UCHealth Chief Nursing Executive Kathy HowellA letter from Kathy Howell

It is a great honor to serve as the Chief Nursing Executive for UCHealth and Chief Nursing Officer for University of Colorado Hospital. Every day I observe nurses throughout UCHealth in the role of partners and key strategists in creating an environment of life-long learning, teaching and collaborating with interprofessional teams to carry out our mission of improving lives.

Communities across Colorado rely on UCHealth and UCHealth nurses to be health care leaders, providing exemplary patient- and family-centered care. Our nurses have a genuine focus on patients and their families. I am proud of the advancements our nurses make in nursing practice and care delivery across the system, from the patient’s bedside to the clinic office, to the board room.

Clinical nursing practice is supported across UCHealth by the UEXCEL program, the Nursing Clinical Practice and Credentialing Model. This model supports nurses in advancing their careers through professional-development opportunities while continuing to provide direct patient care, thus upholding our belief that clinical excellence is our highest priority. Leaders are cultivated and mentored through customized education and development events, cohort-based development programs, and the Leadership Academy.

Collectively, UCHealth nurses are dedicated to improving lives through excellence in patient care, embracing innovation and using research and evidence-based practice to propel nurses as leaders in health care.

Katherine Howell, MBA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC

Nursing at UCHealth hospitals

Medical Center of the Rockies

Jessie Willard
CNO: Jessie Willard, MSN, RN

MCR Nursing Professional Practice Model

MCR Professional Practice Model graphic
Medical Center of the Rockies’ Professional Practice Model aligns with the UCHealth mission to “Improve Lives” and depicts the structure for professional nursing and interprofessional practice at MCR.

Model attributes

  • Aligns with the Magnet® components
  • Shaped like a pinwheel resembling the continuous motion of professional practice at MCR
  • Patient and family center care is the center of professional nursing practice at MCR aligned with the Empirical Outcomes component of Magnet

Nursing philosophy

Our nursing staff believes in a Patient- and Family-Centered Care model where our patients are the center of care. High-quality care is provided along the health continuum. Patient care is provided through collaborative relationships among the patient, family, nursing staff and other healthcare providers.


  • ANCC Magnet designated 2010, 2016, 2021
  • Advanced Certification as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2019
  • American College of Surgeons (ACS) Level II Trauma Center 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019
  • American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Certification as Primary Stroke Center
  • American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Get with The Guidelines-Stroke GOLD PLUS Quality Award with Honor Roll Elite 2019
  • Beacon Award for Excellence (Gold level) 2014 for the Surgical Intensive Care Unit
  • Beacon Award for Excellence (Silver level) 2009, 2011, 2014, 2017 for the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit
  • Cardiac Surgery Unit Advanced Life Support (CSU-ALS) Center of Excellence
  • Get with the Guidelines STEMI Receiving Center
  • Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) member since 2018
  • US News & World Report High Performing hospital
  • US News & World Report ranks Medical Center of the Rockies #7 hospital in Colorado in 2019

Contributions of professional nursing

ANCC Magnet Nurse of the Year Award

ANCC National Magnet Nurse of the Year Award

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) recognizes the exceptional contributions of clinical nurses to innovation, consultation, leadership, and professional risk taking with this honor.  Awards are presented in each of the five components of the ANCC Magnet Model®: Transformational Leadership, Structural Empowerment, Exemplary Professional Practice, New Knowledge, Innovations, and Improvements, and Empirical Outcomes.  Only five nurses are selected annually for this prestigious award.  (https://www.americannursetoday.com/national-magnet-nurse-award-winners/).

2017: Melanie Roberts, DNP, RN-BC, CNS, CCNS, CCRN-K, Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist

Empirical Outcomes: As a clinical nurse, Dr. Melanie Roberts demonstrated extraordinary commitment to improving patient outcomes in the critical care setting. The Cardiac Surgery Unit-Advanced Life Support (CSU-ALS) protocol improved mortality rates for cardiovascular surgery patients at Medical Center of the Rockies.

The CSU-ALS guidelines focus on prevention of cardiac arrest in post-operative patients through early intervention of the protocol. Initially, there was a decrease in the incidence of cardiac arrest, but we did not see a survival to discharge benefit. However, in 2017, we achieved a survival to discharge of 70%, which is consistent with the literature. There was also a significant decrease in the number of patients who required chest compressions—73% compared to 25% prior to the implementation of the new protocol. This is clinically significant because of the risk of injury during chest compressions and potential injury to the sternal incision. This was the first protocol of its kind in the nation, and outcome measures changed how and when we intervene with cardiovascular surgery patients.

Magnet Nurse Awards at MCR

At UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies, we celebrate nursing by recognizing nurses who excel in their work and exemplify one of the five components of the ANCC Magnet Model®: Transformational Leadership, Structural Empowerment, Exemplary Professional Practice, New Knowledge, Innovations, and Improvements, and Empirical Outcomes.  During our annual healthcare week celebrations, one Magnet Nurse Award is selected in each Magnet category.

Transformational Leadership

Elizabeth Johnson, BSN, RN, CEN, TCRN, Charge Nurse, Emergency Department

  • Liz is the model for a visible, accessible and effective communicator facilitating open communication, empowering staff and improving education.
  • Liz has implemented multiple patient centered processes in the ED including work with Trauma Services and as a member of the MCR core team.

