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Nursing Excellence

The Online Newsletter for Children's Nurses
e-Edition, Volume 1, Issue 2

Nurse of the Year 2009

Nursing ExcellenceEach year, Children’s Hospital Central California recognizes nurses who exemplify excellence in nursing. These individuals are nominated by their peers and colleagues for their outstanding contribution to the practice, and for representing excellence and exemplyfing the Forces of Magnetism. It is our honor to recognize the following nurses in 2009:

Rachel Amundsen, BSN, RN, CPON 

Nurse of the Year Clinical Practice 2009

Rachel has been a catalyst for change in the care of pediatric oncology, endocrinology, nephrology and rheumatology patients in Craycroft since 2003. Using evidence-based research, Rachel redesigned the Oncology Core classes to focus education in alignment with national standards. As a result of her contributions, based on National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) standards as well as Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON) guidelines, Rachel has helped Children’s Hospital become one of the first hospitals in California to offer a specialized chemotherapy and biotherapy administration course. Rachel was instrumental in raising the level of patient care by encouraging nurses to achieve national certification as a Certified Pediatric Oncology Nurse (CPON). During the past year, there has been a 12 percent increase in the number of nurses who are certified as a CPON. In addition to redesigning the Oncology Core classes, she organized and implemented education for the first Endocrinology Core course at Children’s and is a course instructor for Focused Pediatric Resuscitation. Rachel Amundsen, BSN, RN, CPON

A key member of Craycroft leadership, Rachel works directly with other members of the leadership team throughout the organization to implement high standards of nursing practice. Her leadership in implementing the new NIOSH standards for chemotherapy safety as well as potential conversion of the IV tubing systems, improved patient safety and demonstrated stewardship of critical fiscal resources. She serves as a Clinical Practice Committee member, and her support of evidence-based practice changes has helped develop and restructure policies and procedures relative to the care provided to the complex patient population. Her devotion to patient and quality care has helped drive successful Magnet re-designation. She has a deep commitment to both the staff she leads and the care of the patients. Rachel is a great example of leading through excellence and inspiring others to achieve greatness in nursing.

Active in the community as well as professional organizations, Rachel is involved with the Sierra Challenge Express Running Club and Youth for Christ. She participates in medical mission trips and is an active member in church, APHON and Children’s Oncology Group (COG).

Betty (Jean) Bier, MSN, BSN, NP

Nurse of the Year Advanced Practice 2009

Betty “Jean” provides a much needed service as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) specializing in neurology for pediatric patients in the community. Jean recognized the need to develop resources for children with neurological problems. Her dedication to children and their families continues to be demonstrated daily, as it has for the past 30 years. She began her career in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (now the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU), including providing neonatal transports for 10 years. She continued her education, earning her Master’s in Nursing as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) and PNP.  Betty Bier, MSN, BSN, NP

Since 1998, Jean has focused her experience and education on the care of children with developmental and neurological problems in the Neurology Clinic at Children’s Hospital Central California. She triages, makes referrals, consults with community physicians, counsels and teaches families, researches information needed for her patients, and provides support and direction to the staff around her. In addition, she sees over 60 patients per week; 75 percent of the children she provides care for have seizures. Jean also provides care at the satellite clinics.

Specialty trained, Jean has integrated into practice the use of the Bayley’s Scale of Infant Development for children ages 0-36 months, a tool typically administered by a psychologist. A long history of providing education to parents, Jean has had a positive impact on the lives of high-risk and fragile children. Examples include integrating “Infant Behavior and Learning Cues,” assisting in the development and production of a video focusing on the care of high-risk infants with Fresno County Department of Social Services, and developing patient/family teaching materials for patients with seizures.

Jean states her most significant contribution to nursing research has been her commitment to spreading the word about evidence-based practice. She developed the policies and procedures that Neurology Clinic staff use based on solid evidence.

Active in nursing organizations, Jean is a member of the Sigma Theta Tau-Mu Nu chapter, serving as the previous Membership Chair and Treasurer, and is a member of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.

Stacie Venkatesan, MSN, RNC-NIC

Nurse of the Year Advanced Practice 2009

As a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Stacie has been instrumental in incorporating evidenced-based care with the development and implementation of programs to improve patient safety. This includes decreasing Catheter Associated Bloodstream Infections (CABSI) in patients, resulting in reducing the overall CABSI rate by 47 percent. This has also included efforts to prevent Ventilator Associated Pneumonia (VAP) in NICU patients, maintaining a VAP rate of less than 2.6 percent for babies less than 1500 grams, and 1.3 percent for babies greater than 1500 grams, which is below the national average. Stacie developed a standardized Infant Care Protocol to promote standardized care across the care continuum for NICU patients. She also conducts monthly follow-up visits for patients discharged from the NICU with special needs, assessing patients and counseling parents in patient care decisions.  Stacie Venkatesan, MSN, RNC-NIC

Stacie has made significant contributions to nursing education by coordinating a Registered Nurse (RN) extended practice program in the NICU. The program resulted in 52 RNs certified to perform umbilical cannulation and 21 RNs certified to perform needle thoracentesis. She developed the curriculum for the Monthly Morbidity and Mortality Conferences, presents lectures on health-associated topics in the NICU and provides education on the Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) as an instructor.

