2019 Excellence in Nursing Awards

Rhode Island Monthly, in partnership with the Rhode Island State Nurses Association, sings the praises of this year's thirteen honorees.

As American historian and biographer, Stephen E. Ambrose, once said, “It would not be possible to praise nurses too highly.”

Still, we here at Rhode Island Monthly, in partnership with the Rhode Island State Nurses Association, will sing the praises of this year’s thirteen honorees till kingdom come. From nurse practitioners and nurse educators to home health nurses and student nurses just beginning their careers, these are the people that truly embody the ‘care’ part of health care.
Edited by Kaitlyn Murray // Photography by James Jones

Nurse Leader of the Year
Susan Korber, MS, RN, OCN, NE-BC
Vice President of the Lifespan Cancer Institute; Rhode Island Hospital

Clinical Nurse Educator of the Year
Cynthia Hall, MSN, RN, NE-BC, CCRN-K
Nursing Professional Development Specialist at Yale New Haven – Westerly Hospital

Nurse of the Year in a Non-traditional Setting
Jocelyne de Gouvenain, MSN, BSN, RN
Adjunct Faculty Member at Rhode Island College; Administrative and Clinical Coordinator and Founder of the Erline et Armelle Clinic in Beaulieu, Haiti; current chair of the Child Lead Action Project in Providence, upcoming treasurer of the Delta Upsilon Chapter at Large

Licensed Practical Nurse of the Year
Jodi Vigliotti, LPN
Licensed Practical Nurse at the Providence VA/Middletown Outpatient Clinic

Nurse of the Year in an Academic Setting
Debra Ann Cherubini, PhD, RN
Assistant Professor and Chair of the Nursing Department at Salve Regina University

Community Health / Home Health Nurse of the Year
Michaela DiPrete, RN, BSN
Palliative Care Specialist at HopeHealth Visiting Nurse

Nurse Executive of the Year
Charles Alexandre, PhD, RN
Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Butler Hospital

Clinical Practice Nurse of the Year
Kimberly Lopes Diggs, BSN, RN, BC
Staff Nurse, Medical Surgical Unit (specializing in Orthopedic and Urological Services) at the Miriam Hospital

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist of the Year
Maria Ross, MSNA, APRN, CRNA
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
at Narragansett Bay Anesthesia

Nurse Researcher of the Year
Patricia Cioe, PhD, CNP
Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Brown University School of Public Health; Family Nurse Practitioner at Brown Medicine

Nurse Practitioner of the Year
Randy Wolfe, MSN, APRN-BC
Nurse Practitioner at the Miriam Hospital and South County Hospital

Clinical Nurse Specialist of the Year
Susan DiBlasi, MSN, APRN, CCNS-BC, CAPA, CPAN
Clinical Nurse Specialist at Anesthesiology Inc. / Women and Infants Hospital; Adjunct Faculty at the Rhode Island College School of Nursing

Senior Student Nurse of the Year in an RN Program
Rachel McBride, Class of 2019
Nursing student at the Community College of Rhode Island

Our Judges
Irene Eaton, RN, MSN, the former president of American Nurses Association – Maine and Karen Ballard, RN, MSN, the former executive director of American Nurses Association – NY.

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Left to right: Susan DiBlasi, Clinical Nurse Specialist of the Year; Susan Korber, Nurse Leader of the Year. Photograph by James Jones.

How did you get into nursing?

“I knew I wanted to be a nurse very early in life. I believe that my family members instilled the desire and the noble duty of helping others into my brain. My aunt Erline used to tell me about women whom she grew up with in Haiti who ended up dying very young in childbirth. She told me, ‘I did not have the chance to go to school, but you have that opportunity. You must stay in school and try to help us when you grow up.’ As a child, I was very skillful in caring for injured animals on my family’s farm. I used Haitian bamboo, banana bark and leaves to immobilize animals’ broken limbs and organized their sleeping areas with dried banana leaves. I would care for them, and they all would survive, even those that my parents expected to die. Those who are suffering have a special spot in my heart. I believe that it is something special to be able to comfort and help those who are suffering during their most vulnerable times.” — Jocelyne de Gouvenain