Structural Empowerment

Kimberly Schaub, BSN, RN-BC, Ortho/Neuro/Spine

  • As chair of her Unit Based Council (UBC) and vice chair of the system Acute Care Practice Council, Kimmy excels within shared governance highlighting council initiatives, acting as a liaison with MCR’s Coordinating Council and presenting system practice changes to the CNO council.
  • Kimmy role models professional development through advocacy of professional nursing certification empowering other nurses to obtain certification by providing them the necessary resources to achieve this goal.

Exemplary Professional Practice

Nicole Shockley, BSN, RN, Cardiac

  • Nicole is committed to interdisciplinary collaboration demonstrated by her strong relationships with all members of the care team ultimately providing better outcomes to our patients. Her patient and family communication instills them with the confidence they need to navigate their care.
  • Working with the Emergency Preparedness Committee, Nicole demonstrates a commitment to a culture of safety empowering her team to identify and utilize best practices.

New Knowledge, Innovations, and Improvements

Candice Bailey, BSN, RN, C-EFM, Mother & Family

  • Candice addressed her department’s capacity and throughput challenges with an innovative solution trialing a discharge nurse to facilitate more efficient patient movement. Her trial was so successful; it has been permanently adopted on the unit.
  • Candice’s initiative positively impacted the unit by providing a solution to capacity issues, improving staff satisfaction, positively impacting physician/nurse relationships, and ensuring consistent discharge education for patients and families.

Empirical Outcomes

Michelle Dale, BSN, RN, PCCN, Charge Nurse, Cardiac Progressive Care

  • Michelle adopted and implemented an evidence-based mentorship program for the CPCU connecting new staff with experienced colleagues to work together in supportive relationships fostering professional growth beyond unit orientation.
  • Michelle created an environment that is conducive for the unit to develop their own leadership skills and communicate openly about success and opportunities for improvement.

Magnet Nurse Leader Award at MCR

Magnet Nurse Leader recipients excel in their work and exemplify all five components of the ANCC Magnet Model®: Transformational Leadership, Structural Empowerment, Exemplary Professional Practice, New Knowledge, Innovations, and Improvements, and Empirical Outcomes. During our annual healthcare week celebrations, one Medical Center of the Rockies nurse leader is chosen for this award.

Kellie White, BSN, RN-BC, Nurse Manager, Cardiac Intensive Care and Surgical Intensive Care

Transformational Leadership: Kellie is an impressive and progressive leader, advocate, mentor, and role model.  She’s dedicated to cultivating a strong team that is motivated and supportive of the individual and collective goals of the unit.

Structural Empowerment: She is a role model for continuous improvement encouraging staff to actively participate in committees and pursue opportunities to further their education.  Kellie ensures that her staff have the necessary time and resources to achieve these goals.

Exemplary Professional Practice: Kellie is an advocate for empowerment at all levels of healthcare, including patient and family centered care.

New Knowledge, Innovations, and Improvements: She is an active mentor and champion for staff who are participating in nursing research giving them resources and acting as their coach and cheerleader.

Empirical Outcomes: The Beacon Award for Excellence is awarded by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) recognizing individual units that distinguish themselves by improving every facet of nursing.  Kellie conducted hours of research playing a crucial role in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit’s receipt of the Silver Beacon Award.

Nightingale Luminary Awards

The Colorado Nurses Foundation administers the Colorado Nightingale Luminary Awards to highlight nursing advocacy, leadership, and innovation.

2019: Stephanie Boyd, MSN, RN, Nurse Manager, Ortho/Neuro/Spine

Innovation: Stephanie utilized her unit as a pilot unit to address throughput improvements for Medical Center of the Rockies.  She pulled together a team of stakeholders who revamped the interdisciplinary discharge rounds and the utilization of patient white boards to improve communication amongst staff as well as to help prepare patients for discharge.

After the pilot, the percent of patients discharged four or more hours from the order time decreased by 13% improving the quality of patient care.  Stephanie’s work was selected for a poster presentation at the 2018 ANCC Magnet conference where she shared outcomes with thousands of nurses from across the country.

Daisy Awards

DAISY Award honorees personify Medical Center of the Rockies remarkable patient experience.  These nurses consistently demonstrate excellence through their clinical expertise and extraordinary compassionate care.  They are recognized as outstanding role models in our nursing community.  Each month one nurse is selected as MCR’s DAISY honoree.

Erin Moran, BSN, RN, Cardiac Progressive Care

  • September 2019 DAISY honoree

Janielle Grant, BSN, RN, Mother & Family

  • August 2019 DAISY honoree

Natalie Lakey, MS, BSN, RN, Cardiac

  • July 2019 DAISY honoree

Benjamin Whitman, BSN, RN-BC, Trauma/Surgical

  • June 2019 DAISY honoree

Ruthie Weyant, MSN, RN, CCRN, CMC, Cardiac Intensive Care

  • May 2019 DAISY honoree

Lindsey Morrell, BSN, RN, Cardiac

  • April 2019 DAISY honoree

Kay Deluca, BSN, Trauma/Surgical

  • March 2019 DAISY honoree

JoAnne Davis, RN, VA-BC, IV Team

  • February 2019 DAISY honoree

Nicole Marino, BSN, RN-BC, Cardiac Intensive Care

  • January 2019 DAISY honoree

Virginia Thomas, BSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, Patient Representative, Risk Management

