National Nurses Week (May 6-12) is an especially festive time at WVU Medicine-WVU Hospitals, as nurses make up the largest part of our workforce. This week we salute and reflect on the work of our 1,500 (and growing, due to expansion) nurses.

It’s easy to brag about this group.

With around 15 departments and five areas of specialty care, WVU Medicine nurses are vital to the care we provide. They are involved in almost every aspect of primary care, and the full range of specialty and sub-specialty care we offer. Many of them create lasting bonds with their patients, who look to them not just for clinical advice but for comfort and guidance.

Also, as an academic medical center, we work hand in hand with the WVU School of Nursing in our mission to train the next wave of nurses.

What is truly special about our nurses is their dedication, which extends far beyond the normal work shift. We have numerous opportunities for professional development, education and training, and a high percentage of our nurses take advantage of them, to the great benefit of our patients. In 2015, 77 percent of our nurses had attained a bachelor’s degree or higher, up almost 25 percent from 2009.

Vicki Chase (pictured above), who has been named the inaugural WVU Medicine-WVU Hospitals Magnet Nurse of the Year, is a prime example of a nurse who goes the extra mile.

Vicki, who has been a nurse for 30 years, is the department coordinator for the Diabetes Education Center. She has led multiple system improvement efforts to assure patients are receiving evidence-based care. She has impacted post-operative outcomes for newly-diagnosed patients with diabetes and the creation of a new insulin administration protocol, which has resulted in ongoing improvements in patient management.

To learn more about Vicki, along with Tiffany Muhly (pictured below, fourth from left) and Lisa Henry (pictured below, third from left), who were finalists for the Magnet Nurse of the Year award, view the press release. Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Doug Mitchell (pictured below, left) and I were honored to be part of the ceremony.

Vicki, Tiffany and Lisa are among the many WVU Medicine nurses who have added to their skill set over the years through education, training and a desire to do more.

We are so thankful to have all of you.

Where have all these attributes led? They’ve contributed significantly to attaining three Magnet designations for excellence in nursing from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the most recent in 2015. Ruby Memorial Hospital is the state’s only hospital to earn Magnet designation. Fewer than 400 of the nearly 6,000 hospitals in the U.S. have received Magnet designation.

The ANCC has recognized what we see every day – our nurses are the best!