Stacie promotes the advanced practice of nursing while serving as one of three RN voting members on the Medical Staff Committee for Interdisciplinary Practice. She collaborated with senior leadership to develop and obtain licensure for 23 Level III NICU beds. The new beds are among the first single occupancy beds in California designed to promote family-centered care.

Stacie participates in the Vermont Oxford Network (VON), promoting best practices and maintaining the lead in the benchmark status of neonatal outcomes with some of the highest risk infants.  

Active in community events, her church and nursing organizations, Stacie developed and provided education and systems changes for the management of children with diabetes at the Easter Seal’s Child Day Care Center. She has coordinated the NICU Annual Graduate Reunion Picnic for the past five years for about 700 NICU graduates and family members. She is a member of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN) and the Central California Association of Neonatal Nurses (CCANN). Stacie was recognized as the Central Valley Coalition of Nursing Organization’s (CVCNO) Nurse of the Year for Advanced Practice in 2009.

Jennifer Norgaard, MSN, RNC-NIC

Nurse of the Year Clinical Education 2009

As the Clinical Nurse Specialist for the NICU, Jennifer has a passion to promote data-driven quality improvement for our 88-bed Regional Level III NICU. She was the lead for the Vermont Oxford Network (VON) performance improvement collaborative, which is composed of 43 children’s hospital neonatal units across the country. Jennifer developed curriculum for Children’s Hospital Central California Nutrition Protocol for low birth weight infants, which resulted in a 37 percent decrease of infants in the NICU demonstrating extrauterine growth failure.

Jennifer Norgaard, MSN, RNC-NICAs the Co-Chair for Children’s Hospital Nursing Peer Review Committee (which identifies opportunities to improve nursing care, systems issues, documentation, and communication), Jennifer was instrumental in the design of the peer review processes for nursing, establishing Children’s Hospital as an early adopter of this process nationwide. She serves as the leadership liaison for the unit’s “Partners in Care” committee. 
Jennifer was Children’s Hospital lead for the Critical Care Orientation Project (CCOP), and Children’s NICU/PICU Curriculum: A Multi-Site Collaborative to Improve Critical Care Training Outcomes. The Child Health Care Corporation of America (CHCA) collaborative is composed of 14 pediatric hospitals. The collaborative recognized Children’s Hospital as a role model for computer-based training and blended-learning strategies. 

Jennifer developed and implemented the NICU curriculum of Advanced Renal Physiology and Pathophysiology, Neonatal X-ray Interpretation, Neurological Conditions in the Neonate, Surgical Conditions, Maternal Conditions Affecting the Neonate, Umbilical Catheterization, Needle Thoracentesis, Acute Tubular Necrosis for Nephrology Care, and Specialized Care of the Neonate for PICU Basic Core. In addition to developing core curriculum, she has presented at national conference poster sessions and in the local community. 

Jennifer assisted with oversight of the “Ideal NICU” project and planning for the strategic direction of the NICU. She also provided oversight and coordination of NICU Nurse Practitioner locums and Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) students, as well as oversight of the California Children’s Services (CCS) Survey. 

Active in the community, Jennifer participates in community outreach, church activities, and nursing organizations. She spearheaded the collection of infant care supplies to contribute to Patan Hospital in Nepal this summer and developed curriculum for a three-week training program. She is a member of the Central California Association of Neonatal Nurses (CCANN) and National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN). Jennifer was recognized as Central Valley Coalition of Nursing Organization (CVCNO) Nurse of the Year for Clinical Education 2009.


Each year, Children’s Hospital Central California recognizes a Friend of Nursing. The Friend of Nursing is a non-nurse who has contributed and supported nurses in providing patient care and/or the development of processes to enhance the professional work environment for nursing. Children’s Hospital is proud to honor Cynthia (Cindy) Perkins as the recipient of “Friend of Nursing 2009.”

Cynthia Perkins, MS (Medical Librarian)

Friend of Nursing 2009

From the beginning of her career at Children’s Hospital in 2004, Cindy has proven her experience in medical and corporate libraries. She has also demonstrated leadership, communication and problem-solving skills in organizing our library to improve customer satisfaction while delivering effective research in a timely manner.

Cynthia Perkins, MSCindy developed the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) at Children’s. She organized and implemented the electronic Medical Library at Children’s by purchasing additional databases, making journals electronically available.

More importantly, Cindy has been instrumental in providing education to nursing staff regarding how to conduct literature searches to support evidenced-based practice, developing an automatic email distribution of the latest nursing research publications, and continually expanding the availability of on-line journals to meet diverse needs. She provides ongoing support to nurses seeking certification by ensuring study resource packets are available when needed. She recently was informed of 20 nurses preparing for the Certified Pediatric Nurse examination and ordered additional copies of the most frequently used references.  

Cindy supported the trial and purchasing of various nursing resources and purchased other reference texts addressing pediatric pain management to add to the Medical Library. In addition, she provides extended support to students, other disciplines and those outside the organization.   

With a “can do” attitude and an open-door policy, Cindy and the Medical Library Staff team members make it easy to request a search for the latest evidence to support practice issues.


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