  • December 2018 DAISY honoree

Christopher Modrzejewski, ADN, RN, Medical

  • November 2018 DAISY honoree

Jay Guzie, BSN, RN, Float Pool

  • October 2018 DAISY honoree

UCHealth's UEXCEL Program

UEXCEL is the nursing practice and credentialing model for UCHealth focusing on nursing excellence in clinical care, education and evidence, and leadership. This program provides the opportunity for nurses to progressively move toward advanced levels of professional practice. Each level of UEXCEL represents an increased responsibility, clinical knowledge and expertise, greater accountability to mentoring others, and an expanded role as a clinical resource for patients, families, staff and community.

Nine nurses from UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies completed the 2018-2019 UEXCEL program, advancing to Level III:

  • Bonnie Brummer, BSN, CCRN-CSC, Charge Nurse, Cardiac Intensive Care
    • Utilization of Early Mobility Protocol with Equipment: ABCDEF Bundle
  • Lauren Ciminski, BSN, RN, CVRN, Charge Nurse, Pre/Post Cardiac Cath Lab
    • Radial Hemostasis Devices
  • Nicole Fry, BSN, RN, CAPA, Charge Nurse, Surgery South SAC/PACU
    • Enhanced Recovery After Surgery for Hysterectomy Patients
  • Lisa Lenz, BSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, Charge Nurse, Mother & Family
    • Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Protocol for Scheduled C-Section
  • Erin Liebman, BSN, RN, CPAN, CAPA, SAC/PACU
    • Perioperative Collaborative Clinical Practice Guidelines Update
  • Michelle Rodriguez, BSN, RN-BC, Charge Nurse, Trauma/Surgical
    • Improving Nurse Responsiveness Scores
  • Fawn Saylor, BSN, RN, Charge Nurse, Surgery South OR
    • Perioperative Glucose Management
  • Sarah Swan, BSN, RN, Charge Nurse, Mother & Family
    • Inpatient Postpartum Depression Screening
  • Ruthie Weyant, MSN, RN, CCRN, CMC, Charge Nurse, Cardiac Intensive Care
    • Communication with Mechanically Ventilated

Memorial Hospital

CNO: Tamera Dunseth-Rosenbaum, MSNA, RN, NE-BC


ACNO: Mark Mays, MHA, BSN, RN, CEN

Nursing Philosophy

Our nursing staff core values and beliefs center in relationship-based care focusing on the nurses’ relationship created with patients and families, the nurses’ relationship with self, and the nurses’ relationship with colleagues. At the heart of this belief is the human connection between the nurse and the patient through clinical interventions, touch, kindness, listening and understanding of the patient’s values, beliefs and preferences.

Nursing Professional Practice Model


  • Det Norske Veritas (DNV) Comprehensive Stroke Center (Memorial Central)
  • American College of Cardiology (ACC) Chest Pain Center with PCI and Resuscitation (Memorial Central and North)
  • American College of Cardiology (ACC) Atrial Fibrillation Accreditation (Memorial Central)
  • American College of Cardiology (ACC) HeartCare Center of National Distinction of Excellence (Memorial Central)
  • State of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Adult Level I Trauma Program (
  • American College of Surgeons (ACS) Level I Trauma Center (Memorial Central)
  • Commission on Cancer (CoC) Accreditation (Memorial Central and North)
  • Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) (Memorial Central and North)
  • ASTRO Accreditation Program for Excellence (APEx®) (Memorial Central and North)
  • National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) (Memorial Central and North)
  • Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. Baby Friendly® (Memorial Central and North)
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Distinction Specialty Care for Knee and Hip Replacement

Contributions of Professional Nursing at Memorial

Nursing and Clinical Excellence Awards

Transformational Leadership

Nursing Excellence:

Kersten Pollock-Nelson, BSN, RN, CMS-RN

Kersten is one of our permanent Charge RN on our unit.  This was a position she aspired to almost from the time she was a new nurse.  She has worked hard to develop her professional skills by completing the Phase I and Phase II of the Nursing Leadership Development program.   She has obtained her certification also inspired others to complete their Medical Surgical Certification.

As the SME on our unit for Epic she is a resource for others.  She is often the first to initiate change on our unit and motivates others to accept change.  She also supports newer staff to understand processes and aid with implementation.  When a new change is rolled out she is one of the first to help staff with becoming comfortable with this change and increasing consistency on our unit.

She will often attend shared governance meetings and represent our unit at various meetings when others are “too busy”.  Kersten has shown initiative with many of the changes occurring at Memorial North as a transformational leader on our unit.

Clinical Excellence:

Steve Wesselhoff, PT, DPT

Steve Wesselhoff, PT in the RPCU as an outstanding clinician because of his transformational leadership. Steve is an integral team member that strives to propel the department forward by making procedural changes to benefit our patients. Recently he implemented a SCI Protocol with the help of our Medical Director, Dr. Marc Kelly and is in the process of implementing that with our ICU Team, Rehab Team, 4C Trauma Floor and Trauma Services. In addition, Steve has developed and leads our Stroke Support Group that meets once a month which has been very successful for our patients who have experienced a stroke.

