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Eight Nurses at Rush Named Emerging Nurse Leaders

Rush University Medical Center is well-positioned to make a significant impact on the future of nursing and health care in Illinois, with eight recipients of the Illinois Nurses Foundation’s 2020 40 Under 40 Emerging Nurse Leader Award winners practicing and teaching at the Medical Center.

The award highlights and celebrates young nurse leaders who are making an impact on health care and the nursing profession today and who will shape the future of the profession. Rush has more of its nurses among the recipients of this year’s award than any other institution.

The Illinois Nurses Foundation will hold a virtual celebration of this year’s emerging nurse leaders on Sept. 17 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. There is no fee to register for the event.

The following nurses were honored.

Ma. Eliza Michaela Alcantara, BSN, RN, Medical Surgical Unit

A member of her unit’s advisory and education committees, Alcantara regularly volunteers at a soup kitchen and collects, wraps and delivers toiletries for Franciscan Outreach, a homeless services organization near the Medical Center. She is the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses Information Session Representative to Rush and was the photographer and media representative for a Night at the Museum (International Surgical Science Museum) event during the 28th Annual AMSN National Convention in Chicago last September. She serves on the advisory committee for Hektoen Nurses and Humanities and curated the digital catalog for its rescheduled exhibit “Nurses Relaxation and Renewal Through the Arts,” organizing the submissions of more than 100 nurses.

Elisabeth Barrett, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, CNL, Instructor, Rush University College of Nursing Department of Adult Health and Gerontological Nursing

As part of the College of Nursing’s faculty practice, Barrett has worked as a family nurse practitioner for the past two years at the Sue Gin Health Center at Oakley Square, a mixed-income residential complex on Chicago’s West Side. She has assumed the management and coordinator roles of the clinic, where she provides holistic care for vulnerable populations. As the Vaccines for Children Clinic Coordinator, she ensures compliance and communication with local and national standards required for a free vaccination program for uninsured and underinsured youth. As an instructor, Barrett serves as a leader and advisor to future registered nurses and leaders in health care. In the past four years, she has advised on more than 40 capstone projects for students.

Mackenzie Elaine Bauhs, BSN, RN, CWON, CMSRN, General Surgery

Bauhs understands the unique challenges of colorectal surgery patients and has worked tirelessly to provide them the care they need in order to achieve the best possible outcomes. Many patients were calling from home with problems with their ostomy pouch or were admitted because there was confusion about when to notify their care provider of high volume output. Bauhs realized that many of these problems could be managed by revising the process and tools used for patient education. After colorectal surgery patients were included in formalized ostomy education and an enhanced recovery after surgery program, which Bauhs spearheaded (along with ERAS program colleagues) the patients’ rates of surgical site infections and emergency department visits within 30 days of surgery both decreased dramatically.

Emily Brey, MSN, RN, APRN, AGCNS-BC, CDCES, Professional Nursing Practice

Brey co-chairs the Medical Center’s Patient Education Planning and Development Committee and was instrumental in the implementation of a new computerized patient education program. She reviews safety events related to hypoglycemia or gaps in practice related to diabetes care and takes the initiative to find and address their causes. Brey created a diabetes champion role to help improve patient care and decrease hypoglycemic rates. She also was integral to a workflow change in many departments related to coordination of blood glucose monitoring, food tray delivery and insulin administration, which contributed to a significant reduction of the departments’ hypoglycemia rates from December 2018 to November 2019.

Amanda LaMonica-Weier, DNPc, MSN, RN, MAT, CMSRN, CNL, Instructor, Rush University College of Nursing Department of Adult Health and Gerontological Nursing

For the past four years, LaMonica-Weier has been an instructor in the College of Nursing’s Generalist Entry Master’s program for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to pursue a career in nursing. She teaches and assesses graduate-level nursing students in their first and second terms of medical-surgical clinical courses. She leads and evaluates the health assessment lab by reinforcing objectives covered in the linked didactic course. Importantly, she serves as an advisor to students throughout their course of study by discussing career goals and providing them with resources to overcome obstacles. She also is the Global Health Committee Chair of the local chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing and has been the triage charge nurse for annual medical service trips to Guatemala.

Raymond Ledda, MSN, RN, CRRN, Unit Director, Rush Rehabilitation

Ledda played a pivotal role in the Medical Center’s response to COVID-19. He opened and managed several temporary units utilizing the rehabilitation space, including Emergency Department overflow, post-acute COVID-19 and a transitional unit for post-acute patients with COVID-19 awaiting transfer to a congregate living facility. Ledda worked with the Rush Rehabilitation leadership and infection prevention teams to open one of the first rehabilitation units for patients with COVID-19 along with a unit for patients recovering from COVID-19. His leadership helped the rehab team remain resilient through the surge of patients with COVID-19 and maintain the exceptional and compassionate care patients needed to recover and to prepare for a successful transition back into their communities.

Ledda is a member of the Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders and a recent IONL fellow, presenting at the organization’s annual conference. He also is a member of the American Association of Men in Nursing and has mentored new male nursing students and professionals as they grow in their careers.

Caitlin A. Murphy, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, AOCNP, Hematology and Oncology Nurse Practitioner

Murphy has been the leader of the hematology/oncology unit’s lymphoma program, including the weekly multidisciplinary conference, program team meeting and research initiatives. She took the lead in reviewing the chemotherapy treatment plans for patients with lymphoma, utilizing evidence-based guidelines to ensure standard of care, safety, re-evaluation of antiemetic medications and supportive care for these patients.

Murphy is a core nursing lead in the ambulatory urgent care clinic, which allows for management of oncology patients to avoid emergency room visits and hospitalizations. She spearheaded the development of a Survivorship Clinic for lymphoma patients to provide them with comprehensive education and support following completion of their treatment.

Murphy has embraced the Medical Center’s strong shared governance structure as this past year’s co-chair of the hematology/oncology Unit Advisory Committee. She has been involved in the Chicago Chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society throughout her career, previously serving as director at large, and currently is president-elect for 2021.

Isis Reyes, MSN, APRN, AG-ACNP-BC, Acute Nurse Practitioner, Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit

A former vice president of the Illinois Hispanic Nurses Association, Reyes helped the association transition to being the Illinois chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. She is a strong nurse advocate who increased the chapter’s membership to make it the largest in the country. She developed innovative partnerships with the American Heart Association to obtain resources and funding for community projects and was instrumental in the AHA becoming an official partner of NAHN-Illinois. As secretary for NAHN-IL, Reyes oversees the membership and recruitment committee, and she is an effective organizer of efforts to secure funds for scholarships for students and nurses seeking higher learning. She embraces educating others as a preceptor to nurse practitioner students and physician assistants that rotate through her specialty. 

“Rush University Medical Center and the Rush University College of Nursing are widely recognized as leaders in nursing excellence, and that leadership starts early and covers a wide range of expertise,” said Angelique Richard, PhD, RN, CENP, chief nursing officer for the Medical Center and Rush University System for Health, senior vice president, hospital operations and the College of Nursing’s associate dean for practice. “This leadership is evident in the wide range of the clinical and educational initiatives and accomplishments of the extraordinary Rush nurses recognized as 2020 40 Under 40 Emerging Nurse Leaders. We congratulate them and thank them for their valuable contributions to Rush and to the nursing profession and look forward to seeing their future success.”

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