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March of Dimes Honors Outstanding Middle Tennessee Nurses at Annual Gala

More than 130 Middle Tennessee nurses were nominated for the annual March of Dimes Nurse of the Year awards. Honorees were chosen in 16 categories.

Publisher's Note Nashville Medical News is honored to serve as media sponsor for the annual March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Awards. We salute the winners and all the nominees for their dedication, compassion and clinical expertise in caring for our community.

Now in it's seventh year, the March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Awards honored outstanding leaders who embody compassion and professional excellence across 16 categories of nursing specialties and education.

"These nurses are very deserving of this honor, and we are pleased to play a role in saluting these patient champions for the care they provide daily," said HCA Vice President of Women and Children's Services Amy Casseri, who served as the event's chairperson.

Top honors were awarded to the 16 nurses from the more than 130 highly accomplished nominees who live out the mission of the March of Dimes to lead efforts that support children and families. WGU Tennessee served as presenting sponsor for the annual gala, which was held in December at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs, and Pediatrix Medical Group was the event's platinum sponsor. More than a dozen other organizations, including Nashville Medical News, also helped sponsor the awards and evening event.

Advanced Practice
Sponsored by Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Susan (Buffy) Krauser Lupear, DNP, CRNA, APN
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

A practicing Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist for more than two decades, Lupear has participated in a number of quality improvement initiatives that have directly impacted both patient care and satisfaction. A researcher and author, Lupear serves as point person for quality and patient advocacy within her field. She has said, "Leaders must lead from their heart, as well as their mind. If a leader does not truly believe in the mission of his or her role, no one else will either." Lupear is widely recognized as someone who leads by example and lives out her mission both professionally and with passion.

Critical Care
Sponsored by Sumner Regional Medical Center
Angela Booker, RN
TriStar Centennial Women's and Children's Hospital

Passionate about the delivery of high quality care, Booker's sunny outlook and professionalism shine through to her patients who have praised her thoroughness and dedication. She exemplifies a positive attitude not only in her work as a nurse but also in her role as a teacher for newborn and high risk level classes and in her volunteer work with Parents for Reaching Out. Perhaps one patient summed it up best, calling Booker "a true blessing."

Leslie Lyons, RN, BSN
TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center

Nominated for providing extraordinary in extraordinary situations, Lyons began working at TriStar StoneCrest in March 2015. Although she didn't originally imagine herself as an ER nurse, Lyons quickly found she loved the fast-paced environment, teamwork and problem-solving skills required to address the different challenges that arise in the ER each day. She believes in the power of a positive attitude and the impact that positivity can have on patients, families, and colleagues. A member of the Fast Track team and unit council, Lyons continually works to improve patient satisfaction and to ensure the policies and processes in place are the most efficient and effective.

General Medicine
Sponsored by NorthCrest Medical Center
Kadie Woltemath, RN, BSN
TriStar Skyline Medical Center

A nursing leader, Woltemath is enthusiastic and passionate about her many roles. She believes nursing is much more than 'just a job' and even more than the outstanding physical care nurses deliver. While skillfully assessing patients and delivering care are critical components, Woltemath finds how nurses make their patients and colleagues feel is also crucial to achieving optimal outcomes. She helps give nurses a voice as co-chair of the Nursing Governance Council and has the opportunity to help implement new policies and processes to improve quality control. Woltemath said she is "blessed beyond words" to be a part of a movement that helps enhance the profession she loves.

Hospice & Palliative Care
Sponsored by Dell Nashville
Jill Nelson, MSN, ANP-BC
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Practicing for more than nine years, Nelson has a true passion for her profession and the work her team does to improve the quality of life for the patients they serve. The first nurse practitioner on the palliative care team, she now helps train and mentor other new nurse practitioners and graduate nursing students with an interest in palliative care. She is also an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Nelson, who is an active member in her national associations, is a founding member of the Middle Tennessee chapter of the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.

Managed Care
Stephanie Holaday, RN, BSN

Involved in numerous projects and collaboratives, Holaday serves as pediatric case management team lead and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) coordinator for Amerigroup. She helped launch the company's NAS program and developed the implementation process and tools for tracking results. Additionally, she has been an active participant in three state pilot programs addressing NAS. Holaday believes in leading by example through her work ethic and ready willingness to welcome input and innovation. She also fosters a sense of ownership among all members of her team to drive outcomes. Holaday is an advocate for involvement and encourages others to be active within the community.

Nursing Administration
Sponsored by WGU Tennessee
Sharon Holley, DNP, CNM, FACNM
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

A faculty member at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, active researcher and contributing author to numerous scholarly papers and books, Holley was inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Nurse-Midwifes last year. A nurse leader, she has worked with other nurse-midwifery researchers in clarifying and organizing data to enhance their investigations and practice. She has worked hard to improve inter-professional collaborations and implementation of evidence-based practice models. Additionally, Holley has impacted future professionals by working with fellow faculty to develop innovative teaching methods.

Nursing Education
Sponsored by Belmont University Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences & Nursing
Natasha McClure, DNP, RN, CPNP
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

McClure teaches community health nursing and is also a clinical instructor in the pre-specialty level. Her clinical experience includes work at Vanderbilt's Burn Center and the Emergency Department at Monroe Carell, as well as prior experience in a rural ER. A strong believer that there is always more to learn, she seeks feedback from students, colleagues and community partners to continually enhance and improve the nursing profession. She is passionate about her role as co-coordinator of the community health nursing series, which she sees as a critical component in preparing nurses to care for an aging population and making the shift to wellness-based care.

