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Nurses recognized by peers

Nurses Week is a time when MUSC celebrates the hard work and tireless hours put in by its registered nurses. Instead of honoring just one “Nurse of the Year,” winners were selected in four categories: nurse manager, staff nurse, other support nurse and resource nurse.

The 2009 Nurses of the Year are (back row) Melinda Biller, right, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Nurse Manager of the Year; Pamela Srinivas, Therapeutic Services, Physical Therapy, Resource Nurse of the Year; (front row) Sherri Jowers, right, Hospital Options Pool, Staff Nurse of the Year; and Katie Vriezen, Pediatric Hematology Oncology, Support Nurse of the Year.

Nurses were chosen by their peers during the nomination period, which ran from March 30 until April 8. The five nurses with the most votes for each category were selected. Online voting took place April 15 - April 22. The winners of each of the four categories were honored at a ceremony May 6.
All nominees had to be registered nurses in their current position for at least one year; were respected and admired by patients, families, workers and students; always adhered to MUSC Standards of Behavior; couldn’t be under current disciplinary action; and employed by MUHA in a permanent position.
The following is a special question/answer section with the four nurses of the year: Melinda Biller, R.N., Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Nurse Manager of the Year; Sherri Jowers, R.N., Hospital Options Pool (HOP), Staff Nurse of the Year; Katie Vriezen, R.N., Pediatric Hematology Oncology, Support Nurse of the Year; and Pamela Srinivas, R.N., Therapeutic Services, Physical Therapy, Resource Nurse of the Year.

How long have you been at MUSC?
“I have been at MUSC for more than 13 years. I started my nursing career here and have been here ever since. I chose MUSC because of my desire to work with children and because of the wonderful things that the Children’s Hospital does for them.”—Jowers
“I have been at MUSC off and on for 18 years. I began my health care career at MUSC in 1991 as a pediatric social worker. I worked as a social worker in CH for seven years, and then went to nursing school. Since that time, I have worked on 7A, for LifePoint doing organ procurement, and the PICU.” —Biller

What made you choose nursing?
“I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else! My father would love to answer this question. He tells a story about me carrying around my toy medical kit (while wearing my cowboy boots) and “taking care of” every dog, cat, bird and small child I could find; whether they needed it or not. I thank my mother for inspiring me to be a nurse. She takes care of everyone around her and is concerned for their well being, emotional and physical health.” —Srinivas

“I was a pediatric patient for most of my childhood and was taken care of by very dedicated nurses. I always knew that I wanted to be a nurse and give back a little of what had been given to me and my family.” —Vriezen

How does it make you feel to win this award, which reflects the respect and admiration of your peers?
“I feel overwhelmed to be singled out for this award, because I know that I could not do my job without the help of my fellow wound care nurses, as well as each and every nurse here at MUSC…To be given that kind of trust and cooperation from one’s peers is a very humbling experience.” —Srinivas
“I am overwhelmed that my staff would nominate me for this award. The PICU nurses are such a special group of people, and I feel lucky to work with them every day. To be recognized by the nursing staff is very moving.” —Biller

What is the best part of your job? What is the most challenging?
“The best parts are definitely my awesome nurses and management team that I have the privilege of working with every day. The most challenging is trying to balance my responsibilities in a way that enables the very best resources for my nurses, patients and families.” —Vriezen
“The best part about my job is seeing a very sick child go home with his or her family well and to know that I had a part in it. It is very rewarding to see that happen. The hardest part is dealing with a child that you know will never be well again…Having kids of my own, it is sometimes hard not to put myself in the parents’ place and become very emotional.” —Jowers

Any advice for up-and-coming nurses?
“I think that to succeed in nursing, one must avoid becoming cynical. Yes, it is easy to feel like you do the same things over and over, sometimes without seeing a result or an improvement. Every day you can learn something new that may be the one thing that helps your next patient…Once you find what interests you, learn as much about that field of nursing as you can!” —Srinivas

“If you don’t love what you do, you won’t last long. Find a place in nursing that brings you purpose, and you will continue to grow for the rest of your career.” —Biller

What is a normal day for you?
“Spending time in each of the clinics checking in with the nurses and families, a couple meetings, and (on the best kind of days) some patient care.” —Vriezen

“A normal day for me never seems quite normal. I work at night so my day starts at 7 p.m. Also, I am in the HOP pool, so I never know where I may end up. I may start on one unit, and if another unit ends up having a greater need for a nurse during the night, I may be pulled there. I get reports on my patients and then take care of all of their needs and their families’ needs for 12 hours. I also admit new patients if I am needed to, and help the other nurses if I am able.” —Jowers

Nurses Week May 6 - 12
Building a Healthy America

May 6: 9 to 11 a.m.—Nurse of the Year Ceremony and Recognition of RNIII, Certifications, Military Nurses with Speaker, St. Luke's Chapel; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.—massages for registered nurses, Children's Hospita lobby, Institue of Psychiatry and Ashley River Tower (ART); Noon to 1 p.m.—“Introduction to Research: What you need to know,” 2W classroom

May 7: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.—Education and Professional Organization Fair,  Children's Hospital lobby; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.—Nurse Appreciation Flower Sale, Children's Hospital lobby; Noon to 1 p.m.—Success Center and You at MUSC

May 8: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.—Nurse Appreciation Flower Sale, Children's Hospital lobby; Noon to 1 p.m.—“Inspired Nurse” webinar, 2W Classroom and ART Auditorium

May 9: 6 to 8 p.m.—Florence Nightingale's Traveling Party, ART Auditorium, and 5 to 7 p.m., 2W classroom

May 11: 10 a.m. to noon—Poster Day, ART Atrium; 1 to 2 p.m.—Medication Error Prevention: Principles in adverse event analysis, ART Auditorium

May 12: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.—Nurses walk, MUSC campus, start at ART.

For information, e-mail

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.