“When I was growing up, my family urged me to select a job that would always provide employment. I was interested in the medical field; I remember doing experiments and science projects in the basement of my home. I wanted a job that would be challenging and allow me to help people. While I was in high school, I trained to become a certified nurse’s aide to gain experience and to see if I would like the field of nursing. I have loved caring for people ever since.” — Debra Ann Cherubini

“Nursing was not my first choice for a career. I graduated from Rhode Island College with a degree in psychology. During my senior year, I interned at the Providence Mental Health Center (now the Providence Center) in the day treatment program. This experience solidified my desire to work in health care in some capacity. Upon graduation, I was hired as a mental health worker at Butler Hospital and it was there that I learned about the central role of the registered nurse as a member of the health care team. I decided that this was what I wanted to do. I was accepted by the Rhode Island College nursing program, graduated in 1985, and never looked back.” — Charles Alexandre

“I always knew that I wanted to be a nurse. I have always enjoyed caring for people and nursing has allowed me to follow this passion into a wonderful, rewarding career.” — Cynthia Hall

“As a very young mother of four, I realized the necessity to further my education. While filling out the admissions application at the local community college, I was directed to choose a course of study and I randomly selected nursing. I had no prior experience or any association with anyone in the medical field. I have since come to understand my choice was a predestined calling.” — Kim Lopes Diggs

“I knew I had wanted to be a nurse for almost as long as I can remember. Luckily, my high school had a vo-tech program, so I took the CNA course my junior and senior year. After graduating, I started work as a CNA in a nursing home while going through nursing school. Once I began that job, I fell in love with caring for others in need and I knew that nursing was the right path for me.” — Michaela DiPrete

“In the winter of 2011, I realized that nurses have the power not only to save lives, but to transform them, too. During that winter, while pregnant with my son, Samuel, I experienced several complications and had to be hospitalized intermittently for almost three months. Thankfully, I was not alone. Day after day, the nurses not only cared for me physically, but also took time to listen to me, share with me, teach me how to self-advocate and help me overcome my fears. The women were professional in their work, yet personal in their interactions. I only saw the doctors for a few minutes each day, but spent hours with the nurses as they had to help me with virtually every task. Shortly after Samuel’s birth, I became determined that, when the time was right, I would pursue a degree in nursing. I was confident that, with the proper training, I, too, could make a difference in the lives of others.” — Rachel McBride

“As an early teen, my cousin and I were ‘candy stripers,’ volunteering at a Providence hospital. I remember we received the ‘volunteers of the year’ award one year because we had volunteered so many hours over the course of our summer vacation. I loved being in an acute care hospital setting and spending time on the wards with the nurses. It was these early experiences that strengthened my desire to become a nurse!” — Patricia Cioe

“I always wanted to be a nurse. I graduated Smithfield High School in 1974 and took a position as a nurse’s aide in a local nursing home. It was there that I met an LPN named Diane who encouraged me to be a nurse. She could see I was attentive and compassionate. I told her I would love to be a nurse but was unsure how to go about it. She said, ‘Just call RI Junior College [now CCRI] and fill out an application.’ I did just that and graduated from RIJC as an LPN in 1976.”— Susan DiBlasi

“I’ve known since the age of eight, when I was hospitalized with kidney stones, that I wanted to be in the medical field. When I got to URI and started my undergraduate education, it became apparent that nursing would be the best fit for me. After spending some time in the nursing program, I realized that becoming a nurse practitioner would give me the tools to help the most people and also provide my preferred skill set.” — Randy Wolfe

“After high school, I wanted to become a nurse, but in my family of Italian heritage, girls were not allowed to attend college. I was allowed to go to a higher education school as long as college and university weren’t in the name. So, I attended Sawyer School of Business and became a medical assistant. Having children brought me back to my lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. Along with the children came unexpected hospital and doctor visits and navigating the often-difficult atmosphere of the health care system. Being in this medical environment made me realize that I needed to help others. So, when my children were in high school, I went back to school and finally became a nurse.” — Jodi Vigliotti

“My mother was a nurse executive at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. I volunteered there at thirteen and I knew immediately that I wanted to be a nurse.” — Susan Korber

“As a child, I was always intrigued with the medical field. Blood never fazed me and when I needed stitches in third grade, I watched the ER physician stitch my leg instead of looking away. By high school, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. Cranston High School West had a nursing assistant program. The guidance counselor attempted to dissuade me from this program because it was ‘vocational,’ even though the classes were college prep. I was very adamant about becoming a nurse and insisted on enrolling in the program. This class was the stepping stone for my nursing career.” — Maria Ross

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Left to right: Cynthia Hall, Clinical Nurse Educator of the Year; Jocelyne de Gouvenain, Nurse of the Year in a Non-Traditional Setting; Kimberly Lopes Diggs, Clinical Practice Nurse of the Year. Photograph by James Jones.

