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WellStar’s Downs wins Executive Nursing Leadership Excellence Award

Stuart Downs of WellStar Atlanta Medical Center was awarded the second annual Executive Nursing Leadership Excellence Award last month at the Celebrating Nurses luncheon.

This award recognizes a Chief Nursing Officer or Chief Nursing Executive serving in an administrative capacity in a Metro Atlanta hospital who demonstrates advocacy, vision and collaboration to improve patient care and the nursing workplace.

Currently serving as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the facility, Stuart was Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer there before assuming his present role.

Prior to joining WellStar, Stuart was Chief Nursing Officer at Eastside Medical Center, WellStar North Fulton Hospital, and Rockdale Medical Center. He also currently serves on the board of the American Organization of Nursing Executives.

Stuart earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Southeastern Louisiana University and his Master’s in Healthcare Administration from Central Michigan University. He earned both his Master’s in Nursing with a concentration in Health Systems Management and his Doctor of Nursing Practice with a concentration in Health Systems Management from Vanderbilt University.

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Stuart joined WellStar Atlanta Medical Center shortly after the facility’s purchase from Tenet Healthcare. In his time there, he:

• Recruited an executive nursing team charged with coaching, mentoring, education and recognition.

• Empowered nurses to create posters during Nurses Week 2017 that highlighted their work and accomplishments – the result being 28 posters that were then professionally printed and showcased to the community.

• Led efforts with an AONE committee of Chief Nursing Officers to create an orientation plan and competencies to develop and grown CNO’s into their new roles – and developed three nurses to become CNO’s at their facilities.

One of Stuart’s signature touches is his practice of sending handwritten notes of congratulations, praise or thanks to nurses who have gone above and beyond, and he delights in seeing the joy and pride that result from this simple act of recognition. He has also been known to send thank-you notes to the families of nurses who worked holiday shifts.

For a sense of the passion that drives Stuart, we turn to one of his nominators, who described him as a “nurse’s nurse”, noting that he “believes that he has had the most rewarding career in nursing where he is entrusted to improve humanity and human life”.

Mercer University supported the co-sponsorship of this award: Georgia Baptist College of Nursing, and Penfield College. Georgia Baptist College of Nursing is the oldest established nursing program in Georgia. Established in 1902, the College is nationally recognized for educating superior nursing leaders who provide significant healthcare contributions across the globe. Penfield College also contributes to healthcare career opportunities through educational programs in healthcare leadership, informatics and organizational leadership.

Three judges reviewed this year’s nominations: On behalf of Mercer University, Dr. Cindy Rubenstein, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for the Undergraduate Program at Georgia Baptist College of Nursing; and Dr. Laura Morrow, Associate Professor of Leadership Studies at Penfield College. And on behalf of the Georgia Nurses Association, Dr. Stephan Davis, who serves as its Director of Leadership Development.

The criteria for the Executive Nursing Leadership Excellence Award are based on the premise that a CNO or CNE:

• Plays a critical role in advancing a positive image of the nursing profession,

• Has a positive value orientation,

• Seeks personal development by proactively maintaining competence in nursing,

• Promotes the professional development of others and a supportive working environment, and

• Responds to challenges with innovative approaches.

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