Clinical Leadership Award

A Clinical Leadership winner creates innovative approaches that contribute to the improvement of the quality of nursing care, demonstrates the ability to facilitate change, uses research to enhance patient care, and participates in decision-making processes that influence positive outcomes for the patient.

The winner of this award should also promote the specialty of medical-surgical nursing.


The 2017 Clinical Leadership Award Recipient is Ann Coughlan, BSN, RN, CMSRN of Pennsylvania Hospital. She was nominated by her colleague, Ashley Stankiewicz, MSN, RN, WCC.

Ann serves as a leader and promoter for the specialty of Medical-Surgical nursing. She is a founding member of her Chapter and continues to promote and recruit her fellow nurses to present and take part in the organization and chapter.

She is known to be a creative thinker at her facility, in one instance, regarding the wellness of her fellow nurses. She performed a research project entitled “The Effects of Coloring on Medical Surgical Nurses and Staff During Their Shift” upon noticing the stress levels of fellow nurses on busy shifts. Through her research, she found a way to help nurses de-stress, which led to better patient care.

She is a known leader at her facility, where she is a member on multiple committees. She is the Chair of her facility’s unit-based Hospital Shared Governance, and co-chair of the hospital-wide Shared Governance.

Ann has served both as a preceptor and Charge nurse at her facility, and teaches student nurses who come to her unit for Clinical.  She strives to lead her unit to excellence by encouraging them to work towards unit achievements and awards. She serves as a planner for Nurses’ Week events, and assists in the selection of employee of the month.

Her compassion and leadership are exemplified in both her practice and volunteerism. Each year, Ann organizes a Volunteer Opportunity for her unit to assist a patient in need over the Holidays. Through this volunteer opportunity, she has ensured that patients who need care receive it, and even gone above and beyond to ensure her patients have the best holiday possible.  She has not only provided gifts for such patients, but has been known to take time on Holidays to spend with patients who do not have family to visit.

Ann has shown incredible dedication, passion, and of course, leadership throughout her nursing career. We are very proud to present this Prestigious award to her.

Congratulations Ann! 


The 2016 Clinical Leadership Award winner is Cyndi A. Davis, BSN, RN, CMSRN.  She is a nurse at St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Kentucky. Cyndi was nominated for this award by her colleague Sara Newberry, MSN, RN, CMSRN.

Cyndi recognizes the value of certification and has played an integral role in increasing the number of certified nurses throughout her organization. She became a CMSRN herself in 2009. She was involved with bringing the Fail-Safe program to the organization as well. Cyndi also helped establish her local AMSN chapter. She currently serves in the role of President, but has also been Vice President and Education Chair.

Cyndi values evidence-based practice and has implemented several evidence-based projects on her own unit. She worked closely with physical therapy on a mobility project to prevent delays in assessments and care with post-operative patients.

Also, Cyndi has been a part of the implementation of the new epidural pumps. She was a unit superuser/resource for the unit staff during the transition to the new pumps.

Cyndi is heavily involved with volunteerism both at her facility and in the community. In 2015, she spearheaded the unit interview committee. This committee interviews staff for unit promotions, new nurses and new nurse assistant/clericals.

Cyndi brought the first unit skills day to her organization after noticing a need for unit specific education for the staff nurses. She completed a needs assessment, recruited staff nurses to develop and teach material based on organizational policies, and tracked attendance of the staff. The unit specific skills days were such a success they have implemented these organization wide.

Cyndi is the chair of the Insulin Steering Committee. This multi-disciplinary committee addresses organizational insulin practices and the care of diabetic patients. As part of this committee, she implemented a diabetic checklist to ensure a seamless transition from hospital care to follow up with the outpatient diabetic educator for newly diagnosed diabetic patients.

She has been a member on the Clinical Ladder Committee/Nursing Excellence since its inception and is seen as an expert. She has achieved clinical ladder herself nine times.

Cyndi frequently precepts students and new graduate nurses. Cyndi is able to tailor the preceptorship to meet the needs of the preceptee. She then continues to mentor and encourage growth of those she mentored.

Lastly, in the words of her colleague, “She is not just an exceptional staff nurse on the unit, but a leader and an inspiration to those around her. A nurse’s goal is to leave the profession better than we found it--She has done this during her 28 years.”

Congratulations, Cyndi!


The 2015 Clinical Leadership Award winner is Kathy Terryah, RN, CMSRN. She is a direct care RN at Texas Health Harris Methodist Southwest (THSW) in Fort Worth, TX. Kathy was nominated for this award by her manager, Juanita Hernandez, MSN, RN, NE-BC, CMSRN.