What made you pursue this particular specialty?

“I had an interest in studying human behavior since high school. While studying psychology in college, I found myself working with individuals with mental illness. I returned to school with the intention of becoming a psychiatric registered nurse. After graduation, I worked in a number of different settings, quickly learning that people with mental illness are cared for across the health care spectrum.” — Charles Alexandre

“I am currently working in an acute-care setting where I have practiced for many years. However, my love for nursing is community-based. This is because of my Haitian background and my involvement in the clinic in Haiti. Our main focus there is addressing health determinants at their roots, empowering people to be in charge of their health, and empowering women to have control over how many children they bear and when they bear them by making birth control available, free of charge, to those who want it. Community nursing provides me with a voice to do what I like to do most. — Jocelyne de Gouvenain

“Being a clinical practice nurse allows me to connect with patients and their families during their time of need. My goal is to establish a plan of care and offer both assistance and encouragement toward an optimal outcome. On those rare occasions when I am met with a form of resistance, my focus is to remain professional and positive throughout the process to seek a resolution. Often times it may just require that I take the time to listen.” — Kim Lopes Diggs

“Prior to my current position, I worked as an ICU and an ER nurse. In both of those fields, I cared for many patients who were at late- or end-stages of their diseases. Often, our team provided aggressive or lifesaving measures for these patients, who many times couldn’t speak for themselves. I hoped that their families or doctors had talked to them about their wishes — even if they wanted to be hospitalized — and learned that many times those conversations never happened. As a palliative nurse, I am able to have those difficult but important conversations where people can voice what is important to them, whatever it may be.” — Michaela DiPrete

“As I considered graduate school and advanced practice nursing roles, I felt the clinical nurse specialist role was the best fit for me. It fit perfectly with my peri-anesthesia nursing experience. In this role, I am able to provide nursing expertise to patients at the bedside and to nurses in the health care system. It also allows me to provide education to the next generation of undergraduate and graduate nurses.” — Susan DiBlasi

“I enjoy reading and learning. Cancer care was a new horizon and seemed to be changing rapidly in the eighties, so I transferred to the inpatient cancer unit at the Miriam Hospital. The nurses and doctors on the unit became a lifelong team, many of us still work together in the Cancer Institute. Once I transitioned, I knew I would always be in cancer care. It is a real passion for me — creating the best possible environment and model of care for cancer patients.” — Susan Korber

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Left to right: Charles Alexandre, Nurse Executive of the Year; Randy Wolfe, Nurse Practitioner of the Year; Jodi Vigliotti, Licensed Practical Nurse of the Year. Photograph by James Jones.

What is your favorite part of your job / nursing in general?

“The best thing about a career in nursing is that the opportunities are virtually limitless. I have worked as a staff nurse, a clinical educator, a nurse manager and as a manager in hospice and home care. Mid-career, I moved into the health care regulation space and that’s when I became the state director of nurse registration and nursing education at the Department of Health. I went back to the clinical arena at Butler seven years ago as the director of quality and regulation and was appointed the chief nursing officer two years ago. My career has been varied, challenging and always interesting. Nursing has been very good to me and given the chance, I would definitely do it all over again.” — Charles Alexandre

“The students, of course! It is wonderful to see students achieve that ‘a ha’ moment when everything that they have learned clicks and they understand the importance of the application of the knowledge and clinical skills they have learned. I [also] graduated from the nursing program at Salve Regina University. I still remember my own ‘a ha’ moment.” — Debra Ann Cherubini

“My favorite part of being a clinical nurse educator is the wide variety of people and responsibilities that I encounter each day — every day is different and might include teaching classes, interviewing new nurses, coordinating education for staff about new medications/technologies or working on quality improvement projects. I have met so many wonderful people and continue to be amazed by the incredible improvements in health care.” — Cynthia Hall

