Three award winners standing in front of an outdoor landscape.

Division of Nursing Practice Celebrates Its First Nurses Week

Three outstanding Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) nurses received Nursing Excellence Awards at the inaugural Division of Nursing Practice Nurses Week celebration held May 9, 2024. 

The Division of Nursing Practice is a collaborative among Columbia Nursing, CUIMC, and ColumbiaDoctors, designed to foster nursing careers in service to excellent patient care. The celebration will be held every Nurses Week, and Nursing Excellence Awards will be given annually to exemplary CUIMC nurses. 

“We have heard so many incredible stories of how nursing leaders of the future are emerging across the medical center, and we are humbled by the stories shared about our nominees,” Maura Abbott, PhD, assistant dean of clinical affairs at Columbia Nursing and co-leader of the Division of Nursing Practice, said in her remarks opening the event. A total of 43 registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) at CUIMC were nominated by their departments for the award. 

Abbott asked the nominees in attendance to stand for a round of applause. Each received a rose and a certificate. 

Katrina Armstrong, MD, the dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and executive vice president for health and biomedical sciences at Columbia University, presented the first Nursing Excellence Award for an advanced practice nurse, to Brett Gray, MPH, clinical trials unit coordinator in the Division of Infectious Diseases from the Department of Medicine. “The words ‘incomparable, meticulous, effective, and dedicated’ came up in his nomination letters—as one nominator wrote, ‘I am routinely amazed and inspired by him,’” Dr. Armstrong said. “Brett, today we thank you for your leadership, your role as a mentor and a do-er, especially in your work during the COVID-19 crisis, when your steady hand and dedication were so sorely needed.” 

The second award for an advanced practice nurse was presented by James McKiernan, MD, senior vice dean for clinical affairs at CUIMC and chief executive officer at ColumbiaDoctors, to Ashley Tedone, DNP ’16, a family nurse practitioner in the Division of Family Planning and Preventive Services of the Department of OB/GYN. "As one of our physicians within her group said, ‘When I see patients that have been cared for by Ashley I know they have been thoroughly counseled and cared for with the highest levels of medical knowledge, empathy, and professionalism,” Dr. McKiernan said. “Among her colleagues, her strong leadership skills and tenacity are balanced by building trust and teamwork in her practice and acting with kindness and care toward her teammates.” 

The third award, honoring an RN, was presented by Columbia Nursing’s Dean Lorraine Frazier, PhD, to Christine Buxton, a clinical nurse supervisor at Columbia University and the NewYork-Presbyterian Och Spine Hospital. “As one nominator wrote, and I quote, ‘Her patients always feel heard and cared for after and during their interactions. She makes herself available for patients whenever they need, and patients often look to her for guidance on their toughest days...She is a very valued member of our team, and our ship would not float like it does without her.” 

Each awardee also received a $1,000 scholarship to attend a professional development conference. 

Stephen Ferrara, DNP, associate dean of clinical affairs at Columbia Nursing and co-leader of the Division of Nursing Practice, moderated a panel following the awards presentation, "Getting to Know Columbia Nursing: Academics, Clinical Practice, Community, and Research." 

In a panel presentation following the awards ceremony, Judy Honig, DNP ’05, Dorothy Rogers Professor of Nursing and vice dean of academic affairs; Mary Hickey, EdD, vice dean for education; Heidi Hahn-Schroeder, DNP, assistant dean of academic affairs and director of the Masters Direct Entry Program and the Advanced Clinical Management and Leadership Program; Janejira Chaiyasit, DNP ’17, clinical lead at ColumbiaDoctors Nurse Practitioner Group; and Reynaldo Rivera, DNP, director of nursing research and innovation and continuing professional development at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital; responded to questions about trends in nursing, strategies for promoting continuing education and professional development for nurses, and more. All agreed that the new Division of Nursing Practice would support nursing students and nurses in continuing to learn and grow throughout their careers. 

“Education is power. Lifelong learning is the way to live,” Honig said.