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UCI Health announces winners of Nursing Excellence Awards

Nurse leaders, early career nurses, friends of nurses celebrated during annual event

May 20, 2024
a group of nursing excellence award attendees stand under yellow and blue balloons with gold balloon letters spelling out nurses
Celebrants at the annual Nursing Excellence Awards, which take place during Nurses Week each year.

Orange, Calif. —  Every year during Nurses Week, UCI Health honors the nurses and friends of nurses who help sustain this great organization with their commitment to excellence. Nominations were made by co-workers and reviewed by a panel of independent judges not affiliated with UCI Health.

The Nursing Excellence Awards ceremony was held on the final day of Nurses Week festivities this month.

2024 winners

  • Ambulatory Leader ― Non-Nurse of the Year: A non-nurse who leads teams in the ambulatory setting.
    Maryam Hashemi, Ambulatory Care Administration Manager, Neuro Diagnostics
  • Advanced Practice Nurse of the Year: A clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetists who exemplify quality care, nursing excellence and practice innovation.
    Robin Koeppel, DNP,CPNP-PC,CNS, RNC-NIC, C-ELBW, C-NNIC, Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist/Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Ambulatory Nurse of the Year: Nurses who guide, listen and create a bond with patients and their families in the outpatient setting.
    Erin Woocheng, RN, BSN, CCRN, Cardiac Cath Lab
  • Case Manager of the Year: Nurses who are responsible for organizing and providing care coordination and transition services to patients.
    Yerika Cesti, BSN, RN, Interventional Radiology, Case Manager
  • Friend of Nursing ― Non-Patient Care: Non-nurse individuals who work behind the scenes to enhance patient care and improve outcomes.
    Akimbi Jeffers, Executive Assistant
  • Friend of Nursing ― Patient Care: Non-nurse members of the patient care team who serve as resources and improve quality outcomes.
    Manny (Luis) Gonzalez, Orthopedic Technician, CAC Ortho/Spine
  • Inpatient Nurse of the Year: Nurses who provide comfort at the bedside and educate their patients to help them live their healthiest lives.
    Shilpa Valand, BSN, RN, CMSRN, 5T
  • Medical Assistant of the Year: Assistants who work with the nursing and medical team to improve patient care and quality outcomes.
    Ruth Aguilar, Medical Assistant, Cancer Center, Neuro-Oncology
  • Nurse Educator of the Year: Registered professional nurses who redefine processes, document educational program outcomes and guide individuals through the learning process.
    William Wallach-Santos, MSN, RN, CEN, TCRN, MICN, Clinical Nurse Educator, Emergency Services, Nursing Quality, Research & Education
  • Nurse Manager of the Year: The person responsible for nursing practice and quality of care among frontline nurses in a single unit or department.
    Gregory Mignano, MS, RN, CNN, Nurse Manager, Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Inpatient Dialysis Services
  • Nurse Navigator of the Year: Nurses who coordinate primary and specialty care to assist in managing health issues or surgical needs.
    Jenny Leynes, BNS, RN, Cardiac Cath Lab
  • Nursing Leader of the Year: Individuals who inspire and influence teams to maintain the highest standards of patient care.
    Leticia Weatrowski, BSN, RN, CCRN, Cardiovascular Surgical Unit, DH44
  • Nursing Assistant of the Year: Assistants work closely with nurses, patients and their families to ensure their comfort.
    Gloria Gonzalez-Ruiz, Senior Hospital Assistant, 4T
  • Preceptor/Mentor of the Year: Preceptors guide new hires and nurses in their learning. Mentors are role models who counsel and develop their nurse colleagues and ensure a healthy work environment.
    Sarah Landrum, RN, Emergency Department
  • Procedural Nurse of the Year: Nurses who provide care for patients seeing specialty services to assess, listen, guide and form a bond with the patient and their family.
    Rea Lainez, BSN, RN, CNOR, Operating Room
  • Rookie of the Year: Early career nurses who face the challenges of their new role with an inquisitive mind, can-do attitude and an openness to learn.
    Colby Wooding, BSN, RN, Trauma Neuro, DH48/58
  • Nursing Director of the Year: Nurse leaders who provide leadership that engages nurses and decision-making partners, coaches and supports professional growth and provides resources and tools to deliver high-quality care.
    Janice White, DNP, RN, CCRN, Director, Medical/Surgical Nursing

About UCI Health

UCI Health is the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine, and the only academic health system based in Orange County. UCI Health is comprised of its main campus, UCI Medical Center, a 459-bed, acute care hospital in in Orange, Calif., four hospitals and affiliated physicians of the UCI Health Community Network in Orange and Los Angeles counties and ambulatory care centers across the region. Listed among America’s Best Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for 23 consecutive years, UCI Medical Center provides tertiary and quaternary care and is home to Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centerhigh-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma centergold level 1 geriatric emergency department and regional burn center. UCI Health serves a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.