“I truly enjoy helping our patients feel better. Watching patients improve and go home is the most rewarding part. We may not always be able to cure the underlying issues, but as medical professionals, it is our duty to improve our patients’ lives to the best of our ability. I also love how we are always learning and teaching one another in this field.” — Randy Wolfe
“My favorite part is simply getting to help patients manage their diseases at home and helping to keep them out of the hospital. In many cases, it takes a team in order to do that and I feel grateful to be a part of it.” — Michaela DiPrete

“There are so many exciting things that I love about research. It is fun to think about how to do things differently in a clinical setting to improve patient outcomes. I enjoy coming up with new ideas. It’s then fun to convey that idea in a grant application, get others excited about your idea and actually procure funding to test that idea in a clinical research study.” — Patricia Cioe

“I honestly can say that I love every aspect of being a nurse anesthetist, from the moment I greet the patient in the pre-op area through administering their anesthesia to waking them up and transporting them to the recovery room. As a clinician, I love providing airway management, administration and maintenance of anesthesia with inhalation agents or IV sedation. I love that I can provide different types of anesthesia based on each patient’s history, physical and type of surgery. I love the educator component as a nurse anesthetist in providing patients with answers to any questions or concerns regarding their anesthetic plans or risks associated with their co-morbidities. I also love the didactic role as an anesthesia educator for nurse anesthetist students as well as different health care entities. I love being an advocate for the patient, because safety always comes first in deciding what is best for the patient. I think it might have been easier to ask which part of being a nurse anesthetist I do not like, which is the frigid temperatures!” — Maria Ross

“My favorite part of nursing is knowing that I can make a difference in someone’s life. Whether providing care for the sick, advocating for the health and well-being of patients or providing support and education, I know that I am making a difference. In my position at the VA, I feel that I can give something back to our veterans who have sacrificed a great deal for us no matter what position they held in our Armed Forces. You never truly know what each individual experienced and what they are dealing with now. I show them respect, treat them with compassion and offer empathy and a smile.” — Jodi Vigliotti

“From my clinical experiences, I have come to really value the relational and educational roles of nursing — being able to encourage people who are facing challenges and equip them with knowledge and skills that will help them care for themselves after discharge. Although the demands of caring for so many patients simultaneously can make these tasks difficult, they are definitely the most rewarding. I also have realized that I enjoy the problem-solving aspects of nursing — overcoming challenges to help patients receive the best care possible.” — Rachel McBride

“I look forward to coming to work for two reasons. For one, I work with a fabulous team of dedicated professionals who are laser-focused on providing exceptional care. As a team, we are respectful, collegial and always try to do the right thing for our patients and each other. Secondly, our patients are inspiring. Seeing the progress we are making in cancer care and how it affects patients’ lives is unbelievable and I want to continue to be part of the progress.” — Susan Korber

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Left to right: Maria Ross, Certified Nurse Anesthetist of the Year; Michaela DiPrete, Community Health/Home Health Nurse of the Year. Photograph by James Jones.

Tell us about an accomplishment from your career that you are most proud of and/or found to be the most rewarding.

“The clinic in Haiti is something our group is proud of. However, it is a collective accomplishment rather than an individual one. The clinic provides care to the most vulnerable and those who would otherwise have access to health care. Because the clinic allows me and the Haitian Humanitarian Network Board of Directors to address the issue of health access, I am most proud of the accomplishment. There is no better way of helping people. We are saving lives, preventing people from becoming debilitated or dying from stroke, treating malaria, empowering women to provide better lives to their children and becoming productive members of their communities, and educating children. We accomplished all of this together, which makes it even richer.” — Jocelyne de Gouvenain

“Teaching a seminar for all Westerly Hospital employees is one of the most rewarding aspects of my career as a nurse educator. Re-Igniting the Spirit of Caring (RSC) is a three-day seminar that provides an opportunity for all staff to reconnect with their reasons for choosing to work in a healing profession and reignite their commitment to our shared purpose. Hospital staff from all departments collaborate together to transform their workplaces into cultures where relationships thrive, appreciation is openly expressed and caring is the foundation of every working day.” — Cynthia Hall

