Posted on: December 3, 2018
The March of Dimes Nebraska and Western Iowa chapter honors nurses each year during the Nurse of the Year awards ceremony. The event celebrates nursing professionals who demonstrate exceptional skills and leadership within the field. During this year’s ceremony on Nov. 15, two Clarkson College faculty members received recognition for their dedication to the profession.
Director of Professional Development Judi Dunn earned the Academic Excellence Award for her years of commitment to the nursing field, specifically in adult education. The award honors a nursing instructor who demonstrates distinction in education, conducting research or providing practice expertise to nursing students. Award winners must promote a positive nursing image, exhibit strong leadership skills and exemplify an extraordinary level of care and compassion.
“This award has a significant amount of meaning to me because the nomination came from my colleagues here at Clarkson College,” said Dunn. “We have an extraordinary group of health care professionals working here and having their endorsement means the world to me.”
Dunn began her nursing career out of necessity, but it grew into a lifelong passion. “At the time I was finishing high school, there was not a wide range of employment opportunities for women,” she said. “My mother was a nurse, and I knew that in the nursing field I could not only find a career, but also help people.”
Education has always been Dunn’s focus, even while earning her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Bowling Green State University and her Master’s degree in Nursing from the University of Colorado-Denver. Before joining the Clarkson College community in 2002 as the Coordinator of Continuing Education, Dunn worked in various roles as a patient teacher as well as a trainer. “I have especially enjoyed moving into continuing nursing education because it utilizes not only education principals, but also administrative skills.”
March of Dimes honored Associate Nursing Professor Joan Blum (’81, ’86) with the Spirit of Nursing Award during the Nurse of the Year awards ceremony. Nominees for the Spirit of Nursing Award must represent nursing excellence in all of their professional endeavors. They must also demonstrate exceptional leadership skills, extraordinary levels of care and compassion and a positive image of nursing within the community. Colleagues, supervisors, students and patients may nominate nurses who practice in Nebraska and Western Iowa for consideration.
“It is an honor to be nominated by my peers who recognize my passion for nursing and contributions to Clarkson College,” said Blum. “This award exemplifies what nursing is truly about for me: caring and compassion.”
These values have been inherent in Blum’s career since earning her diploma in 1981 and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in 1986 from Bishop Clarkson School of Nursing. She practiced in medical surgical, cardiac and oncology units at both large and small institutions throughout her 37-year career. Blum earned her Master’s degree in Nursing from Drake University in 1993 and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Family Nurse Practitioner in 1998.
Teaching was always part of her plan, but it was during her graduate work that Blum began to feel inspired to become an educator. “My graduate advisor was nurturing, patient and persistent and she made me believed that I was the most important student with the more fascinating thesis she ever read,” she said. “Her holistic approach as an educator truly inspired me, and I knew that was the type of educator I wanted to strive to be.”
Blum turned her attention to teaching in 2004 when she joined Clarkson College as an instructor in the BSN program. “I knew as far back as undergraduate that I wanted to teach someday,” she said. “I only ever considered teaching at Clarkson College because I knew that my beliefs aligned with the type of nursing program at the College.”