaders among us. Though we appreciate all the efforts of each and every caregiver throughout the year, this special time offers us the chance to single out those individuals who have made outstanding contributions. Let us congratulate these winners for their ongoing dedication to their profession.

Nursing Research Fund Award »

The Purpose of the Nursing Research Fund (NURF) Award is to help Cleveland Clinic nurses, especially those providing clinical nursing services, conduct nursing research that promotes evidence-based nursing and management practices that lead to quality patient outcomes, enhanced nursing processes, and professional development.

Monies in the Fund are provided by patients and their families in recognition of nursing care received during hospitalizations. Additional contributions to the Fund are made from private donations and honorariums from nursing staff members for presentations and other professional work done in conjunction with their staff role.

Awards up to a maximum of $2,500/each aid registered nurses in conducting research and can be used to provide time to collect data, offset costs of supplies and equipment and statistical analysis, or to travel to a meeting to present findings. It is expected that research results will be shared within the Division of Nursing and to other departments, as appropriate and that generalizable results will be translated into nursing practice. A maximum of $15,000 in awards are presented annually.

Cleveland Clinic has a national reputation as a top hospital and our nurses play a vital role in this success. We are proud to present those nurses who have received national recognition for their contribution to our model of world-class care.

2013 National Award Winners»

Beth M. Faiman, PhDc MSN CNP AOCN, was named the recipient of the 2013 ONS Commendation for Outstanding Achievement for Oncology Nursing Education or Patient/Family Education Award.

2012 National Award Winners»

Nancy M. Albert, PhD, CCNS, CHFN, CCRN, NE-BC, FAHA, FCCM, Senior Director, Nursing Research and Innovation CNS, Kaufman Center for Heart Failure, was named the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) 2013 Distinguished Research Lecturer in recognition her program of research that significantly influences high acuity and critical care.

Meredith Lahl, MSN, PCNS-BC, PNP-BC, CPON, Senior Director, Advanced Practice Nursing, was awarded the 2012 Jean Fergusson Excellence in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nursing Practice Award.  This award is given each year to recognize an Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses APHON member for compassion and expertise in clinical nursing practice and for actively incorporating research and new ideas into clinical practice.

Nancy M. Albert, PhD, CCNS, CHFN, CCRN, NE-BC, FAHA, FCCM, Senior Director, Nursing Research and Innovation CNS, Kaufman Center for Heart Failure, was awarded the Sue B. Davidson Service Award. 

Beth Faiman, PhDc, MSN, APRN-BC, AOCN, Nurse Practitioner, Taussig Cancer Institute, received the 2012 Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Excellence in Medical Oncology Award for her accomplishments in advancing nursing knowledge with the field of hematology and medical oncology.

Kelly Cherni, BSN, RN, OCN, Nurse Coordinator for Bone Marrow Transplant, received the Josh Gottheil Bone Marrow Transplant Career Development Award from the Oncology Nursing Society.

Tina S. Resser, MSN, ACNP-BC, FNP-BC, CNRN, Nurse Practitioner for the Neurological Intensive Care Unit, received 2011 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN) Excellence in Clinical Practice Award for recognition of her excellent clinical care.

Chad Hollis MSN, BSN, RN received the Clinical Excellence in Vascular Nursing Award from the Society of Vascular Nursing for his exceptional clinical skills and direct patient care delivery.

Scott Arkwright, BSN, RN, CNOR, RNFA, Registered Nurse First Assist, received the Outstanding Orthopedic Nurse Practice Award from National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses (NAON) for his contribution to providing high quality health care to the orthopaedic patient and his outstanding contributions to the field of orthopaedic nursing.

Esther Bernhofer, PhD, RN-BC, Nursing Education Specialist for Pain Management, received the 2012 American Society for Pain Management Nursing (ASPMN) Clinical Practice Award in recognition of her many achievements in pain management practice.

K. Kelly Hancock, MSN, RN, NEC-BC, Executive Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Nursing Officer for Main Campus, received the 2012 American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) Circle of Excellence Award.

Laura S. Wood, MSN, RN, OCN, Renal Cancer Research Coordinator for Taussig Cancer Institute,  received the 2012 Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Clinical Lectureship Award for her excellence in clinical nursing practice.

Marie A. Namey, MSN, RN, CNS, MSCCN, Clinical Nurse Specialist for the Neurological Institute's Mellen Center, won the 2011 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN) Excellence in Advanced Practice Nursing Award in recognition of her excellence in nursing care and promoting neuroscience nursing.

Previous Winners»

Learn about more of our previous year's national award winners.

View list of awards and recognitions.

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