2021 AWARD WINNERS
Karen B. Hicks
Karen exudes integrity every day. She has immense compassion for her patients and their families, especially in times of serious need. She will go above and beyond to take on any task to ensure her patients are comforted and supported at all times. Her dedication and passion toward end-of-life care have made a huge impact on her team’s practices and major improvements for the population. Karen is undoubtedly a true asset to her team and without a question irreplaceable.
Despite the wishes of the patient and loved ones, interventions were still in place to attempt to improve the patient’s condition. This nurse explained that continued treatment was not pursuant to the goals of care from the perspective of the patient and the patient’s loved ones. She stayed with the patient and advocated for their wishes. While maintaining the integrity of the health care team and being supportive of their roles, this nurse followed the chain of command until a plan of care was in place that supported the wishes of the patient. This patient ultimately passed, comfortably, with their goals of care being followed and surrounded by their loved ones.
This nurse is BSN-prepared, currently pursuing her MSN, and has her medical-surgical certification. She is an active member of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, Hospice & Palliative Care Nurses Association, and NCNA. She has received multiple stars in all five aspects of our values: diversity, teamwork, safety, excellence, and integrity. She has also been recognized by the hospital for perfect attendance multiple times over the last five years. This nurse teaches basic diabetes not only to her daughter’s teachers, but has recently been teaching at other local schools across the county. She annually raises money and walks for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She also coordinates collection of angel tree presents for the Salvation Army and winter coat/gloves/hat for the local county rescue mission.
This nurse has an interest and talent in the area of end of life (EOL) and is a very skilled hospice nurse. She has attended, on her own time, education regarding crucial conversations at EOL, which has enabled her to present information that can be understood and advocate for the wishes of patients at the EOL. When we started to incorporate hospice and EOL care on our unit a few years ago, she brought together interdisciplinary staff and started a Palliative Care Committee. She coordinated education and facilitated discussion of how we can improve care of this population. She readily evaluates difficult situations on other units as a palliative care resource, and educates other areas on effective symptoms management at EOL. As part of her master’s project, she developed palliative care education for medical/surgical nurses and is currently distributing it to the nursing units.
This nurse participates in the hospital’s Compassionate Care Committee, which organizes a quarterly interdisciplinary conference that offers clinicians a time to openly and honestly discuss social and emotional issues that arise in caring for patients. This nurse recently became the unit’s Shared Governance Representative for the health system’s Nursing Clinical Practice Council and is Co-Chair of the DRH Nursing Practice Council. She enthusiastically jumped into the role and has done a phenomenal job with bringing clinical practice issues up to the council, as well as bringing important information down to her co-workers. Recently, this nurse assisted with arranging a wedding for a terminally ill patient. A whole team worked together to gather what was needed. The patient and partner were able to have a legal marriage ceremony with friends and family gathered around before the patient passed away.
This nurse cared for a patient who was suffering from delirium. Through her interaction with their loved ones, she found out this patient loved country music. This nurse tuned in country music on the computer, which helped settle the patient which, in turn, helped the family feel more at ease. This nurse consistently looks beyond the boundaries to find ways to meet the needs of patients and their loved ones. A patient recently wrote: “Specifically I want to thank this nurse for being the kindest, most compassionate nurse I have ever experienced. When I was suffering with extraordinary pain, she stood by me, called doctors for me, encouraged me and helped me as I endured the most horrific pain I’ve ever experienced. Without this nurse, I am not sure I could have remained calm as long as it took for the doctors to decide what to do.”
This nurse takes time to get to know her patients in order to truly care for and meet their individualized needs, which ingrains a lasting memory into her patients’ lives.
Karen B. Hicks
Clinical Nurse III
General Medicine and Dialysis Unit 5-1
Duke Regional Hospital