Nurses Supporting Nurses

Nurses supporting nurses - this is the objective of our Celebrating Excellence series. Here you can nominate a newly graduated nurse (TRAILBLAZER) or new nurse mentor/supporter (CHAMPION) who demonstrates significant potential for future leadership in the profession or in their clinical career, advances nursing practice, maintains a strong theoretical knowledge-base, demonstrates outstanding initiative, and is compassionate and caring with patients and their colleagues.

NOMINATE  colleague below. We will feature them in our NTF Newsletter, profile them on our website for the month,  AND we will send you and your nominee a special gift package from NTF to express our gratitude!

Celebrating Excellence Honorees

February 2024 Champion

Doreen Stewart

A great New Grad Champion gravitates to the research and knowledge around new grad transitions and continually applies that foundation to improving the real world experience of the new graduate in order to impact not only the experience of the new graduate, but to also positively impact the unit in which they work.

Doreen embodies this concept 1,000 times over, and more. As a Clinical Lead with Student Practice Education in Northern Health, Doreen works tirelessly to evolve our programming such that it is tailored to the specific needs of the New Grad.

Doreen is a quiet and unassuming bastion of wisdom and caring. With a Masters of Education under her belt, as well as years on the ground doing acute care as both an RN and paramedic, she has a wealth of real world experience and a solid educational background that she applies to her work every single day. Recently, our department held a Vision Mapping session where our team was tasked with digging deep into their "why". The question was: "in 3 years your department is being handed an award for the work that you do. What is that award for? What was the impact?"

Our entire team had goosebumps when it was Doreen's turn to speak. Humble as always, she started out quietly, "I see us getting an award, not for the transactional work we do day to day, but for the way it translates into the lives of the people we serve. We do our job so well, support people so entirely, that it impacts their transitions and experiences to the point that they root into the work, stay in the profession, and become positive advocates for the future new nurses. In fact, the award we are getting is from a Municipality. Our team is being recognized because we have impacted the healthcare system so positively that its ripple effect is felt and seen in the overall health outcomes of our community. Healthcare staff is staying in our region; and, they are healthy and engaged both at work and in community. They are providing overwhelmingly positive experiences to patients and clients, and they are resourced and resilient enough to be imagining new and powerful public health initiatives that will impact our community for years to come."

Now, certainly, that is a big hairy audacious goal, but you can tell that Doreen means it! With every task, big or small, she applies a standard of care that reflects her commitment to excellence and her overwhelming belief that the work she is doing now to support New Graduates really really matters and has potential to change the workforce (and people) for years to come. Every interaction with new hires, employed student nurses, students, her colleagues and our surrounding departments is interspersed with careful thought, empathy, wisdom and meaningful intention so that she is truly living out her values in being a champion for new grads. If anyone will get an award from a Municipality for this ground breaking work one day, it will be Doreen Stewart.
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January 2024 Trailblazer

Taron Tophan

Taron Topham is a recent graduate from the University of Saskatchewan College of Nursing where he studied as a Cronin Loran Scholar.

I had the pleasure of being the Faculty Resource person (FRP) for Taron during his final 16 week practicum on 5th medicine this past year. Upon completion of this clinical course, it is expected that students will be functioning at the level of a beginning graduate nurses as found in the CNRS standards and competencies document (2013). In fact, Taron performed at the top of his class. I have facilitate this course for over 20 years and I rarely have a student that meets the exceptional criteria, which Taron has done. Besides his academic work, Taron has completed summer internships with the Oxford Center for Child Studies, Grandview Medical Clinic, Prairie Harm Reduction Services and the Saskatoon Foodbank. He has served as a volunteer firefighter in his rural community and yet still ensures a prioritization and balance with his personal - home life.

This vast experience as a volunteer combined with his academic knowledge, was appreciated during his preceptorship as he connected with patients from all walks of life and with mental health and addiction issues. Fifth medicine rarely hires new grads and even more rare, has them proceed quickly to be orientated to the Medical Surveillance Unit. Taron was hired as a new grad on the unit and in under four months was trained for the MSU. This speaks volume to the trailblazer he is.

Taron is always curious and is a life long learner. He has recently been accepted as a 2024 Rhodes Scholar and will be pursuing both a master of Science in Translational Health Sciences and a master of Science in International Health and Tropical Medicine at Oxford. His degree in International Health Tropical medicine will involve an eight week placement in a global health care research project that will involve limited research access. Taron plans to study how health care innovations can be adapted from research and used in real front line health care in a timely manner. He will also study major population health challenges in resource limited setting and how ethical approaches can be used to address these inequities.
As you can see, Taron is a RN that is making a difference !
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January 2024 Champion

Ellena Benacchio

Ellena is an excellent champion for New Graduates here at BC Children’s Hospital where she works as a Clinical Leader for New Graduate Support. Ellena has been nursing for 7 years but still recalls what it feels like to be a New Graduate and she is determined to help New Graduates today feel supported as a new professional so that they love this profession as much as she does!

Ellena tirelessly and compassionately supports New Graduates here on our site to ensure they feel seen, heard, and understood. She maintains a strong grounding in transition theory and has developed a strong framework of guiding questions and professional resources to support New Grads on our site. She not only does 1:1 check ins that are focused on the predicted transitional needs of new graduates, but she genuinely shows care to each new graduate and is invested in their success. She is a strong leader in this profession, and she leads with honesty and vulnerability as she acts as a light and a mentor for new grads here at BC Children’s Hospital! Additionally, Ellena is currently working to build a robust support network across our campus so that no new grad feels alone in this tumultuous journey of professional transition.

