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Michelle Beaver

EndoNurse editor Michelle Beaver is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She's won several state and national journalism awards, including a national first-place for in-depth reporting from the Scripps Howard Foundation. She has written for two wire services, several newspapers and magazines.

Endo MVP 2012: Meet the Winners

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EndoNurse has a long tradition of honoring the best endoscopy professionals. Thousands of online votes have been tallied and the winner is ... Donna Dickinson! Second place goes to Shelly Hoffman. Third place: Ismeal Rivas.

Congrats to these top three!

The runners up are Zeinab Mustafa (fourth place) and Lynne Thomas (fifth place). Renimole Sebastian was only a few votes behind Lynne Thomas.

Sorry, Renimole! Better luck next year. Please note that anyone can be nominated again, as long as they've never won first place in our contest. And, new this year: the nominees can be from any country. The top five have bios below, and each receives a certificate. The top three receive gift cards as well.

Congratulations to these winners!

1. Donna Dickinson

Donna Dickinson, RN, AD, clin 2, is an endoscopy staff nurse at Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center, in Mechanicsville, Va., and at her facility, she's been considered an MVP long before winning this contest, according to her nominator, Charlotte Timberlake-Torseth, RN, a staff nurse at Bon Secours. Donna has been published in multiple publications, such as The American Journal of Gastroenterology, and Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, and has written about topics from gastroesophageal reflux and gastric biopsy to hernias and high-resolution manometry and endoscopy.

Donna was the first endoscopy nurse in the state of Virginia to provide high-resolution manometry (Manoscan 360). She set up and now maintains the high-resolution manometry service at Bon Secours MRMC endoscopy, as well as esophageal, impedance, anal-rectal, and 24-hours PH monitoring. Donna is also a credential trainer for Medivators AER (automatic endoscopy repressors).

She reviews and updates current reprocessing procedures and performs annual staff evaluations following the compliance of standards of care. A partnering ambulatory surgery center just obtained a new Medivators AER and Donna has assisted in setting up policy and procedures for it, as well as staff training. She has presented educational research posters at Digestive Disease Week and at the Bon Secours endoscopy conference. Additionally, Donna gives talks to the new hires on manometry during their orientation. She has also assisted with a Medical Explorer program by organizing and presenting an educational station to high-school students who are interested in a possible career in the health profession.  

And as if all that's not enough, Donna is part of a team of endoscopy nurses who are presenting a Power Point presentation on colorectal-cancer screening for Grand Rounds. According to her nominator, Timberlake-Torseth, "Donna Dickinson is a busy and accomplished nurse. Her hard work, dedication, and friendliness have made her our MVP." Donna told the staff of EndoNurse magazine that she is excited about her standing in the EndoNurse MVP contest.

"When I was nominated for MVP by one of my co-workers, Charlotte Timberlake-Torseth, I was thrilled and just so touched that she thought of me for this honor," Donna said. "The rest of the endoscopy team here at Memorial Regional Medical Center was so encouraging and supportive of me as well. When I read the information about the other nurses nominated, I realized the competition to make to the top five would be stiff. I never really believed that I would make it to this point!"

And not only did she make it to the top five, she won! When Donna started in her nursing career, she worked in med-surg, and then moved to the ICU, OR and PACU.

"I realized that what made me happiest was getting my patients well and sending them home to their loving families," she said. "Conversely, what made me sad was seeing preventable, treatable disease processes progress into serious conditions before the patient sought healthcare. It was then that I realized that I wanted to be on the wellness end of the healthcare continuum."

Donna said she felt that endoscopy would be a "great place to fulfill my desire to educate the public on preventative healthcare measures as well as work in a growing field where skilled care was greatly needed. One of the best aspects of being a nurse is the opportunity to teach, learn and grow all through your career."  

Donna is very active in community programs and jumps at opportunities to share information on how, when, and why people need to get their screening colonoscopy. "However, as we all know, endoscopy nursing is far more expansive than just colonoscopy procedures," she said. "I have worked in many aspects of this field and have focused more on manometry procedures in the last five years as this is a growing need for our patient population."