Steve is an active member and chair of the unit practice council. He also serves on the Board of New Knowledge, Innovation and Research.  Steve is currently applying for “Senior Therapist” status for our Rehab Clinical Ladder.

He is an approachable team player that is always ready to share his knowledge and new ideas. Steve started taking students this year and both of his students thus far have reported in their site evaluation that Steve was, “outstanding” and “the best Clinical Instructor I’ve had”. Steve is very self-motivated to help others as well as develop himself. He is currently working on his Master’s Degree in Hospital Administration.

In summation, Steve consistently displays a relentless commitment to his work and a genuine concern and compassion for his teammates, student’s patients, and their families.  Steve’s leadership, character, interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence are some of his many assets.  The relationships he is able to build with all whom he encounters is remarkable.  Steve consistently makes good decisions, is confident and reliable.

Structural Empowerment

Nursing Excellence:

Tara Cuccinelli, MS, RN, ACCNS-BC, CEN, CPEN

Tara is known in the Emergency Department as a “go to” person when you want to know if something is evidenced-based. As a constant voice for our patients and staff, Tara advocates relentlessly for the pursuit of the best emergency care possible. In her role as the Emergency Department Clinical Specialist, Tara is a daily advocate for improving the care we deliver. As part of the ED Leadership team she challenges, argues, and most often wins when debating what’s best for our patients. We have relied on Tara to bring us the evidence, implement a solution and train our staff to carry out the skills to save lives. Tara has helped us implement our CIWA guidelines, improve our scanning rates for medications and pump compliance. She’s led efforts to deliver quality care to inpatients who have to board in the ED while awaiting a bed in the hospital. She has advocated for changes in the Code Blue response and advocated for equipment to aid in emergent resuscitations. Tara has attended the Emergency Nurse’s Association Conference this past year and is always finding ways to continue her own education so that she can bring the latest evidence to the bedside in our departments. Tara is a unique nurse leader with a passion for educating her peers, advocating for best practice and improving the delivery of nursing care.

Clinical Excellence:

Amanda Martin, PT, NCS

Amanda is the definition of an employee who leads by example. She works well within an interdisciplinary team and reaches out to other disciplines in order to ensure the best care for her patients. She recently reached out to Dr. MacIndoe and set up an in-service for the rehab department providing a learning opportunity for others. She also provided a transfer training course for both rehab therapists and nursing staff. Amanda routinely uses evidence-based practice to provide the best, individualized care for her patients. She takes multiple students throughout the year and provides an environment for learning and professional growth.  Amanda is an individual who leads by example and is the quiet role model in the department that others emulate. She is a wealth of knowledge with multiple years of experience and uses that knowledge to help mentor others. She is a leader and an asset to the rehab department.

Exemplary Professional Practice

Nursing Excellence:

Elizabeth Spradlin, BSN, RN, TCRN

Elizabeth is one of the most professional nurses. I have ever worked with.  She has been pivotal in the development of the Trauma program at Memorial North.

Her facilitation of Nursing Trauma Peer review is unbiased and collaborative.  She encourages interdisciplinary collaboration to improve communication and patient outcomes.  It has become a forum for the trading of ideas and exchange of information between departments.  At all times it follows just culture while striving to improve processes and patient outcomes.

She tireless worked to develop a trauma class specifically for the nurses at Memorial north Med Surg.  At all times she is humble and kind while proving to be a valuable resource.  She embodies Exemplary Professional Practice in nursing.

Clinical Excellence:

Amber Bechert

Amber Bechert has been a prn tech for UCHealth for the past three years. She has been coming to North Outpatient Oncology Infusion Clinic for the past year.  Amber is the kind of tech that our patients ask about when she is not around because they love the way she looks after them and their family.

Our fulltime tech for North left the first week of March.  Amber volunteered to come to the North to precept the new fulltime tech.  She spent time showing him our workflow and the processes that he would need to be successful.  She explained the basic cancer concepts to him so that he would understand what we do in outpatient oncology infusion.  Through her guidance, our fulltime tech was able to start taking care of our patients on his own in 3 weeks.

Amber still mentors our new tech by calling him and stopping by to see how he is doing.  She understands that precepting includes mentoring. She believes that just because a person comes off the “official” orientation does not mean that they do not still need some guidance.

 New Knowledge, Innovations, & Improvements

Nursing Excellence:

Jennifer Johnson, BSN, RN

Jennifer is nominated for the implementation of a turn team on Medical 5 North. Jen attended a system-level conference last fall and brought those learnings, combined with other evidence-based research regarding pressure ulcers, to our department. She presented evidence of why a turn team (new practice) creates better quality outcomes for our patients.

Jen developed a staff education handout and presented data and pilot roll-out in person at staff meetings She also invited our SAGE rep (subject matter expert) to demonstrate the TAPS system (turn and position system) that helps to properly position patients and reduces strain on employees.

She also developed a two-person team timeline throughout the 24 hour period, so that every two hours, staff are preassigned to be turn team participants. Patients are designated on our daily census of who they visit. She also developed a portable supply cart with a standardized list of supplies that the turn team takes with them room to room. This saves time as the staff doesn’t have to go search for needed supplies or linens.

