Two MGHers were among the region's top nurses honored at the New England Regional Black Nurses Association's (NERBNA) annual awards ceremony Feb. 22. Gwendolyn E. Mitchell, LPN, MEd, new patient access nurse in the MGH Gillette Breast Center for Women's Cancers, was named a recipient of the Excellence in Nursing Awards; and Deborah Washington, RN, MS, PhDc, director of Diversity for Patient Care Services (PCS), received the Presidential Award.
An MGH nurse since 1966, Mitchell has held her current position in the Cancer Center for the past 12 years. As a new patient access nurse, she works with newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, introducing them to the MGH and setting the tone for their experience at the hospital. Enormously dedicated to her patients, Mitchell's care extends beyond the walls of the MGH — for the past five years, she has participated in numerous breast cancer walks, raising more than $60,000 for research and treatment. Mitchell was an early proponent of the MGH's diversity efforts and was among a group of African-American nurses who helped form the Minority Nurses Recruitment and Retention Committee in 1989. Providing an important foundation for later MGH diversity initiatives, this committee gave voice to the personal and professional challenges faced by minority nurses at the MGH.
Washington, director of PCS Diversity since 1995, is widely known as a leader in diversity initiatives, developing the MGH's program into a highly-regarded model for similar efforts across the United States. A passionate advocate of workplace diversity and culturally competent care, she co-founded the MGH's Culturally Competent Care Curriculum, established the annual African-American Pinning Ceremony to recognize the contributions of African-American employees, developed the Hausman Student Nurse Fellowship to expand the number of minority nursing staff and recently initiated cultural rounds to better educate staff about potentially sensitive cultural issues. Washington was inaugurated as a fellow in the 2007 Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellowship Program, a prestigious three-year program for leading nurse executives, and was recognized nationally as the 2007 "Nurse of the Year" by Nursing Spectrum magazine.
HONORED: Washington, front row, third from left, and Mitchell, third from right, join fellow MGHers at the celebration.