She added that the ability to be part of a team dedicated to diagnosing, treating and preventing serious, life-threatening conditions is why she is an endoscopy nurse.

"I strive to be that person who goes the extra mile for my patients, co-workers and peers so that we can all give excellent care to those in need each and every day," Donna added.

Congratulations to the winner of our 2012 contest!

2. Shelly Hoffman 

"Shelly is the best director I've ever worked with," said Mary Rustick of GI Associates Endoscopy Center in Wausau, Wis. Shelly Hoffman, RN, BSN, is not only recognized for her endoscopic talent, but also her encouraging personality. Rustick said Shelly's presence at the GI Associates Endoscopy Center is one of the main reasons why she loves her job. She described Shelly's personality as warm and compassionate, and her attitude as reassuring.

"She comes to work every day with a smile on her face and infuses all of us with it," Rustick said. "She deeply cares about each and every one of us as well as all of our patients."

Rustick explained that Shelly's attitude in the workplace has made her a role model for staff members and other physicians. It also has earned her much respect and praise from patients.

"She is an invaluable resource and mentor to all of us on a daily basis," Rustick said. "She strives every day to help each and every one of us be successful in our roles."

Rustick has personally benefitted from Shelly's mentoring. Her new role in infection control has gone more smoothly thanks to Shelly's unwavering assistance. Also, Rustick said Shelly makes the work environment a fun and uplifting place to be.

"She always encourages us to have fun and keeps things light," Rustick said. "When things get rough she pitches right in to help us all out."

Shelly's true dedication is shown through her willingness to assist everyone at the center. No matter how much work or pressure she is under, Shelly never fails to lend a helping hand to those in need, according to Rustick. Her "open door" policy and flexibility encourages everyone to not hesitate with questions or concerns.  

"The GI Associates Endoscopy Center physicians and staff are very lucky to have her," Rustick added. magazine that she is humbled to have progressed so high in the contest. Shelly told us, "First, I am honored to be nominated, and am flattered that one of my staff would make the effort to fill out the nomination form and then fill the form with such kind words," Shelly said. "Second, to know that I received enough votes to be considered in the top-five is a pleasant surprise—I never would have thought!"  

Being a classic team player, Shelly attributes her success to her whole endoscopy center.   

"I consider it [a privilege] to work with the nurses, techs, physicians and leadership that I interact with on a daily basis," Shelly said.  

She added that she loves her job, and not just because of the daily duties associated with it, but because she is "fortunate to work each day with a group of dedicated professionals who choose to give it their all to care for our patients and make each patient feel they are special to us. We are a great team, because of the compassion every member offers every patient."  

Shelly finds it interesting to deal with the vast array of patients seen in endoscopy.  

"Our patients range from those without any apprehension to those that are deeply fearful of undergoing procedure," she said. "I find it very gratifying to be able to alleviate the fears of our patients, offer them as pleasant experience as we are able and know they will not hesitate to come back to us should the need arise."

The relatively brief visit that each patient has offers the opportunity to meet many people each day, according to Shelly.

"They may be anxious, fearful, comedic or very quiet, but all have a need for compassionate care," she said. "I love the opportunity to turn their perceived fearful procedure into a simple, easy test day. Then, at the end of the patient care day, it is such a gratifying feeling to know I gave the best care possible and our endo team worked together to make it all happen. In the end, we give our patients great care—and we are all made better for our experience. What’s not to love!?"

Of course, it's not just the patients who are important. It's also the staff.

"My most important responsibility as a leader in our group is to make our work environment as amiable as possible, with opportunity for each and every staff member to grow in their personal and professional life," Shelly said. "I find great satisfaction in seeing potential for growth amongst my staff—and enabling them to excel—whether it is learning a new role, successfully completing a project or growing as a leader or resource person for our group."  

Shelly's proudest moments happen when she sees that she's helped one of her colleagues gain confidence in themselves.

"There is nothing better than seeing the pride that someone feels," she said, "and to know I had a small part in their success."

3. Ismeal Rivas

Ismeal is an endoscopy technician at North Orange County Surgery Center, in Anaheim, Calif., and has many talents, according to his colleagues.