Jen very thoughtfully implemented this pilot and ensured that she included research, evidence-based practice, pressure ulcer data, supply needs, gained staff buy-in, and created a solid process to ensure our patients are turned on a regular basis.

Clinical Excellence:

Marlene Bigelow, PT, LSVT, HERDMAN

Marlene Bigelow, PT is one of our staff physical therapists at Powers Adult OP Rehabilitation. She has been with this organization for less than one year and has demonstrated a drive and passion for filling in areas of need within our department to facilitate better patient care. Marlene presented an idea for offering a program for our Parkinson’s population of patients that is offered by other facilities in Colorado Springs. LSVT Global is a program that involves a movement component (LSVT Big) and a speech component (LSVT Loud), and it is a program that our neurology group accepts as the appropriate standard of care for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Marlene and I set up a meeting with our manager’s and director. She prepared a very thorough presentation that facilitated talks with our neurology department. Since presenting the program as an idea in January, we have moved forward and another physical therapist within our system has since gotten certified in LSVT Big, as we anticipate a greater need for services. Marlene is scheduled to begin seeing her first LSVT Big client in the next few weeks, and she is looking forward to sharing her expertise and passion to help improve the lives of her patients.  Though this, Marlene has gained a great deal of respect by bringing a new idea forward as a new employee. In her short time here. She was able to bring new eyes to our department and identify a population of patients who could receive more options for care.

Empirical Outcomes

Nursing Excellence:

Jennifer Carey, BSN, RN

Jennifer (Jenn) Carey has been working in the North Oncology CHMG office over the last year and a half as their office nurse.  She has strived to build a better working relationship with the staff of North Outpatient Oncology Infusion Clinic (NOOIC).  On a daily basis, the two clinics exchange information 10 – 20 times if not more.  We discuss appointments, lab values, prescriptions needs, medication reactions, and so many other things.  Jennifer is my go-to person to get things done for our oncology patients.  As soon as she started in the doctor’s office, we talked about how we could best take care of the patients.   We began by sharing reports that we run for our clinics.  We try to anticipate the problems that might arise with an appointment and then try to take care of it before a patient gets to either of our clinics.

Jenn coordinates with the NOOIC scheduler and clinical lead so that there are no surprises on our schedule.  Always the goal is to provide top notch customer service to the patients and to the staff of the NOOIC. Jenn has been a team player working toward better relationships with all clinic members.

Clinical Excellence:

 Elizabeth Wehling, PT

Elizabeth came to UCHealth 6 years ago and has proven to be a wonderful asset to our Outpatient Rehabilitation Department.  Elizabeth, also known as “Lizzy” demonstrates superior clinical knowledge and application of evidence-based practice and applies both in ways that measurably impact the quality of care and improve patient care outcomes.

As a developing leader, Lizzy holds a title as a Senior Therapist and has distinguished herself through performing multiple roles, such as PPIC member, peer team member, clinical instructor, and adviser for Orthopedic Services at Printers Park Medical Plaza (PPMP).

As an illustration of exemplary professional practices has made a tremendous contribution by proposing patient-specific outcome measures be mailed to patients to improve the efficiency of the check-in process for scheduled appointments.  As a result of Lizzy’s contributions, the clinic has experienced an increase in outcome data scores based on the recommendations Lizzy has provided. One example, the Patient Specific Functional Scale (PSFS), is a functional outcome measure which has shown validity, reliability and responsiveness from patients through subjective information.  As of 2018, PPMP’s PSFS Scores, patient’s average is 3.62 which indicates patients are experiencing significant changes based on the national scale average score of 2.0-3.0 which identifies a detectable change for this outcome measure.

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program (SANE)

Megan Lechner, MSN, RN, CNS, SANE-A, SANE-P

Megan has been practicing as a nurse for over 20 years and as a forensic nurse for 12 years. She is the Clinical Manager of the Forensic Nurse Examiner Team and Director of the Colorado SANE/SAFE Project, which provides medical forensic education to healthcare providers throughout Colorado. Megan works on a national level by providing expert testimony consultation and teaching on issues ranging from sexual violence, intimate partner violence, human trafficking and strangulation. She also serves as a consultant for Indian Health Services, providing both clinical and didactic education to healthcare

Megan and her team provides medical forensic care to nearly 1900 patients per year who are victims of violence (sexual assault, human trafficking, intimate partner violence, child abuse, elder abuse, strangulation). This program began at Memorial Hospital in 1995 as the only Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program for sexual assault victims living in El Paso and Teller counties. These victims include patients who present to the Emergency Department (ED) for intimate partner violence, elder abuse, strangulation, child abuse, trauma and human trafficking.

The FNE Program is also involved in several research projects. The team is in its third year as a participant in the Women’s Health Study, which looks at the healing process of victims of sexual assault. This team is also the pilot site for a rapid DNA study, decreasing the analysis time of sexual assault evidence kits from months to hours. Most recently, the FNE team is spearheading a research project on living victims of strangulation, a topic in great need for new research.

The goal of the FNE Program is to develop and provide the best trauma-informed care to patients; improving their lives. This is done be practicing evidence-based care, maintaining community relationships, innovating practice with research and sharing knowledge.

