Outstanding Nurses

2012 Outstanding Nurses Awards

Recognizing the unsung heroes of health care.

2012 Outstanding Nurses Awards

“My favorite success stories are when I was able to provide actual patient care and also give emotional support and caring.”
— Jo McLaughlin


HealthPartners Medical Group and Clinics
Director for nursing and nutrition services, focusing on nursing leadership and specialty ambulatory care practice

“I will always remember a young child who was on dialysis and was awaiting a kidney transplant. One night the parents were not able to stay with her. Shortly after I started my shift, her call light went on and I went in to see what she needed. She was frightened about being alone. We moved her to a room closer to the nurse’s station. The rest of the night we were able to have someone stay at her bedside, and finally she was able to fall asleep.”

Take an active role in the management of your health and medical conditions.


“We are all human, all struggling in this world to make a good life for ourselves and those we care about.”
— Heather Nelson


Regions Hospital Emergency Center
Registered nurse focusing on emergency care and sexual assault examination; St. Paul Park firefighter

“Recently, in my role as a sexual assault nurse examiner, a patient was blaming herself because she was addicted to heroine and had been prostituting herself when a man kidnapped her and held her hostage for days, assaulting her frequently. We had nowhere to discharge this woman. The shelters were full, as was the hotel we frequently use for others in similar situations. I decided to take a chance. I reserved her a room at a different hotel, which gave me a huge discount. I got her a cab ride, gave her a bit of money for food, and told her to call me if she ran into major problems. I didn’t hear from her until several months later. She called me and told me she was in treatment, that I treated her like she was human—like she was a sister—and that it gave her the courage to change her life.”



Minnesota Oncology
Clinical nurse specialist focusing on direct patient care through cancer survivorship visits

“I had a young woman diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Every night she wrote furiously, documenting important memories and words of wisdom for her children. I would just sit with her and listen. I brought her pads of yellow paper. When she went to hospice, she presented me with a five-page note thanking me for taking care of her soul. It has been 21 years. I still have that letter and pull it out to help me remember the importance of what I do.”



Ridgeview Medical Center Neonatal Care Unit
Registered nurse focusing on neonatal care and maternal child health

“Being an outstanding nurse requires you to be available to celebrate the phenomenal firsts (such as a first feeding), to hold hands and listen to a scared or frustrated parent, and to explain the complex equipment and procedures that surround a tiny new life.

“It requires you to be available to work an unscheduled shift in the middle of the night because triplets are being born; to help your fellow nurses; to be continually learning, applying, and adapting new information to provide the most up-to-date care with a positive attitude, smile, and sense of humor.”



Diamond Women’s Center
Certified nurse midwife focusing on the care of healthy women from adolescence through menopause, with a special focus on pregnancy and birth

“The word ‘midwife’ means ‘with woman.’ I have had the honor of welcoming hundreds of babies into parents’ loving arms. I am proud to have been the first midwife to receive hospital privileges at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Fairview Southdale Hospital.

“There have been many advances in birth technology. However, there seems to be a focus on potential birth problems. Though this is well-intentioned, many women have such a fear of birth they lose sight of their own ability to develop a calm and welcoming approach to this life-changing event.”

Understand the power of birth. around campfires and do not leave children unattended around fires.
Have faith in your body. Know that it is competent and embrace its inner strength.

Judges' Profiles


Linda Chlan

University of Minnesota School of Nursing

Linda Chlan is an associate professor for the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota. She has worked in the field of nursing for 28 years. She received both her master’s and doctorate from the U of M and completed additional postdoctoral research training at the University of Iowa. Her undergraduate degree is from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth.

Chlan is the recipient of the Circle of Excellence award from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, the Presidential Citation for Service from the Society of Critical Care Medicine, and the DAISY Faculty Mentor Award from the U of M.


“The opportunity and privilege of nurses, to enter a life at its greatest need and offer not just their skill but themselves, is what drives us forward to serve.”
— Ranae Claeys


Mayo Clinic

Renae Claeys has been passionate about nursing for 13 years, with a professional background in the area of thoracic surgical progressive care. She began her career with Mayo in 2000 as a nurse aid, obtaining her associate’s degree at Rochester Community and Technical College and her undergraduate degree at Winona State University. She currently works in the perianesthesia care unit and the pediatric outpatient care area at Mayo.

Claeys volunteers for many committees and takes on leadership roles within her unit and hospital. She also volunteers for Smile Network International, taking mission trips to serve the children of Peru.