3rd Simon Award Honors Leaders in Nursing and Postdoctoral Training

Nurse Manager Susan Bongiorni and Graduate Medical Education Director Martha Wilkie share the 2022 Dr. Richard Simon Excellence in Clinical Neurosciences Award.

Susan Bongiorni and Martha Wilke portait collage

Susan Bongiorni (left), procedural services nurse manager, and Martha Wilkie, Graduate Medical Education director, are the 2022 winners of the Dr. Richard Simon Excellence in Clinical Neurosciences Award. (Left photo by Tina Encarnacion; right photo, file)

Their contributions take different paths, but for both Sue Bongiorni and Martha Wilkie, their paths lead to the Dr. Richard Simon Excellence in Clinical Neurosciences Award.

Bongiorni is a nurse manager who oversees several of the UConn John Dempsey Hospital’s procedural areas, including the electrophysiology lab, the cardiac catheterization lab, interventional radiology, the pre-operative area, and the post-anesthesia care unit. She is involved both before and after surgeries.

“Her leadership in the IR/cath lab also has a direct impact on our stroke program. She never hesitates to provide staffing for emergency thrombectomy cases that are done in the hybrid [operating] room, even if it means that she has to go to IR and cover as a front-line caregiver,” according to her nomination.

“I am very grateful and humbled to be considered for this award,” Bongiorni says. “I feel truly honored and appreciated for this recognition.”

Dr. Simon portrait
Dr. Richard Simon, UConn Health medical chief of staff (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

This is the third year UConn Health has presented the Simon award to recognize a “clinician, staff member, or student who exemplifies excellence in any area of the neurosciences at UConn Health.” Simon is a professor of surgery in the Division of Neurosurgery and the UConn John Dempsey Hospital’s chief of medical staff. He has been a member of the UConn School of Medicine faculty for four decades.

The co-winner for 2022 takes a less traditional road to this accolade. Wilkie is director of the UConn School of Medicine Graduate Medical Education program.

“Martha’s tireless efforts pertaining to the residency programs of all the GME programs provides the infrastructure for optimal clinical functioning and education. This in turn leads to exemplary clinical care. This important recognition serves to not only recognize our clinical initiatives, but also recognize the importance of our educational mission in optimizing the clinical initiatives,” say her nominating colleagues.

“It is truly an honor to be included among such admirable company,” Wilkie says. “I have the opportunity to collaborate with the best of the best in clinical and educational leadership, residents/fellows, and staff in many disciplines at UConn Health. I can honestly say that it has been an absolute pleasure to work with such a remarkable and talented group of people for the past 14 years. I am excited to see where the future leads us.”

Dr. Hilary Onyiuke, professor of neurosurgery and founder and co-director of UConn Health’s Comprehensive Spine Program, leads the selection committee, which includes leadership from the Division of Neurosurgery, the Department of Neurology, and the neuroradiology section of the Department of Radiology.

“I am grateful to Dr. Onyiuke for leading the committee and grateful to the committee members for selecting two truly outstanding individuals for this award,” says Dr. Ketan Bulsara, chief of the UConn Health Division of Neurosurgery. “This award is very special because it honors the founding operating neurosurgeon at UConn Health/University of Connecticut.”