“I’m most proud of helping to establish the Lifespan Cancer Institute. We have been a system-wide program for six years, combining the caregivers and support staff from three hospitals into one cohesive group. The LCI staff may be located across our state but everyone works together with a focus on providing exceptional care. It means a great deal to me to help coordinate a care model that is always staying up to date with the latest development and innovation in cancer care but remains very personal and patient-centered at its core.” — Susan Korber

“The accomplishments that I am most proud of are serving my country as a Navy nurse for twenty years, caring for service men and woman on deployment and earning my doctoral degree. I received outstanding medical training in the Navy. I developed a confidence that supported me when dealing with any challenge in my life. On deployment, you are very aware that someone is waiting for your patient to come home. I have always remembered that and it ensured that I, and all the personnel that worked with me, remained current with the medical skills needed on deployment. I felt the same way when working on my PhD in nursing education. It is important that I maintain the skill set that an educator would need to facilitate a program that produces competent and compassionate nurses.” — Debra Ann Cherubini

“I am proud that both of my daughters chose careers in health care; one a registered nurse and the other an occupational therapist, hopefully because they saw the passion I felt for my profession.” — Susan DiBlasi

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Left to right: Patricia Cioe, Nurse Researcher of the Year; Rachel McBride, Senior Student Nurse of the Year in an RN Program; Debra Cherubini, Nurse of the Year in an Academic Setting. Photograph by James Jones.

What qualities do you think make for a good nurse?

“Integrity, humility and empathy. When you treat patients, fellow nurses and other professionals with these traits, you earn their trust and build a cooperative partnership that will optimize care.” — Rachel McBride

“Being able to listen and understand people because sometimes patients do have other big concerns besides being sick. Therefore, the nurse must be able to allocate other resources in order to support the patient through those difficult times, be non-judgmental, be compassionate and always ready to learn from instructors, peers, mentors, patients, families and other caregivers. Know your limit, know where to find resources for your patients and families. The science of nursing is changing, so embrace the change; be part of it. It will allow you to evolve as your profession is evolving.” — Jocelyne de Gouvenain

“The best nurses are passionate about making a difference in the lives of others. For these nurses, caring is not simply a job, it is a way of life. I am privileged to work with an exceptional team of nurse leaders at Westerly Hospital. When we interview new nurses, we like to tell them that we are looking to hire ‘great people.’ We can always teach a new nurse the skills he/she will need to be successful, but we search for nurses who share our values: integrity, patient-centered, respect, accountability, compassion and a passion for excellence.” — Cynthia Hall

“I think the greatest skill a nurse could possess is the ability to quickly adapt. Whether it’s in an outpatient setting or in the ICU, being able to re-prioritize your work in the blink of an eye can have the greatest effect on the outcome of your patients. There is so much to learn in this field. Don’t stop growing, ask your fellow nurses, NPs/ PAs and physicians for help — we all can learn a great deal from each other!” — Randy Wolfe

“I usually joke about the qualities I look for when recruiting new staff members: very smart, very kind and a good sense of humor. Those attributes can serve as a solid foundation for building not only clinical skills, but the empathy and communication skills needed to be an effective caregiver and health care team member today. I think all nurses are informal leaders — we are accountable for patient outcomes in working with the patient, their family and the entire health care team. In many ways, nurses serve as the central focus for communication and coordination between multiple disciplines and the community the patient returns to.” — Susan Korber

What do you wish more people knew about your role in nursing?

“I wish people knew that nurses are not only responsible for pass ing medications, sending patients out to their tests and procedures and admiting and discharging patients. We treat the whole person by addressing other issues that affect the person’s health, whether it’s a problem with a dependent person or a pet at home, an issue related to culture, etc.” — Jocelyne de Gouvenain

“It seems that so few people understand what nurses really do. Even recently, someone remarked that they never knew nurses did research and asked me what kind of research a nurse can do. Nurses can be involved in so many types of research! My research centers on improving patient outcomes. I’ve been a primary care provider for so long that my research questions are generated from my clinical practice. I see in clinic what kinds of health issues my patients are struggling with and then I look to the literature to see what types of interventions have been developed that have been shown to be effective. When there are gaps in our understanding of effective interventions, I try to come up with an idea for how.” — Patricia Cioe

“I think a lot of people would be surprised at how much we can do as nurse practitioners. You may see an NP in your primary care physician’s office, the emergency room, the operating room and many places in between. From listening to our patients, diagnosing and prescribing and performing procedures, we have a vast range of duties to fulfill.” — Randy Wolfe