I want to celebrate her excellence by nominating her for this and recognizing her as a strong champion for New Graduate Nurses!
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Lanette Siragusa
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Christopher Picard 
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OPENS May 1, 2021

Nominate a STAR!

Click the button below to nominate someone you think deserves to receive an NTF Excellence Award. You will be redirected to a form that you can fill out to complete your nomination.

PLEASE READ DESCRIPTIONS above for Award Criteria
Please ensure you have the following before proceeding:
  • Name, ground address, email, phone for nominator and nominee
  • Nominee verbal permission
  • 1500 character (with spaces) overview of nominee attributes
  • ONE additional letter from a supporter in PDF format
  • Unlimited Text
  • Letterhead Required
  • Please note the affiliation of the supporter
  • Email address in signature
  • MUST be signed (electronic is accepted)

Torch Award WINNER

Lia Sanzone

Professor Lia Sanzone is the epitome of supportive leadership in McGill University’s Ingram School of Nursing (ISoN). From her role as Director of the B.Sc. (N.) program, to her work on integrating Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) in the nursing curriculum, to her supervision of the Nursing Peer Mentorship Program (NPMP), Prof. Sanzone strives to prepare students for a smooth transition into the nursing profession. Her engagement with the IBL pedagogy enhances the learning experience for hundreds of students by providing opportunities to practice communication and critical thinking in a safe environment which improves students’ confidence in the transition to professional practice. Under Prof. Sanzone’s direction, the NPMP program has flourished and hosted multiple interprofessional events for students including French Language and ASL workshops, peer support discussions, and nursing theory review sessions. Her endless support for student initiatives has fostered a community of professional and peer support that reaches far beyond the walls of any classroom. Prof. Sanzone is not only the heart of peer mentorship initiatives at ISoN; she also advances knowledge with her research on the value of mentorship and peer learning to support new nursing graduates across professional settings. Suffice to say, Prof. Lia Sanzone is a deserving candidate for the Torch Award as she continues to light the way to healthy and supportive nursing experiences for students and new graduates alike.
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New Graduate Excellence Award WINNER

Kirstie Grimard

It is through Kirstie’s courage to challenge the status quo and her ability to empower others that she has demonstrated outstanding leadership within our organization, making her truly deserving of the New Graduate Excellence Award from Nursing the Future. Since Kirstie is not only new to our team, but also to the profession of Nursing, her marked leadership skill has set her apart from her peers as a promising leader in our profession and within the long-term care industry. Since starting at our organization, Kirstie’s courage has led to improved patient care and positive process change. She has also taken the initiative to empower herself and others, contributing to a more engaged caregiver community.

Teaching Excellence WINNER

Christopher Picard

NOMINATOR: Cristina Burnett

Christopher Picard has shown his commitment to education, research and professional advancement through numerous venues such as journal submissions, research and teaching within the department. He is engaged, committed and inspired to push nursing and our profession forward. He displays his commitment to his own learning and education by instructing Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Mental Health First Aid, and Canadian Triage Acuity Scale (CTAS). This gives Chris the freedom and advantage to teach others. Chris has brought to our department numerous new challenges and learning opportunities such as nurse initiated peripheral ultrasound guided intravenous insertion, CPR feedback devices, and high-fidelity simulation. Each new protocol or learning opportunity presented by Chris is always backed with the best evidence-based information, or from research he is a part of. Outside the department, Chris sits on numerous boards and research teams and introduced ground-breaking research surrounding at home smart devices assisting with emergencies. His engaging personality and innovative spirit bring passion and enthusiasm to our department. Chris has presented both his own and collaborative research at numerous venues and has articles have been published in multiple academic journals. There is no better candidate for this award than Chris. He has accomplished so much in a small amount of time and he is someone to watch for as he will help drive us forward.

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Strength in the Storm WINNER

Lanette Siragusa

NOMINATOR: Kathy Doerksen

Lanette Siragusa is the Provincial Lead, Health System Integration & Quality and Chief Nursing Officer of Shared Health in Manitoba.

In January 2020, with the emergence of COVID-19, Lanette also became the Co-Incident Commander of Manitoba’s COVID-19 response. This leader ensured inclusivity, integration and innovation by pulling leaders together, welcoming new ideas and fostering a “solution focused” approach to the daily challenges. 

She pitched in wherever help was needed, always expressing gratitude for the efforts of others, including those staff who were reassigned and those who came from elsewhere to help. Lanette’s role included near daily press conferences where she provided updates on health system capacity while always recognizing the efforts of the health care workers. Lanette began most updates with a “shout out”, highlighting a health care hero or a community that acted out of kindness or compassion.

Her calm and reassuring presence has been met with cards and emails of thanks and many personal exchanges with health care workers, families and members of the public. In the words of her own son, Lanette is “one of the strongest women out there. She’s always been a role model to me with her work ethic and drive. She doesn’t stop working until her head hits the pillow”.

When approached for permission to submit her name, Lanette responded in typical fashion by saying “the strength of every Manitoba nurse in this COVID storm has been so extraordinary, I am humbled that you thought of me and very honored."
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Nursing The Future™ acknowledges that nurses across this country live, work and play on the lands of our Indigenous Ancestors and we join our members in expressing respectful gratitude for this privilege.
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