Kathy is vocal in developing innovative approaches that contribute to the improvement of quality of nursing care, demonstrates outstanding leadership skills, and helps to facilitate positive change and patient safety. Following are some examples:

  • Started her hospitals first American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) Center for Care Innovation and Transformation (C2It) program.
  • Work on the nursing professional practice model
  • Chair of her hospitals Quality & Research Council.
  • Implemented the quarterly “quality rounds” with physicians and nursing staff  
  • Developed and introduced the Medication Safety Committee
  • Helped lead the way in improving responsiveness and purposeful rounding, clinical leader rounding, and improving communication. Improved responsiveness included having a “no pass zone” and nurse buddies. These improvements reduced unit fall rates by 47%!
  • Mentors and precepts other nurses

Kathy is also an advocate for certification and has been a CMSRN herself since 2008. She works hard to promote the specialty of medical-surgical nursing as well as certification through encouraging others to become certified. As a result, her hospital adopted the FailSafe Program last August.

Kathy has supported every positive step her unit has taken; either directly or indirectly. Her dedication is unwavering... she is loved and cherished not only by her managers and peers, but also patients and their families.

Congratulations, Kathy!


The 2014 Clinical Leadership Award winner is Ellen Moriarty, MSN, RN-BC. She is an Assistant Manager and Educator at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield Massachusetts. She was nominated for this award by her co-worker, Pamela Mozdzanowski.

Ellen has developed innovative approaches that contribute to the improvement of quality of nursing care. She is zealous in her quest for patient safety, comfort, and positive patient outcomes. Some examples follow:

  • Implemented the no pass zone on her unit, helping to decrease patient falls dramatically
  • Promoted walking rounds and bedside report, enabling nurses to get a better picture of the patient overall, checking name bands, allergies, drains, etc.
  • Assisted in trialing capnography machines on the facility’s joint replacement population, helping to identify patients with undiagnosed OSA by monitoring co2 levels thus ensuring their safety in the immediate post op period

Ellen demonstrates leadership skills in the clinical setting by providing constructive feedback – both positive and negative -- to others in a respectful manner, and she is always present for her staff. She is the first responder in any code blue, bringing her strong support, skills, and abilities to a crisis situation.
She mentors and trains others and is an exemplary role model. She coordinates and implements the necessary documentation for new employees and continually follows up with them making sure they are acclimating to the unit.

Nursing is Ellen’s heart and soul, and she gives all of herself in whatever she does. She works well over her scheduled hours and never leaves the unit until every issue or problem is solved.
She is the ultimate patient advocate, and serves as an extraordinary role model for all who work with her. Her clinical expertise, skills, and love for her profession serve as an inspiration for the novice and seasoned nurse alike.

Congratulations, Ellen!


The 2013 Clinical Leadership Award winner is Donna J. Parsons, MSN. She is a Nurse Manager at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, a Magnet facility, in Edgewood, Kentucky.

In 2011, Donna created an “Innovation Unit” on her Medical-Surgical Unit. In 2012, this unit was designated as St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s first “Innovation Unit.” Practices implemented applied strategies that were patient-focused and evidence-based.

Medical-surgical nursing is a passion for Donna. She worked closely with her director to start recognizing Medical-Surgical Nurses week at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

She has written several DAISY nominee letters, and her unit has some of the highest number of winners. Donna also promotes medical-surgical nursing as a medical-surgical nursing instructor at Northern Kentucky University.

By all accounts, Donna is an outstanding mentor and manager. She leads by example and won Nurse Manager of the Year in 2011 at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

Donna was recently recognized as a finalist in the Greater Cincinnati Business Courier Health Care Heroes awards.

Her unit consistently demonstrates outstanding quality outcomes and has received many awards, including the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Team Excellence Award three times. With over 16 years in the medical-surgical nursing profession, Donna has earned this award.

Congratulations, Donna!


The 2012 Clinical Leadership Award was presented to Nora Y. Evans, MSN, RN, CMSRN. She is a Unit Director at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) McKeesport, McKeesport, PA.

Nora developed UPMC’s original Observation Unit that has proven its worth in reducing length of stay and saving the facility thousands of dollars. She has written and revised a manual, A Journey to Develop a High Performing Team, used by all of UPMC.

She also began the Graduate Nurse (GN) residency program at UPMC McKeesport and has never lost her joy and enthusiasm in facilitating the program in the years that she has been training the new nurses. The ultimate role model, Nora leads by example and expects the same high performance from her staff. Under her leadership, many nurses have been promoted. She also has given a commencement speech at a nursing school and, along with her staff, has extended Relationship Based Care into the community by organizing several charitable endeavors.

Nora has spent 35 years in the nursing profession including the past 16 years as a Unit Director of a medical-surgical unit. Congratulations, Nora!

The Clinical Leadership Award is sponsored by Philips Healthcare.

Find out more about the (AMSN) Clinical Leadership Award.