“That the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is a master’s- or doctorate-prepared advanced practice nurse (APRN) whose function is to improve outcomes in patient care. CNS provide diagnosis, treatment and on-going management of patients. They also provide expertise and support to nurses caring for patients at the bedside, help drive practice changes throughout the organization and ensure the use of best practices and evidence-based care to achieve the best possible patient outcomes for our patients and their families. I am currently the first and only CNS that is credentialed by the medical staff office (MSO) of a hospital in Rhode Island, and I am the first CNS in Rhode Island to have prescriptive privileges granted by the MSO. I am very thankful to Dr. Choi, chief of the department of anesthesia, for supporting me in this process.” — Susan DiBlasi

“As certified registered nurse anesthetists, we can safely administer anesthesia in every setting where anesthesia is delivered. This includes the acute hospital for surgery, obstetrics, trauma, critical care or emergency situations; in ambulatory surgery centers; or offices of dentists and specialty physicians (urology, gastroenterology, orthopedic, plastic surgery, pain management, etc.) As nurse anesthetists working within our full scope of practice, we are able to initiate, plan and monitor all aspects of anesthesia care including general anesthesia, monitored anesthesia care, sedation, epidurals and pain management. Every CRNA is required to be board-certified and graduate with a master’s or doctoral degree. If you have had surgery in Rhode Island, chances are, a CRNA gave you your anesthesia.” — Maria Ross

Tell us about a stand-out memory or a formative experience from your nursing career.

“About a year ago, my son was very ill and admitted to Newport Hospital. My son has cerebral palsy and cannot speak, walk or eat, and must rely on some to care for his every need. The nursing care he received was outstanding. All of the nurses treated my son as if he was their family. One night, he needed a new IV started. A few attempts were made, but my son was very ill and it was difficult to place the new IV. They called for a nurse to come up from the ICU to attempt to start his IV. It was a very stressful moment. The nurse from the ICU arrived and, to my surprise, she was one of my former students. She took my hand and told me she knew how much I loved my son and that she would do her very best to care for him. You know what? She placed the IV, first try. I was overwhelmed with pride. It was very humbling to see one of my students so confident, compassionate and professional.” — Debra Ann Cherubini

“Early in my NP practice in the mid-1990s, I met a patient who clearly had symptoms of AIDS but had not yet been tested and diagnosed. After diagnosing him with HIV/AIDS, I was his primary care provider for the next ten to fifteen years. He was a really great guy, and I remained in touch with both him and his partner, even after they relocated to the South. I collaborated closely with the HIV specialist at Rhode Island Hospital to provide care to this patient and this spurred my interest in HIV. The level of HIV research going on at the time intrigued me and I loved that the emerging evidence guided the care. I knew that at some point I would want to conduct my own research to improve the lives of those living with HIV.” — Patricia Cioe

“My most memorable patient encounter occurred while I was in nursing school during my pediatric clinical rotation. I met a mom and a sweet little girl who was just diagnosed with juvenile diabetes; their world had turned upside down. I did some education with the mom on how to get blood sugar readings and give injections, calculate carbohydrates and determine insulin dosage. The mom was overwhelmed. I encouraged her and helped her see that she could handle this by taking it just one step at a time. I informed her of the different camps and activities that were available to help her daughter understand and deal with juvenile diabetes. It took some thought to come up with ideas for games that would include education and instruction for a five-year-old who needed to learn to poke her finger to get her blood sugar reading. And many, many stickers! By the end of my shift, the mom was able to obtain a blood sugar reading and calculate and give an insulin injection. Her daughter was able to poke her own finger. It gave me such satisfaction and encouragement. I have had the pleasure to stay connected with these wonderful ladies and watch their success to overcome the challenges of juvenile diabetes.” — Jodi Vigliotti

“I do have many funny stories regarding patients, but I cannot divulge them. Sometimes, the patient gets so nervous that they will say something inappropriate or outrageous after I administer Versad. I usually tell them that the operating room is like Las Vegas….Whatever you say in the OR, stays in the OR.” — Maria Ross

“So many [patients] come to mind that absolutely have [changed the way I thought about nursing]. I’ll always remember this quote that I try to live by: ‘You treat a disease: you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win no matter what the outcome.’” — Michaela DiPrete

What advice would you give to an aspiring nurse?

