Nine nurses named among "Great 100" in North Carolina

Nine nurses at UNC Hospitals were named among the “Great 100 nurses of North Carolina” in 2010! Our Great 100 nurses are: Kevin Brady, Janet Chadwick, Ashley Farmer, Becky Foushee, Daniella Hatfield, Maureen Heck, Kathleen Richuso, Cheryl Stewart, and Darla Topley.

Nine nurses named among "Great 100" in North Carolina click to enlarge Front row from left: Becky Foushee, Kathleen Richuso, Darla Topley, Ashley Farmer, and Daniella Hatfield. Back row from left: Cheryl Stewart, Kevin Brady, Janet Chadwick, and Maureen Heck.

Having nine nurses on the list is an honor both for the nurses and for UNC Health Care, since our nurses make up almost 10 percent of the entire “Great 100” list. The nurses will head to Greensboro on Sept. 18 for a celebration gala that will include dinner and dancing.

Congratulations to these nurses on their hard work and well-deserved recognition! Read a bit about each of our Great 100 Nurses below.

Kevin Brady, BSN, RN

Kevin is a clinical nurse III on the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit, where he’s worked since 1991. “For the most part, you’re taking care of people who’ve been fixed,” he said. “I know it’s true of a lot of body parts, but the body really can’t work if the heart’s not working.”

Kevin says that although he’s been on the same unit for 19 years, there’s a natural turnover in staff, and he gets a change of faces without having to go anywhere. “I think most people really enjoy working on this unit,” he said. “Most people who leave are leaving to go back to school.”

Kevin also enjoys getting to train nurses who are planning to go to practitioner school. “I like that it’s a teaching hospital,” he said. “And it’s not just a teaching hospital for doctors, but for nurses, too.”

Kevin went to college to major in math but realized his junior year that something was missing. He took a job as a nursing assistant in a nursing home where he had worked in high school. That job helped him realize that nursing was something he wanted to do forever. Kevin says he was very honored to be named one of the “Great 100” nurses, but that he has trouble accepting individual credit. “It’s really about where I work,” he said. “And it’s really about the team.”

Janet Chadwick, MBA, BSN, RN
Surgical Services

Janet is the director of UNC Health Care’s operating rooms, a position she’s held since 2006 when she moved to the area from Savannah, Ga. Originally from Rocky Mount, Janet moved back to North Carolina to be closer to family – and because of UNC Health Care’s overall reputation.

“There were only a few places I was willing to go, and UNC was definitely one of them,” Janet said. She may have moved here because she knew UNC was a great hospital, but Janet says she’s stayed because of the wonderful people she works with.

She also admits being shocked when she found out that she was named one of the “Great 100” nurses. “It really was a huge honor,” she said.

Janet said she became a nurse because her mother was a nurse. She joked that her mother swears that should have been reason enough to never want to be nurse, rather than the other way around. Either way, Janet’s mom must be proud of her daughter’s accomplishments.

Ashley Farmer, BSN, RN, OCN
Bone Marrow Transplant

Ashley is a clinical nurse IV on the bone marrow transplant unit, where she’s worked for seven years. She says she’s happy on her unit because of the patients she gets to work with.

“I love this population because it’s such a difficult time in their life and if I can have the opportunity to make it a little bit better, that’s what I love about my job,” Ashley said.

Since patients are on the unit an average of four to six weeks, you do really get attached, she said. “You really get to know the patients and really develop relationships with them and their families.”

Ashley also appreciates the teaching aspect of her job – which she says is especially important for bone marrow transplant patients because the entire experience is very foreign to most people.

Becky Foushee, RN, CCRN
Medicine Intensive Care Unit

Becky is a clinical nurse III in the medicine intensive care unit. She has worked at UNC since 2000 and has been a nurse for 25 years.

Though she has worked on many different units in many different roles, Becky prefers bedside nursing. “I’ve worked on the administrative side before, but I always end up coming back to bedside nursing,” she said. “It’s what I like to do. I like taking care of patients – that’s where I get my satisfaction.”

Becky is happy at UNC because nurses here, she said, are treated with respect. “I really feel like we’re listened to,” she said. “We have a voice here.”

Her own satisfaction and excitement got a jolt when she received the letter about her “Great 100” honor. “It’s just such a special recognition to me,” she said. “I was just grinning all the way back from the mailbox!”

