Nurses from three separate areas at UConn Health will share the 2023 Dr. Richard Simon Excellence in Clinical Neurosciences Award: Tara Holm, Jennifer Pickert, and Meagan Zolla.
Established in 2020, the honor recognizes 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.
Holm has been a staff nurse in the operating room since joining UConn Health in 2019.
From her nomination:
“She is a tremendous, energetic and extremely dedicated OR nurse… We can always count on Tara to be detail-oriented, proactive, prepared, and ready to help and troubleshoot whenever she can. She somehow masterfully manages her assigned OR room but goes above and beyond by making herself available to help troubleshoot issues or help in other rooms as well… I think we must recognize and honor the stellar example Tara sets.”
“I am so grateful and humbled to receive this award,” says Holm, who plans to continue in the OR after finishing her training to become a family nurse practitioner later this year. “I feel so fortunate to truly love what I do every day. I will continue to provide the highest-quality patient care for UConn’s multidisciplinary neurosurgical and stroke team.”
Pickert, a staff nurse in clinical neurophysiology and the Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Clinic, joined UConn Health in 2015 and saw patients in the emergency department for her first four years.
From her nomination:
“While working with our Parkinson’s disease population, she recognized the need for patient advocacy and established herself as the designated Parkinson’s Foundation’s patient ambassador. She actively participates in educating the patients and staff members regarding care for Parkinson’s patients in an inpatient environment. She continues to be an avid patient advocate. In the last year, Jennifer has played a vital role in the interdisciplinary Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Clinic, and helps coordinate care for patients among different specialties.”
“I am so honored to be chosen as one of the recipients to receive this award,” Pickert says. “It is my privilege to support patients throughout the Normal Hydrocephalous Clinic process. As an alumni and employee, I am ‘Husky Proud’ to be part of an interdepartmental collaboration of expertise that brings the true meaning of teamwork to deliver the best possible care to our patients.”
Zolla is the assistant nurse manager for the perioperative services department , a role she’s held since 2019 after joining UConn Health as a staff nurse in 2016.
From her nomination:
“She is an effective perioperative team leader who works in collaboration with management, anesthesia, surgeons and staff to successfully provide high-quality, safe and competent care to every patient… During the post-operative phase of care, her clinical expertise has allowed her to identify clinical issues early on, preventing complex complications… She is the ultimate patient advocate at a time when patients are most vulnerable.”
“I am incredibly honored and humbled to have been chosen as a recipient of the Dr. Richard Simon Neuroscience Award,” Zolla says. “I am grateful every day to be a part of this team, and to be able to offer my contribution in the care of neurosurgical patients.”
The selection committee, which includes leadership from the Division of Neurosurgery, the Department of Neurology, and the neuroradiology section of the Department of Radiology, is chaired by Dr. Hilary Onyiuke, professor of neurosurgery and founder and co-director of UConn Health’s Comprehensive Spine Program.
“We received outstanding nomination letters from within and outside the institution for very competitive candidates, and truly applaud the distinguished members of the committee in coming up with the final selection list of candidates,” Onyiuke says.
“We are grateful to Dr. Onyiuke for chairing the selection committee for this award, which not only celebrates the excellence in clinical neurosciences at UConn Health, but also honors Dr. Simon, the first operative neurosurgeon at the University of Connecticut,” says Dr. Ketan Bulsara, chief of the UConn Health Division of Neurosurgery.