“My advice would be to go into your nursing program with an open mind. You may think that you want to work in the emergency department because television shows tell us that that’s where the action is. You may very well land there after graduation, but I would suggest fully engaging in each clinical placement while you are in school. There are so many different areas of practice. You will likely be surprised at where you find the most joy as a nurse.” — Charles Alexandre

“Nursing school is a rigorous academic journey. The curriculum is very demanding, intense and challenging. Nurses cannot only memorize information; application of this knowledge is required to develop clinical competency. Nursing is a profession that requires continuous education to maintain knowledge of current nursing practice. Florence Nightingale once said, ‘Let us never consider ourselves finished nurses….We must be learning all of our lives.’ Continual academic development is key to practice and professional development.” — Debra Ann Cherubini

“I believe it is important to understand that the profession is extremely challenging physically, emotionally and mentally. Nursing is absolutely a team sport and requires all players to step up and advocate for their patients and for each other. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve others in this capacity and to be a part of such a noble profession. Receiving this award feels like a wink from heaven offering assurances that I’m on the right path, fulfilling my purpose.” — Kim Lopes Diggs

“Nursing is not only a rewarding, lifelong career, but it’s also a versatile profession. During my thirty-plus years as a nurse, I’ve been a surgical intensive-care specialist, a post-anesthesia care nurse, a primary care nurse practitioner, an HIV specialist and currently a nurse scientist whose research focuses on cardiovascular health for people living with HIV. It’s been exciting to adapt my career as I’ve developed expertise in particular areas and passion for certain populations of patients.” — Patricia Cioe

“First, examine your motives for why you want to be a nurse. If your priority is something other than patient care, it will be difficult for you to do the extra tasks that make such a difference. I have witnessed nurses who view their patients as a burden and have seen how this negatively affects their patient care and interactions with colleagues. I have also encountered nurses who put others before themselves and have seen how this attitude blesses their patients and colleagues. Second, know that nursing school is demanding, but rewarding. Seek to be a model student and make the most of your nursing school experience—prepare for classes; learn as much as possible from your professors; don’t be afraid to ask questions and pursue opportunities to experience different aspects of nursing so you can learn from those in the field and have guidance for your future.” — Rachel McBride

“Nursing is a very fulfilling and challenging profession. Every day, every patient, every encounter is different from the one before. Nurses have to look at the broad spectrum and bring all the pieces together. Treat each patient and family member the way you would want to be treated — with respect.” — Jodi Vigliotti

 

NOMINATOR BUZZ

About our Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist of the Year, Maria Ross:
“[Maria] has a wealth of knowledge and is a great resource for all of us in the trenches. I am president of the Rhode Island Association of Nurse Anesthetists and I often go to Maria for her expertise on many fronts.” — Karen Flynn, friend and colleague

About our Nurse of the Year in an Academic Setting, Debra Ann Cherubini:
“Dr. Cherubini is a true mentor. Her staff is a direct reflection of her positive attributes, kindness and professionalism that is reflected in their students. I witnessed this at this year’s pinning ceremony and graduation: she hugged every student while beaming with pride.” — Teresa Coppa, mentee and parent of former student

About our Nurse of the Year in a Non-Traditional Setting, Jocelyne de Gouvenain:
“Jocelyne advocates for underserved and low-income populations to live with dignity and basic human rights denied to many based upon where they live. Whether it’s students or people who need extra attention to navigate the health care delivery system, Jocelyne is always available to help and see things through to completion.” — Jean Marie Rocha, colleague

About our Nurse Practitioner of the Year, Randy, Wolfe:
“Randy is the unicorn of providers — you will never find someone else like him. Even though he is a provider, Randy is always willing to roll up his sleeve and get dirty. He knows the life of a floor nurse and is willing to help out whenever he can. He also takes the time to educate and is always willing to answer questions.” — Stephanie Ricci, colleague

About our Nurse Leader of the Year, Susan Korber:
“Sue has been instrumental in building the cancer service line across Lifespan and is the face of our cancer program along with cancer care in Rhode Island. She has never forgotten her nursing roots. As a respected leader in the organization, she tirelessly advocates for the nursing profession and constantly pushes to improve patient outcomes.”— Katie Cherenzia, colleague

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