Sponsored by Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Amanda Lea, RN, BSN
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt

Lea approaches each day as an opportunity to influence and change lives. Some of the ways she has achieved this is through her work in the NICU-specific Intubation Work Group, by helping to write and review the Safe Sleep Toolkit for the Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care (TIPQC), and by assisting in the creation of the Grief Hurts publication for Metro Public Health Department's Fetal Infant Mortality Review Group. In addition, she encourages colleagues to embrace professional growth and to stretch past individual comfort zones to advocate for the best outcomes for the patients and families being served.

Public & Community Health
Sponsored by Amerigroup
Neely Anderson, RN
Tennessee Department of Health

Anderson, who has been practicing in Tennessee for more than two decades, takes pride in being part of a team of dedicated professionals who work to improve the lives of patients and families across this state. Together, they have helped the uninsured navigate a complex healthcare system to access needed services, find financial assistance for medication, creatively educate those with few resources in chronic disease management, and launch primary prevention initiatives to improve the health of all Tennesseans.

Quality & Risk Management
Sponsored by Pediatrix Medical Group
Rebekah Lemley, RN, EMT
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Deeply dedicated to providing educational programs to nurses, physicians, students, first responders, patients and families, Lemley describes this outreach portion of her practice as a highlight. A nurse and emergency medical technician, she has provided more than 65 burn lectures over the past five years and provided education to more than 600 medical professionals last year alone. "It is my hope that this educational program will have a positive impact on our future patients and those that care for them," Lemley has stated of her work. She also makes the future brighter for many young burn patients through her work with Camp Hope.

Sponsored by Vanderbilt University School of Nursing
Julia Phillippi, PhD, CNM, APN, FACNM
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Much of Phillippi's work has focused on midwives, nurses and maternal-fetal medicine specialists to develop new collaborative models of prenatal care to assist women who want nurse-midwifery services but have risk factors for poor perinatal outcomes. She has used a community-engaged approach, current evidence, and insights from across the spectrum of healthcare to implement a new clinical model. Phillippi stated, "In many ways, how we communicate with patients and other healthcare providers is a central component of satisfying, high-quality, effective healthcare. My research works in that space to develop and test perinatal care settings to ensure they meet the medical and personal needs of women."

Student Nurse of the Year: Graduate
Sponsored by Lipscomb University School of Nursing
Jennifer Neczypor, CNM, RN, Student FNP
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Passionate about her chosen profession, Neczypor has provided full-scope midwifery care ranging from antepartum to postpartum to well-woman and primary care to more than 200 patients and has assisted more than 20 laboring women to safely give birth in a mindful, baby-friendly, family-centered environment. She also serves with the Nashville Volunteer Doula Program by providing free, community-based, non-medical labor support to mothers and families not able to afford doula services. Finishing her studies this spring as a family nurse practitioner, Neczypor's practice focuses on empowering all women, and she is particularly passionate about caring for the medically underserved.

Student Nurse of the Year: Undergraduate
Sponsored by Lipscomb University School of Nursing
Madison Passamonte
Lipscomb University School of Nursing

With a heart for service, a heart for people, and a heart for mission, this student nurse already has volunteered at multiple hospitals, led service trips with healthcare professionals to give medical check-ups to local communities and distributed medicine in makeshift clinics across the globe. Passamonte was described by one of her faculty mentors as "self motivated, caring and has a warmth that radiates their genuineness." She is a shining example of the dedication embodied in the nursing profession.

Surgical Services
Sponsored by Clinical Innovations
Tina Wilson, RN
Sumner Regional Medical Center

Wilson, a Post-Anesthesia Care Unit nurse, was nominated for her compassionate nature and strong desire to help others ... whether at work, home, or in the community. She is beloved by patients and co-workers alike for her positive attitude, compassion, competence, unselfish care and respect for all patients. Wilson has more than 20 years of nursing experience, including 16 as a PACU nurse. She has said, "I'm so proud to work in this profession, and I try to encourage every new student by showing them that this is an incredible place to be."

Women's Health
Sponsored by HCA/TriStar Health
Elizabeth Munoz, MSN, CNM
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Munoz has been praised by those who know her for leading by example with positivity and a forward-looking attitude. As a midwifery student, she co-founded the Nashville Volunteer Doula Program, a first-of-its-kind, community-based service connected to a midwifery school. Today, this program impacts the lives of women and their children in a direct, positive, and personal way by providing labor support, decreasing unnecessary interventions in childbirth, and improving breastfeeding success. While Munoz has touched so many through her work, she has said her own life has been enriched in so many ways by connecting with the women and families she serves.


March of Dimes Tennessee


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Amanda Lea, Amy Casseri, Angela Booker, Elizabeth Munoz, HCA, Jennifer Neczypor, Jill Nelson, Julia Phillippi, Kadie Woltemath, Leslie Lyons, Madison Passamonte, March of Dimes, Middle Tennessee Nurse of the Year, Natasha McClure, Neely Anderson, Pediatrix Medical Group, Rebekah Lemley, Sharon Holley, Stephanie Holaday, Susan Krauser Lupear, Tina Wilson, WGU Tennessee
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