Poudre Valley Hospital

CNO: Julie Nunley, MBA, BSN, RN

PVH Nursing Professional Practice Model

PVH nursing philosophy

The nursing staff is committed to providing quality patient- and family-centered care through collaborative partnerships among health care providers, patients and families. The Coordinating Council governs the quest for excellence in evidence-based nursing practice, focusing on the domains of quality, education, advocacy, community and professionalism.


  • American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet Designation® 2000, 2004, 2009, 2014, 2018.
  • Advanced Certification as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission National Quality Approval, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016.
  • American College of Surgeons Bariatric Surgery Center Network (ACS BSCN) Accreditation Program – Bariatric Center of Excellence. Re-designated, 2015.
  • Patient Centered Medical Home, Level 3 – Family Medicine Center, National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).
  • Vizient Excellence Award- The Bernard A. Birnbaum MD Quality Leadership Award – Vizient, 2016.
  • Great Place to Work® - University of Colorado Health, 2016.
  • US News and World Report ranks Poudre Valley Hospital as #5 in Colorado in 2017.
  • Becker's Hospital Review - 100 Great Hospitals in America, 2017.
  • American Association of Critical Care Nurses Beacon Award for Excellence, ICU, Silver Level, March, 2017.
  • American Stroke Association Get with the Guidelines, Silver Target Stroke Honor Roll, May, 2017.
  • American Stroke Association Get with the Guidelines, Silver Plus- Target: Heart Failure, May 2017.
  • Watson Health Top 100 Hospitals – Teaching Hospitals, March 2019

Contributions of professional nursing at PVH

2018 Magnet Nurse of the Year Awards at PVH

Transformational leadership: Lauren Roy

In 2017, ED clinical nurse Lauren Roy created a plan and a process for Mass Casualty Incidents. Lauren took the table top review process and developed an MCI core team that now drills on MCI bi-monthly. Lauren collaborated with nursing leadership from other regions regarding their MCI plan. She partnered with many other disciplines including providers, pharmacists, and representatives from patient access and trauma services with a command center perspective. She also started working with champions from inpatient units who are implementing their own Emergency Preparedness plans. She created easy to use posters for decontamination process and START triage which is used in a disaster so there is an easy reference to follow.

Lauren continues to partner across the system to ensure that no matter which UCHealth Hospital faces a disaster; we are all equally prepared.

Lauren role-models the standards of excellence and has exceptional clinical skills. She also has a way of providing constructive feedback that is non-threatening and builds confidence, this transformational leadership skill is difficult to learn and one that Lauren has mastered well.

Structural Empowerment: Jenny Karni

Jenny has been involved with the Neuro Unit’s UBC from its inception and she has taken the lead on several initiatives. In July, Jenny will become the Chair of Neuro’s UBC.  Her involvement includes the production and starring in educational videos to help support the UBC’s handwashing initiative.  Jenny has also starred in educational videos supporting hourly rounding and bedside reporting initiatives.

Each quarter Jenny organizes all of the staff recognition and with staff input identifies the “star neuron”.  The star neuron award includes recognizing you points and a picture on the unit’s recognition board.

Aside from her engagement at work, Jenny consistently sets goals to be active in the community. Jenny has presented at nursing care facilities and grocery stores in Fort Collins to provide stroke awareness education to our community members.  Most recently Jenny attended a local high school job fair to promote nursing as a future career to local high school students.

Jenny has completed all of this while also attaining the ANCC Medical Surgical Professional Certification and will be completing her BSN studies this summer.

Exemplary Professional Practice: Megan Rentel

Megan has worked on the Women’s Care Unit for over 7 years and has grown from a novice to an expert in the field of maternal/newborn nursing.  She demonstrates professionalism and maintains a high standard of excellence.

Megan ensures that every member of the Women’s Care Team is informed and has resources they need to complete their work.  She took on the challenge of producing and maintaining a monthly newsletter. Her newsletter is the talk of the service line is used as a resource.

Megan identified a gap in knowledge and nursing practice for the long-term antepartum patients on the women’s care unit.  After a rapid improvement event conducted on the unit, Megan took it upon herself to organize and maintain an antepartum “team”.  Every month Megan identifies a new topic to keep the team educated to care for these high-risk patients.

As our former Unit Based Council Chair, Employee Engagement Representative, Team Lead for the women’s care unit antepartum team, and various other committee involvement, Megan is our expert for new initiatives needed to improve clinical outcomes and safety.

New Knowledge, Innovations, and Improvements: Edna Sailer

Edna has a nursing career spans over three decades. And she has had many achievements in that time. Fortunately for the newborns and their families, another achievement is the application of the swaddle bath.

Edna researched the process of swaddle baths and identified potential benefits.  By conducting a comparison pilot Edna identified:

  • 38 percent of babies cried during a swaddle immersion bath compared to 93 percent who cried during a sponge bath.
  • Babies who receive swaddle baths have less variability in temperature — which is important to keep their glucose and energy levels stabilized.
  • The study showed that babies and their parents were less-stressed during the swaddle bath.
  • The process took less time and fewer steps to complete when compared with a traditional sponge bath.

The increase in satisfaction had a domino effect on the rest of the patients’ experiences at the hospital, from latching for breastfeeding and sleeping to the confidence the parents had when going home with their newborn.  This new knowledge is being adopted in the NICU and throughout the UCHealth system.

