UConn Health Celebrates Its ’22 Nightingale Nurses

Among a record 25 nominees, six UConn Health nurses have been selected for 2022 Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing. Meet this year's honorees.

Ryan Massicottee at a hospital patient's bedside

Ryan Massicotte, staff nurse on the UConn John Dempsey Hospital Medicine 3 unit, is one of the six UConn Health nurses honored with 2022 Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing. (Photo by Tina Encarnacion)

As UConn Health celebrates its nurses, six have the distinction of being chosen for the 2022 Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing.

This year’s selection process may have been the most difficult in the award’s history at UConn Health, with a record 25 nominees and the persistent backdrop of COVID-19 still a major factor in how they do their jobs.

“Every single nominee submitted this year is deserving of a Nightingale award,” says Caryl Ryan, UConn John Dempsey Hospital chief operating officer and chief nursing officer. “All of the candidates are very dedicated, passionate nurses who have contributed to the profession of nursing at a very high level.”

National Nurses Week is observed May 6-12, timed to end on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the British nurse largely credited as the founder of modern nursing, May 12, 1820. UConn Health is celebrating with a series of events and acknowledgements throughout the week of May 9.

UConn Health’s 2022 Nightingale Nurses

Julie A. Burke, BSN, RN, staff nurse CN2
Radiation Oncology

“Julie is just one example of a nurse who epitomizes Florence Nightingale, reflecting tremendous strength and passion within her nursing practice,” Ryan says. “She is a dedicated, compassionate nurse who works with our most vulnerable cancer patients in radiation oncology.”

From her nomination: “Julie consistently goes above and beyond for every patient she interacts with to ensure all patients receive the best care possible. Julie coordinates and provides holistic direct care to all patients seen in radiation oncology. Julie is calm, rational, and a problem-solver. She always looks for a solution to barriers in care. Julie advocates for her patients’ needs to ensure any special considerations are taken into account when treating patients with radiation therapy.”

Elaine M. Cournean, APRN, MSN, ACHPN, movement disorders

“Elaine has just done a phenomenal job within her APRN role in the Neurology Department and in the care of the patients she specifically cares for with Parkinson’s disease,” Ryan says. “She is extremely dedicated to guiding and supporting her patients and families through very challenging lifestyle changes.”

From her nomination: “She has created, and she is the director of, the Supportive Care and Planning (SCP) clinic. The SCP clinic is a unique clinic that helps patients, families and providers identify areas of need, and that allows access to appropriate resources, which can improve their quality of life and satisfaction. The SCP clinic now serves as a model of care for other programs here at UConn that want to implement a multidisciplinary approach that goes beyond diagnosis and treatment.”

Rachel A. Crosby,  MSN, RN, CIC, infection prevention specialist

“Rachel is a nurse epidemiologist who has done an incredible job in the training and education of faculty and staff throughout the pandemic,” Ryan says. “She is truly passionate in infection control processes and very well respected by all for her expertise and clinical knowledge.”

From her nomination: “Specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic these past two years, Rachel was asked to assist in the monoclonal antibody therapy program we offer patients here and she did not hesitate to say yes. She has expressed her gratitude at being able to help this patient population through arranging the treatment for COVID-19 and just simply talking to these patients. She also led our Epidemiology team in efforts to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to our inpatient population. Her attitude is so positive and she has a can-do and will-do approach to all matters.”

Ryan M. Massicotte, BSN, RN, staff nurse CN2
Medicine 3

“Ryan graduated from UConn School of Nursing, found strength as a new graduate in his clinical practice and was soon after faced with a pandemic, in a unit that became totally biocontained,” Ryan says. “He portrayed strength, presence and a fearlessness that was well respected by his peers. Ryan is a supportive, committed leader on Medicine 3.”

From his nomination: “Ryan acknowledges the apprehension of new and soon-to-be nurses, but believes that these first experiences will help determine the types of nurses they will be for the rest of their careers. To ensure their success, Ryan teaches them to not only become proficient in the day-to-day tasks of med-surg, but challenges them to explore the ‘why’ behind every medical intervention. He also goes as far as to thoroughly review the protocols with his colleagues, and explores best practice through both clinical resources and relevant literature. Ryan’s goal is to provide the best care to the patients of UConn Health, and ensures that his fellow nurses join him in his cause.”

Kara Parker, MSN, RN, clinical nurse specialist
Intermediate Unit

“Kara is now in a clinical nurse specialist role, but at the time she was chosen as a Nightingale she was a CN3 in the Intermediate Unit, and continues to be instrumental in the mentorship and education of all staff,” Ryan says. “Kara is also the co-chair of the Shared Governance Clinical Excellence Committee, truly dedicated to improving patient outcomes and staff satisfaction.”

From her nomination: “Kara is a leading example of compassion and dedication. She takes her profession as a nurse seriously and is always looking for ways to improve not only herself but the organization in which she works… Kara is the nurse that patients and families request when they are having the worst days of their lives… She is a committed health care professional determined to provide clinical excellence with the best possible knowledge and resources in hopes to lead by example and be a role model for those quietly watching. ”

Wilfreda A. Tilley, MSN, RN, PCCN, assistant nurse manager
Intermediate Unit

“Wilfreda is an Intermediate Unit assistant nurse manager on nights, carrying a full patient assignment on many nights,” Ryan says. “She is clearly the leader of the night staff, sharing her experience, strength and passion for clinical excellence, along with always reflecting her willingness to do anything it takes to get the job done.”

From her nomination: “This individual is the ‘heartbeat’ of her unit. She is able to care for complex patients, insightful to early signs of changes in patient’s conditions. She serves in an array of additional positions, for example as a charge nurse and a preceptor. She is often sought out by her colleagues as a resource. I have personally had the pleasure of working side-by-side with her on many nights, feeling comforted and reassured when she is on knowing that those entrusted into her care will receive the best care possible. Additionally, comforted that those working alongside her will have an exceptional resource should the need arise.”