"'Ish' as we call him, is one of the hardest-and-most-dependable workers you will ever meet," said his nominator, Karen LaBonte, nurse manager. "From GI tech-ing to building maintenance, Ish does it all." Ismeal's strong work ethic has brought him to the center during the middle of the night because an alarm has gone off, on nights and weekends to do extra cleaning, and after hours to assist others who need access to the center. One of his many strengths is that he works well with patients, physicians and staff.

"He has a kind reassurance about him that makes our patients comfortable. Ish's energy and leadership skills motivate others around him," LaBonte said. Physicians like working with him and are confident in his knowledge and skills as a GI technician, his colleagues reported.

"Most importantly, he sets a high standard for others on how patient care is given," LaBonte added. "He also sets a standard on how to maintain our equipment and center. He takes care of our center like it is his own, being mindful of cost-saving measures without compromising quality patient care."

Ismeal is always willing to do anything his job requires and is motivated to learn other areas of the facility, including most recently, the operating room.

"As a manager, Ish is an employee that not only makes my job easier, but gives me the confidence that our patients are receiving the highest quality care they can receive, along with outstanding patient satisfaction," LaBonte concluded.

Ismeal said he gets "great satisfaction" in helping patients with their health concerns.

"I also enjoy helping my patients ease their worries by making them feel comfortable," he said. "I reassure them they are in great hands, and the end result of their surgery/procedures will be a positive one for their well-being."

Ismeal is a fan of endoscopy because endoscopy allows medical professionals to see diseases, cancers, and other illnesses that otherwise could have gone untreated.

"It also allows us to save lives immediately," he said. "For example, for patients who have GI bleeds, we can effectively do banding and ligation procedures. We have also helped diagnose conditions, such as colon cancer, that require early diagnosis in order for treatments to be successful in saving patients' lives. Endoscopy is invaluable in having healthier patients."

Ismeal's advice for endoscopy professionals is to learn the procedures well and learn the doctor's techniques so that said person can anticipate the doctor's needs.

"I would also advise the nurses to be more aware of the patients' concerns during the pre-op and post-op stages," he said. "By being a good listener and making them feel comfortable, you will help create a supportive environment for the doctors and the patients."

4. Zeinab Mustafa 

Zeinab Mustafa, BSN, MSN, is the president of the Sudanese Association of Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Nurses (SAGEN), which was established in 2005. Zeinab is also head nurse of the endoscopy and GI bleeding center at the Ibn Sina National Centre of Gastroenterology, in Khartoum, Sudan, in Africa, and is helping to advance endoscopy there.

She worked "very hard" in organizing the GI endoscopy nurses as a society, and the endoscopy unit of Ibn Sina National Centre of Gastroenterology has become the training center for all endoscopy nurses in the Sudan, according to Zeinab's nominator, Debbie Den Boer, BSN, RN, who works in GI motility research at UCSD Medical Center, San Diego, Calif. Den Boer took an aid trip to the Sudan and worked with Zeinab there.

"Nurses in training will spend a couple of weeks in the unit, learning all aspects of diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy," Den Boer said. "With the support of her physicians and hospital she has been able to send her staff to well-known endoscopy centers in Europe, as well as Japan, so that her unit could serve as a training and resource center for her colleagues in the Sudan."

Through both her roles Zeinab is extremely busy, but manages to arrange monthly scientific meetings, paper presentations, workshops and hands-on opportunities to improve the standard of patient care and overall safety in endoscopy units in the Sudan. As guidelines for standards of care, Zeinab uses and promotes the SGNA guidelines among her colleagues. Her goal as president of SAGEN and as a passionate endoscopy nurse is to share valuable information with endoscopy nurses and assistants in neighboring African countries, to improve the overall standards in nursing and in infection control.   

"The endoscopy staff as well as the physicians of her unit, and the matron of nursing of Ibn Sina hospital, see her as a tireless leader and visionary who needs to be recognized and encouraged in this monumental task," Den Boer added.

Zeinab sees much merit in being a nurse.

