Melanie Simpson

National Magnet Nurse of the Year

Melanie Simpson, PhD, RN, has been named one of five National Magnet Nurses of the Year by The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the same organization that awards Magnet status to hospitals.

Simpson, coordinator of the Pain Management Resource Team at The University of Kansas Hospital, is the hospital's first Magnet Nurse of the Year winner.

The award debuted last year, with categories of winners representing Magnet model components: Transformational Leadership; Structural Empowerment; Exemplary Professional Practice; New Knowledge, Innovations & Improvements; and Empirical Outcomes.

Melanie Simpson, Magnet Nurse of the Year

Simpson won in the Exemplary Professional Practice category. Only clinical nurses from Magnet-recognized facilities could be nominated.

In her nomination, Simpson's peers described her as an innovator and role model: "Melanie Simpson has dedicated her nursing career to the prevention and alleviation of pain. She incorporates evidence-based pain management strategies into practice."

Helped form team

Simpson, who started in oncology, uses her breadth of clinical knowledge to educate others about evidence-based pain management.

She joined the hospital in 1996 and helped form the pain management team in 2001. She also founded the Coalition for Comprehensive Pain Management, in which hospital clinicians and representatives from the University of Kansas Medical Center's three schools convene quarterly to discuss the latest evidence-based pain management research.

With the hospital's pain management team, certified pain management nurses meet with patients, identify risk factors and collaborate to provide individualized treatment plans. Hospital executives note nurse-led pain management programs are rare – but so are nurses like Simpson.

"Melanie is someone who has put the comfort of the patient at the top of her priority list," said Tammy Peterman, RN, MS, executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer. 

"She is not only an advocate for successful pain management for patients but a role model for nurses on how to use skill, knowledge and passion to make a difference at the bedside and beyond."

Satisfaction in work

As for Simpson, she noted the award is a thrill, but so is the satisfaction she gets every day.

"It is certainly overwhelming to receive a national recognition for years of hard work," she said. "But I am rewarded every day when I see patients' pain eased or provide a resource to a caregiver on how to make a patient more comfortable.

"I get to see hundreds of nurses at the hospital every day who are working to make a difference in patients' lives," Simpson added. "I look at awards like these as belonging to the entire nursing staff who put patient care first."

The award is the second major national nursing honor for the hospital in recent months. The hospital in August was among the first three academic hospitals in the nation to receive a new honor bestowed by the National League for Nursing.

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