Empirical Outcomes: Kristin Lane

Through her UEXCEL project, Kristin proved positive outcomes can be realized through nursing action and data collection. Proving that Purposeful Patient Rounding can be successful when using the 5 P’s of rounding, she instilled trust in her colleagues that rounding does work. She taught that actions lead to outcomes. Specifically, through Kristin’s work, patient knowledge of hourly rounding increased. Additionally, her project’s actions helped decrease daily call light usage from 205 call lights per day to 173 call lights per day.

Most noteworthy, was the outcome of the Surgical Units HCAHPS results. Kristin’s project facilitated the increase of the Nurse Responsiveness scores. Starting out in the 67th percentile, Kristin pushed the 5 P’s to staff through education, literature, evidence, and reality on how to make it work. She knew the literature and evidence supported her project. Slowly and surely, with the implementation of the 5 P’s, the Nurse Responsiveness scores continued to rise throughout the course of her project. She exceeded her goal and the unit goal when the Nurse Responsiveness scores rose to the 77th percentile.


Kristen Boettcher, PVH ICU

In 2018, Kristen Boettcher, RN, implemented a new order set for patients in acute alcohol withdrawal in the critical care units. This innovative intervention occurred after Kristen performed a review of the literature; identified and coordinated a team of key stakeholders; created and distributed educational materials for the nursing staff and implemented a standardized protocol including a decision tree. Kristen consulted subject matter experts outside of the organization and conferred with leaders within the organization to explore the opportunity for change. The pilot program proved successful with outcomes including decrease use of Ativan infusions lowering the risk of aspiration, and the Mortality index for patients receiving the innovative treatment decreased from 1.08 to 0.78.  Patients admitted to the critical care units are now treated with this innovative approach for management of acute alcohol withdrawal.

University of Colorado Hospital

Kathy Howell
CNO: Kathy Howell, MBA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC

Jennifer Zwink
ACNO: Jennifer Zwink, MS, RN, OCN

Jennifer Rodgers
ACNO: Jennifer Rodgers, DNP, ACNP-BC, FAANP

UCH Nursing Professional Practice Model

UCH Nursing Professional Practice Model
University of Colorado Hospital’s Professional Practice Model aligns with the UCHealth mission to “Improve Lives” and depicts the structure for professional nursing and interprofessional practice at UCH.

Model attributes

  • Patient and family are the center of professional nursing practice at UCH.
  • Nurses create connections with patients and families through compassionate care, while advocating for and empowering them to improve their lives across the care continuum.
  • Nursing’s professional practice is anchored by the UEXCEL Nursing Practice and Credentialing Model which guides nursing practice with defined practice standards and supports nurses’ continued professional development.
  • UCH nurses foster integral interprofessional relationships and incorporate innovation in the delivery of evidence based quality care.


  • #1 US News and World Report in Colorado
  • American College of Cardiology (ACC) Accreditation Services™ Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI 2018
  • American College of Surgeons (ACS) Level I Trauma Center
  • American Heart Association (AHA) “Get with the Guidelines” Gold Plus Recognition 2018
  • American Heart Association (AHA) Comprehensive Stroke Center
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet® Designated: 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Prize® Recipient: 2004
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Nurse of the Year Award® Recipients: 2011, 2013, 2016
  • American Burn Association (ABA) Verified Burn Center
  • American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) Beacon Award of Excellence: Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit 2015
  • Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. Baby Friendly® designation 2018
  • Colorado Perinatal Care Council (CPCC) Level III NICU
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredited Post Baccalaureate Nurse Residency Program
  • National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • The Joint Commission (TJC) Certifications:
    • Inpatient Diabetes Advanced Certification
    • Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification
    • Ventricular Assist Device Certification
    • Palliative Care Advanced Certification
  • Vizient Ambulatory Care Quality and Accountability Award 2018

Contributions of professional nursing at UCH

Magnet Nurse of the Year Awards at UCH

Transformational Leadership

Cheryl Fiscelli, MSN, RN, CAPA Radiation Oncology / Urology Oncology

Cheryl discovered inefficiencies in the structures and processes for a newly diagnosed and referred cancer patient to be scheduled to see a physician in the urology/oncology clinic. The referral process lacked standard work in the way that referrals were received by UCH, which caused delays for initial clinic contact to the patient.

Cheryl worked with the team in creating a new process where all referrals were received, transcribed and time stamped by a scheduling team. As a result, the clinic had a drastic reduction of wait times for referrals.

Structural Empowerment

Lindsay Darling, MSN, RN, CMSRN Neurosciences

Lindsay worked closely with leaders to build and evaluate the Nursing Acuity Score (NAS) acuity system and coordinated all the activities associated with the pilot process.  This pilot was labor intensive and required constant oversight as a leader champion.  She developed a workflow process to make assignment creation easy and fair based on the end score. Extreme scoring outliers were evaluated and modifications to the acuity tool were made. Lindsay played a huge role in helping to shape this innovative tool for the organization.

New Knowledge, Innovation and Improvements

Logan Scarbeary, BSN, RN, CMSRN MHSU

Logan developed an innovative approach in designing new technology to allow charge nurses to practice at the top of their scope while focusing on eliminating inefficiencies that can alter productivity in performing day to day charge nurse tasks.  Logan built a multifunctional tool that would allow the blending of patient information among different systems, support capacity management/planning, create communication tools, and overall assist with staffing management of the unit.