Daniella Hatfield, BSN, RN
Cardiothoracic Stepdown Unit

Daniella is a clinical nurse IV on the Cardiothoracic Stepdown Unit (CTSU). She has worked at UNC for nine years, spending three years as a nursing assistant and six years as a nurse.

After living in the Philippines, Indonesia and England growing up, Daniella came to UNC for college and planned on going to physical therapy school, but was inspired by her father to go into nursing after he made a mid-life career change from architecture to nursing.

“I really decided nursing was the best way to really build a relationship with the patients since you get to spend so many hours with them,” she said. “I just really love it.” Daniella loves the patient population in the CTSU – it’s mostly people who are just eager to get out of the hospital and on with their lives, she said.

Her favorite thing about working at UNC, though, are her co-workers. “We have a great team,” Daniella said. “It’s changed completely since I started here, but the spirit is the same. It really is all about putting the patient first.”

Maureen Heck, BSN, RN
Surgery/Trauma Intensive Care Unit

Maureen, who is a clinical nurse III in the Surgery/Trauma Intensive Care Unit (SICU), has worked at UNC, in the SICU, for 22 years. Maureen says that she’s stayed on the unit because she never gets tired of the patient population.

The SICU sees a huge variety of conditions, she said, from oncology, to liver transplants, to trauma, and she realized a long time ago that she liked caring for surgical patients. Maureen said that she’s always wanted to be a nurse. “I just have that personality – I just always want to make people feel better when they don’t feel good,” she said.

Maureen said she couldn’t believe it when she was named one of the “Great 100.” “It was so humbling, but yet such an honor to know that the work I’ve done has made a difference to patients and peers,” she said.

One of her patients recently told Maureen that she “could see in her eyes that she still loves her job.” “That was really special to me,” Heck said. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything different.”

Kathleen Richuso, MSN, RN-BC
Nursing Professional Development, Practice & Research

Kathleen has worked in Nursing Professional Development, Practice & Research for 21 years. As a clinical nurse education specialist (CNES) covering the critical care units of the surgery and medicine service, she coordinates education and orientation for new nurses, like the Odyssey critical care residency program for new graduates and the essentials of critical care orientation (ECCO) for nurses who are new to critical care units.

Kathleen was a critical care nurse in various ICUs and PACU for many years, but was drawn especially to the teaching and educating side of the field. "I take particular joy watching nurses grow – to go from that neophyte to a year later being in charge on their unit," she said, "is wonderful to see."

Kathleen said she’s beginning to think about retirement, and that it was really an honor to be named one of the “Great 100” in North Carolina.

“You know, I’ve been a nurse for 43 years, and it just really feels good to be recognized for that.”

Cheryl Stewart, BSN, RN
5 Bedtower

Cheryl is the nurse manager of 5 Bedtower, a 36-bed unit. Most of their patients are recovering orthopedic and trauma patients, and Cheryl has a saying that they “put broken bodies back together.”

Cheryl said that her unit runs smoothly thanks to the outstanding people who work there. She tries to focus on working for her staff, rather than the other way around.  “It’s always about the patient of course, but in my position it’s not always just about the patient,” Cheryl said. “It’s about the staff, too.”

Cheryl also thinks that it’s important to enjoy coming to work every day. “I think work should be joyous and fun,” she said. “There should be laughter, but also competence and teamwork.”

Cheryl says she was very humbled and excited to find out she was named one of the “Great 100” nurses, but that from her point of view, the recognition was not earned individually, but by her entire team.

Darla Topley, MSN, RN
Surgery/Trauma Intensive Care Unit

Darla is a clinical nurse IV in the Surgery/Trauma Intensive Care Unit (SICU). She focuses on nurse education on her unit, meaning that she makes sure the nurses are up-to-date on their competencies, knowledgeable about new equipment, and that they understand complicated conditions, among other things. In simpler terms, she is a mentor for the SICU nursing staff. 

Darla said she gets a lot of pleasure out of “seeing the progress of new nursing school graduates as they come into their own and gain knowledge and confidence in their skills.”

Darla’s experience as an Air Force officer also contributes greatly to her leadership skills. She went into the military directly after nursing school to become a flight nurse. Darla served during Desert Storm and has taught a disaster care course in Nepal. She is still in the reserves, and spends six weeks a year on active duty.

“Great 100” is a grass-roots organization that works to recognize nursing excellence and provide scholarships for nursing education in the state. Each year the organization recognizes 100 nurses from all areas of nursing practice settings in North Carolina. Nurses are nominated for the award by their colleagues.

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