Be the change you want to see in the world. ~ Ghandi

Monday, October 15, 2012 announces Mountain West Nursing Excellence Awards!

On the night of August 10th celebration and recognition for the 24 regional finalists of’s 2012 Nursing Excellence Program was held at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler, Arizona. Judith G. Berg RN MS FACHE, was the host of the evening as well as the former vice president and nurse executive of West and Heartland/Midwest editions.

From’s website:
“We consider it a true privilege to recognize nursing excellence in this beautiful way,” Eileen Williamson, RN, MSN, senior vice president and CNE at Gannett Healthcare Group, publisher of, said about the program. “We wait with great anticipation for this night all year; truly it is one of the highlights of the year for us at”

Each of the 24 Nursing Excellence regional finalists was given a corsage and received a plaque bearing his or her name and regional achievement. Of those 24, six extraordinary nurses were chosen to represent Mountain West in the national Nurse Excellence awards to be announced this fall. The six regional winners each received an elegant sail-shaped, etched-glass award to commemorate the evening.

The program's national sponsors are The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing's Future and University of Phoenix College of Nursing. 

Our very own Sue Averill won the Mountain West Nursing Excellence Award for Volunteerism and Service.

Here is what had to say about her:

Sue Averill, RN, BSN, CEN, MBA, president and co-founder, One Nurse At A Time, and ED nurse, Swedish Medical Center, Seattle

When faced with the choice of continuing to work for a luxurious cruise line or working in undeveloped, inhospitable and far-flung places, Averill chose the work that paid her nothing. 

A nurse for 33 years in the ED, her own home care company, hospital management and business operations for Holland America, Averill changed course midstream in 1996 when she decided to work as a per-diem nurse stateside and as a volunteer nurse anywhere else that needed her.

Averill’s humanitarian work began with the 1985 earthquake in Mexico when she and 19 others grabbed their gear, flew south and helped set up a free clinic. Some time later, Guatemala called. Then Liberia. Then Ethiopa, Uganda, Nigeria, Cambodia, Darfur, South Sudan, the Philippines and Pakistan, where mothers and grandmothers of girls having surgeries wanted to take care of her.

“They were so kind and so loving and wanted to take me in,” Averill said. “They’d say, ‘Come up here on the bed with us,’ and we’d sit around together. I had a lipstick with a mirror. I’d take it out and put on the lipstick and then pass it around. Pretty soon everyone had on bright red lipstick and there was this huge bonding over it. Lipstick was not allowed in Pakistan society, but we could do that as this secret little group of women at the hospital.”

Averill said every country and group of people, no matter how different they were in terms of security concerns or heartbreaking situations, became a passionate interaction that made her feel alive. “Your focus is totally different,” she said. “Everything is new and you notice every little thing. Stepping away from our routine makes us feel alive. I come back from missions a better person, and then I also like nursing better.”

To connect other nurses to the satisfying experience of humanitarian work, Averill founded One Nurse At A Time, which links nurses with volunteer opportunities, offers scholarships for travel costs and provides preparatory information on international work and diseases uncommon in this country. Tens of thousands of underserved people across the world have received medical services through ONAAT’s support of nurses, her nominator said, and it is the go-to resource for volunteering information.

Averill, however, believes she is the lucky one. “I’m just this little nurse in Seattle and look at this amazing life I’ve been allowed to live,” she said.