"I believe that the best aspects of being a nurse is to experience that nursing is an art mixed with scientific knowledge," Zeinab said. "The nurse must be knowledgeable and have an extreme sense of beauty when performing any procedure and managing her patients."

In particular, she appreciates the endoscopy sector of nursing.

"Endoscopy is a procedure that is either diagnostic, therapeutic, or both, and the effect on the patient can be so immediate," Zeinab. "The nurses play an important, all-encompassing role, physically, mentally and technically in assisting with endoscopic procedures."  

Zeinab has had many proud moments in her career, and several center round seeing junior endoscopy and gastroenterology nurses who she has trained advance into performing their work successfully throughout Sudan. Thanks to the training these new nurses receive from Zeinab and colleagues through Ibn Sina Hospital, Zeinab gets to have these proud moments every year.

5. Lynne Thomas 

Lynne Thomas, BSN, RN, CGRN, is the vice president of education for Integrated Medical Systems International, Inc., and is a patient advocate for safety and infection prevention. When working as a staff nurse and a manager, Lynne understood patient fears and the complication of endoscopic procedures, said her nominator, Rose Seavey, MBS, BS, CNOR, CRCST, CSPDT, president and CEO of Seavey Healthcare Consulting, Inc.

"Lynne is the go-to-person for endoscopy if I have any questions or issues regarding endoscopes. She willingly shares her knowledge and expertise with all levels of healthcare workers," Seavey added.

Lynne is involved with national educational outlets focusing on education toward patient safety, care and handling of endoscopes and equipment. She is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), and is currently working with committees that are developing recommended practices.

Most recently, she was involved in the AAMI task group for the development of a new AAMI technical information report on endoscope reprocessing. Lynne stays current on all standards and recommended practices from the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA), the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

Whenever asked a question, she readily answers and cites where that recommendation came from and the meaning behind it. In addition, Lynne has lectured and has written articles on topics relating to endoscopes and endoscopic procedures. According to Seavey, "She is the gold standard of what makes the endoscopy work successful."

To Lynne, the best part of being a nurse is its humanitarian aspect.

"My early nursing career began as many other little girls who grew up to be nurses; I wanted to make people feel better," Lynne said. "I started the profession as a bedside care-giver who learned to build a relationship with patients and their families while providing care. That was followed by the opportunity to build relationships in endoscopy. Here the time spent with patients was measured in hours, not days. But many endoscopy patients had chronic or recurring issues so I was still able to see them often."

It was also in the endoscopy department where Lynne's saw some of the best teamwork she'd encountered between nurses and physicians. Endoscopy afforded a better quality of life in many ways, she concluded.

"When I began my work as an endoscopy nurse in the mid-1980s I loved the fact that early polyp detection and removal could eliminate colon cancer, that endoscopic extraction of gallstones immediately decompressed the bile duct and eliminated pain, and that dilating an esophagus could allow for better nutritional intake," she said.  

Lynne believes that endoscopy nursing often provides a sense of immediate gratification.

"While all of these are still important, they have been joined by more sophisticated non-invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures that would have been labeled 'endoscopic science fiction' back then," Lynne added. "I love that endoscopy is a specialty that is constantly growing and offers challenges to grow with dynamic innovations which will continue to have more impact in the lives of patients."

The recommendation that Lynne has for endoscopy professionals is to never stop growing.

"Even though your day may seem like it’s filled with the same types of patients who receive the same type of care, there’s always something unique you can learn from each of them that may be useful to you or others when encountering other patients. Be proud of what you do and share with your colleagues in your department and/or professional society what you have learned that could impact the care of other endoscopy patients."

One of Lynne's proudest moments as a nurse was when a hospital with an identified breach asked her to perform a risk assessment. The team also asked her to assist in creating processes that would eliminate the potential for similar breaches.

Lynne is also proud of her MVP ranking.

"It is an honor to have been selected in the top five, out of so many talented and skilled people, and to be included among some of the top professionals in our field," Lynne said. "But also, I am so grateful for the opportunity to motivate and encourage other equally valuable endoscopy professionals with this honor."

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