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Excellence in Clinical Nursing


An RN who demonstrates superior clinical nursing knowledge and expert skills and who applies both talents in ways that measurably impact the quality of patient care and improve outcomes in any clinical setting or nursing specialty.


Debra Skopec, BSN, RN, NIC-BC


Neonatal Outcomes RN, NICU


Advocate Children’s Hospital-Oak Lawn (Ill.)


Excellence in


Community Care


An RN who exemplifi es outstanding clinical knowledge and nursing expertise in caring for patients in settings beyond the hospital, including professional home care nursing; home hospice; sub-acute and intermediate care; and other ambulatory community, industrial or school nurse roles.


Michele Rubin, MSN, APN, CSN-BC, CGRN


Clinical Nurse Specialist, Colorectal Surgery


University of Chicago Medicine


Skopec said winning the GEM Award for Excellence in Clinical Nursing was “an incredible affi rmation of my personal calling from my nursing colleagues and community.” She called this recognition her “nursing Oscar,” and said hearing her name announced as a GEM winner made her feel shocked, excited, elated, grateful and humbled.


Skopec started her career as a staff nurse in the NICU 32 years ago, and said assuming the role of neonatal outcomes nurse at Advocate Children’s has had the greatest impact on her professional journey. “I have learned to search for the best evidence to drive our practice and to mentor others in these practices,” she said.


Skopec motivates her colleagues with the motto, “Never say we can’t, say how can we?” She led the NICU team to reduce chronic lung disease in premature infants, collaborating with other NICUs across the U.S. The NICU at Advocate Children’s surpassed the goal staff members set, reducing the rate of chronic lung disease by more than half, from 22% to 10.3%, and assisted other NICUs to improve their outcomes as well.


14 Visit us at NURSE.com • 2016


Winning the GEM Award for Community Care Nursing made Rubin feel proud to be among a group of nurses who exemplify character and excellence. Rubin said nursing always has been her passion, so receiving an award for doing what she does naturally is amazing.


Rubin, a known leader in the infl ammatory bowel disease nursing community, credits University of Chicago Medicine for its excellence in nursing professionalism, which, she said, was the foundation for her to gain the knowledge she needed to integrate evidence-based clinical research, write articles and book chapters and become an IBD nurse specialist.


Rubin said she is most proud of the diff erence she makes in patients’ lives. “Hearing that I have helped them better manage and understand their disease, addressed their questions and put a little humor back into their lives — this is what drives my passion to do what I do as a nurse,” she said.


Rubin advises fellow nurses to follow their passion, and be the best they can be. “You may surprise yourself as to what heights you can reach,” she said.


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