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Meet the Great 100

A monthly update of 10 honorees.

Each month, ADVANCE introduces readers to 10 of the 2010 Great 100 Nurses of Dallas/Fort Worth. Be inspired by their stories and get to know the passion behind each individual's nursing career. To read more about the Great 100 Nurse program, click here, where you'll also find an audio interview with Sandi McDermott, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, president of the Dallas/Fort Worth Great 100 Nurses Inc, and a photo gallery of the 20th anniversary gala.

Candace Gardner, BSN, RN, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth
Candace Gardner was inspired to pursue a nursing career by her own experience as a patient following a car accident in high school. She serves as a nurse manager for cardiac and medical telemetry at Texas Health Fort Worth. A nurse for only 7 years, she feels privileged to work at a hospital that has allowed her to advance her nursing and leadership skills during her relatively short career. Gardner helped create a retention and mentorship program for new nurse graduates. The program, which helps the new graduates get acclimated to the work environment, has been a great retention tool.   


Catherine Head, RN, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano
Having served as a preceptor, charge nurse and assistant head nurse, Catherine Head is known as a role model to her peers and the community. She currently serves as a staff nurse in Texas Health Plano's nursery. From an early age Head wanted to be a nurse like her mother and grandmother. Marrying soon after high school, she had four children. When the youngest child started first grade, she pursued a calling by entering nursing school, with her family's enthusiastic support. She considers bringing children into the world an awesome experience, and enjoys caring for infants and their families.


Donna Ingram, RN, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford (HEB)
Donna Ingram fell into nursing "by accident" when she found out a hospital would pay her to go to nursing school - and has been hooked from the first day of class. After 30 years, her passion for nursing is undimmed. A staff nurse in Texas Health HEB's Wound Care Clinic, she is known for being extremely kind and understanding of her patients' needs. When patients are discharged from the clinic, she always gives them a hug, making each patient feel very important. Her skill, ability and caring nature endear her to patients and co-workers alike.


Barbara B. Robinson, BSN, RN, VA North Texas Health Care System
Barbara Robinson has always worked in the medical field, but aspired to be an RN. She reached that goal and has been a nurse for 12 years. Now assistant nurse manger and unit educator on the 4B day surgery unit, she said she is privileged to be able to do what she enjoys most - taking care of others to earn a living. "It is an honor to have been recognized and nominated as a Great One Hundred Nurse by my colleagues," she said when told about the award. "Words are truly inadequate to express my sincere appreciation of being a recipient of this prestigious award."


David Goen, BSN, RN, Westmoreland Clinic/Metrocare
David Goen goes to work every day with one goal in mind - to make a difference in someone's life. He has worked in public mental healthcare since his college years, and is now an RN at Metrocare Services' Westmoreland Treatment Center. He is particularly drawn to providing quality public healthcare to the underserved, especially to those with mental illness. This should come as no surprise being the son of two psychiatrists practicing in public health arenas. He also is enrolled in The University of Texas at Arlington's nurse practitioner program, where he is specializing in family psychiatry and mental health.


Patience (Pat) Nwokocha, BS, RN, VA North Texas Health Care System
Pat Nwokocha has been an RN for more than 30 years, working in all areas except intensive care. Her passion for mental health nursing led her to her current position as director of the Mental Health Veterans Recovery Center, a psychological rehabilitation and recovery center program. She gets great satisfaction there by offering the full gamut of nursing services and holistic care to her patients. "I inherently possessed a sincere desire to help people and witness recovery of the sick," Nwokocha said. "However, the odors of hospitals I had visited deterred me from straightforwardly embracing such a rewarding profession. A few times during my pursuit I considered abandoning nursing because of the repugnant smells and scenes that I had to endure.  Gratefully, I knew if other people could handle it, so could I. I overcame my reservations to become a nurse."   


Kelly Kunkel, BSN, RN, Cooper & Scully, P.C.
Kelly Kunkel has been an RN for 19 years and currently practices in the field of medical malpractice defense as a legal nurse consultant. "It means the world to me that one of my peers recognized my work and input as contributing to and advancing nursing, as a profession, in a positive way," Kunkel said. "I'm blessed to have the opportunity to care for the people I have cared for and work with the people I do. It is my hope to be able to continue to contribute to the profession of nursing."


Connie Pachicano, RN, CPN, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children
For Connie Pachicano, nursing is not a job or a position - it is a vocation, a calling, a service. She believes it calls for a great love and caring for others. She serves as a level III RN on the inpatient nursing unit at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, a specialty pediatric orthopedic hospital in Dallas. "I have great love for all, especially children," she said. "It is a great honor to be recognized as one of the Dallas/Fort Worth Great 100 Nurses, and it reinforces to me that bedside nurses are not forgotten. At the bedside, you have long hours of service and dedication to the sick. You must give it your all, and you must do it with joy for the well-being of your patients. It feels so good to know that your devotion and dedication does not go unnoticed."


Eddie Martinez, BSN, RN, Plaza Medical Center Fort Worth
Eddie Martinez knew from a young age that he would be a nurse. He earned his BSN in 1996 and has experienced a variety of patient care settings, currently working in the emergency department and on an orthopedic unit. He has been both a manager and a staff nurse, and prefers providing bedside care. He simply loves being a nurse. Martinez is a favorite of the nursing students and has been voted in the top mentors for several years in a row. He also serves as a preceptor for the new grads and nurse externs. "Being a floor nurse can be very challenging," he said, "but yet it's very rewarding in which we make a difference in peoples' lives with compassion, caring, healing and being there for the patients and for each other."


Elizabeth Reed, BSN, RNC-NIC, CCE, Plaza Medical Center Fort Worth
For 29 years Elizabeth Reed has devoted her practice to influencing quality and excellence in nursing. She found her passion for infants and children early in life, and that passion has lasted her entire professional life. Even as a young teen she was determined to become a nurse, and she entered her chosen nursing program right out of high school. After obtaining her BSN she began her nursing career in a NICU, caring for the sickest and tiniest of all patients. Branching out from that, Reed also advocates for childhood protection in the community and teaches childbirth education classes. She currently serves as a nurse educator and as chair of the nursing quality council and the new state-required nurse staffing effectiveness council. She's been called the ultimate role model and mentor for other council members because she exudes high performance and leadership, while empowering others to do the same.

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