Elyse identified a significant need for our critically ill patients in the STICU through a more efficient process to obtain a tracheostomy (trach) or percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube. Through Elyse’s coordinated actions, leadership, patience and ongoing diligence, this innovative team prevented at least 168 handoffs and transport episodes for critically ill patients. Post-intervention data showed they were able to free up valuable OR time. Knowing we support continuity of care, avoid additional transport episodes and provide necessary interventions, all while patients remain in the safety of their ICU room. These factors ensure continued success as the ICU PT employs an innovative approach to keep the patient at the center of the care model.

Exemplary Professional Practice

Tayler Bull, BSN, RN Orthopedics

Tayler significantly enhanced nursing workflow across all medical-surgical departments, improving nurses ability to work at the top of their scope, increasing the breadth of impact clinical nursing assistants have upon direct patient care,  and making every moment matter to those closest to the bedside. Tayler recognized significant call fatigue among nurses related to multiple non-emergent interruptions in the care of their patients from the telemetry department. Tayler took initiative and spearheaded a challenging quality improvement project that ultimately resulted in a revised telemetry algorithm with widespread impact to the care of our patients.

Tori Petty, BSN, RN, SCRN, CNRN: Neurosciences 

Tori developed a nursing checklist that could be utilized at the bedside to improve nursing compliance with specified interventions. Tori also collaborated with providers and interdisciplinary teams to develop the Neurosurgery Spine Post-Op Pathway – and she created and implemented an order set to help automate many of the routine orders to mirror the pathway.  Through her hard work, Tori decreased the length of stay of our spine population. That provides a significant benefit to our patients, as well as to the hospital in terms of capacity management.

Hannah Hodges BSN, RN, CCTN IMed and Transplant

Hannah sought out to make quality outcomes relatable and real for the front-line. Her goal was to decrease Falls, CAUTI, CLABSI, HAPI and C.Diff from prior fiscal year (FY) with 3 interventions: 1) Quality Metric of the Week- a calendar for the entire year, outlining the weekly rotation of the five priority quality metrics. Once the content is created, it is shared with the unit charge nurses, who are then responsible for disseminating it to the entire team at daily shift huddles. 2) Visible outcomes board displaying data in a way that front-line can read and relate. 3) Quarterly, interdisciplinary Quality Meetings. In less than one year after the implementation of Quality Metric of the Week, improved outcomes board and Quarterly Quality Meetings, the Internal Medicine unit saw significant improvements in several of the priority quality metrics.

Chelsea Chapman, RN, BSN, PCCN: MSPCU

One of Chelsea’s largest accomplishments for the MSPCU came through her development of a bedside tool to guide nurses in completing a two-person skin check on admission and transfer to the unit. To improve skin assessment during these transitions of care, Chelsea focused her efforts on staff education through staff meetings, emails, one-on-one education rounds, and unit shift huddles. She also developed and presented a skin boot camp to reeducate and reinforce the staff’s knowledge on pressure injury staging, wound care, the two-person skin check process, and documentation.

ANCC Magnet Nurses of the Year recipients

2016: Colleen K. McIlvennan, DNP, RN, ANP-BC

Empirical Outcomes. Colleen generated groundbreaking research encompassing patients’ and caregivers’ emotional, rational and fundamental beliefs when considering an LVAD. The resulting data was published in three high-impact, peer-reviewed journals targeted at nursing, cardiology and surgical colleagues who implant LVADs. This work led to the development of two innovative decision aids, an eight-page pamphlet and a 26-minute video that are being used by LVAD programs across the U.S. and Canada. These efforts led to a $2 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. McIlvennan’s pilot work and testing of the decision aids has led to national recognition from the American Heart Association and the Heart Failure Society of America.

2013: Samantha Weimer, BSN, RN, CCRN

New Knowledge. Samantha led an inter-professional quality improvement team to develop a standardized protocol to treat patients with severe frostbite, which has saved 41 fingers and toes so far. In addition, she organized an initiative that reduced catheter-associated blood stream infections to zero, and created an innovative process to increase the skill set of nurses caring for burn patients. Outside the hospital, she has educated local EMS, fire departments, rural communities, and mountain resorts about beginning frostbite treatment hours before patients reach the hospital.

2011: Tracey Anderson, MSN, RN, CNRN, FNP-BC, ACNP-BC

Structural Empowerment. Tracey developed the hospital’s Stroke Program and led its successful effort to gain Joint Commission certification as a Primary Stroke Center. She has also developed stroke education programs for rural emergency medical services facilities. Earlier this year, she wrote a grant that ultimately helped to defray expenses for nurses preparing for the Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse (CNRN) exam. Fourteen staff nurses earned the CNRN certification in 2011.

Video: UCHealth Nurses Week 2020

The theme for National Nurses Week 2020 is compassion, expertise and trust. UCHealth nurses exemplified this theme as they stepped up to unprecedented challenges in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


UCHealth 2020 Nursing Year in Review

UCHealth Nursing 2019 Annual Report

UCHealth Nursing 2018 Annual Report

UEXCEL program

Nurse residencies at UCHealth

Careers at UCHealth

ANCC Magnet Recognition Program

Colorado Board of Nursing