2020 Star Nurses Weekly Spotlight - Chapter 4

The Washington Post in conjunction with the American Nurses Association would like to shine a light on our 2020 Star Nurses finalists. Nominated by patients and peers, and then selected from among hundreds of nominees, these women and men, working on the front lines of health care in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, represent the epitome of skill, professionalism and care. As a part of the recognition of the 2020 Star Nurses finalists we will spotlight nurses each week through the end of summer.


Jane Candelaria Rumingan - Inova Mount Vernon Hospital

“Caring is sharing!” Jane says, and that is the reason she chose this field. “Nursing is an opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives and the amount of satisfaction that you can experience in doing so.”

One personal way Jane makes a real difference with her patients is by singing. “I ask them what’s their favorite song and I make up lyrics for them. An example, to the tune of ‘Amazing Grace,’ I sing, ‘Amazing Jane, that's me your nurse and I'll take care of you... when you’re in pain, I'll give your meds and I will give you rest!’ After that we have a great night!”

Nursing allows the 28-year veteran to “inspire, innovate and influence. It's a great feeling and priceless to be able to make a difference in someone's life.”

Also priceless: Jane’s family. The graduate of Wesleyan University–Philippines and native of that nation finds her greatest inspriation at home. She is also inspired by the transformational leadership she has seen grow in her time in the profession.

Jane says her nomination as a Star Nurse is humbling. But, she adds, “I believe all my colleagues deserve to be a Star Nurse!”


Janet Setnor – Austin-Weston Center

Janet Setnor

As the spouse of an Air Force fighter pilot, Janet sought a profession which would be challenging, rewarding, portable and offered opportunities for growth. “Knowing there were going to be moves every two or three years,” she says, “as well as long periods of separation, this choice of profession was daunting.”

As often happens with young nurses, she came under the tutelage of someone inspirational. “I met the amazing Olinda Spitzer, RN, MSN, CNS, CCRN, she says, “Olinda’s husband was also a fighter pilot. Although now retired, she continues to live and breathe the profession of nursing. She was one of the original CCRNs,” Janet continues. “Her enthusiasm for the profession of nursing was, and remains, infectious!”

Olinda inspired Janet with words to live by as a nurse. “‘Lead by example,’” Olinda taught her. “‘It’s the only true form of leadership.’” Janet credits her nomination as a Strar Nurse to her mentor. “This recognition is payment, in part, on the debt owed to Olinda Spitzer” as well as all of the mentors and friends, Janet says, who openly encouraged her to pursue nursing.

Janet, an Old Dominion graduate and Springfield, Va., native, sees the advancement of leadership training for nurses as a significant upward trend in the profession. It is that training that has enabled nurses to take key leadership positions previously held only by physicians, she says. “It was my honor,” she says, “to work for Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, a women’s health nurse practitioner, who is now the 23rd U.S. Air Force Surgeon General, and the first nurse in the Air Force to hold this position. She is a guiding beacon for our profession.”

In her 35 years as a nurse, Janet has grown to understand that the first duty of a leader is to train other leaders. “If this award,” Janet concludes, “inspires the next generation of nurses to pursue our profession, then it will have served a noble purpose that will produce positive repercussions for years to come.”


Jeanne R. Ricks – Children’s National Hospital

Jeanne R. Ricks

Nursing provides Jeanne a venue to demonstrate hereditary gifts. “Service, advocacy and health care are integral parts of my family,” she says. “My father (a community physician) and an aunt (a nurse) modeled the gift of healing, advocacy, compassion and support.” It is a tradition of care, she adds, that touches “all aspects of caring for children,” including clinical, social, care planning and family caring.

Her family, along with her faith “and the desire to be better and do better for those I care for” inspire her daily. “A child's laughter, a smile or their brilliant observations have so much to teach us.”

Jeanne has been in nursing for more than 40 years, yet the District native says there is more to be done “in progressing and improving pediatric care. Working in an organization,” she continues, “that shares the passion and core values of compassion, commitment and connection that I hold, help me to know this is valuable work. Seeing the impact of quality improvement, research and advocacy for our children keeps me motivated. As a longtime advocate for patients and families, this is my sweet spot, my true north.”

She also has an eye on the future. “We need to equip and empower our future nurses,” says the Hampton University graduate. “Novice nurses and leaders need support in providing experiences as health complexity rises. They need our support in integration into the workforce, reaching milestones, and then retaining them as valuable team members. We need to reach into the community, high schools to foster an interest in the profession. We are fortunate to have programs at Children’s National through the Conway scholarship and mentorship program as well as our BearPairs program, in which I serve as a mentor, to accomplish this work.”

Taking time to recognize people, share a smile and conversation shows individuals that they matter, Jeanne says. “I just listen. I try to be visible to my team and peers as well as the patients and families. Dealing with illness, disease or the unknown weighs heavily, and for just a few minutes they get to tell their story and I listen. It’s not easy always, but it is so worthwhile.

“I get my cup filled when my team shares an accomplishment,” Jeanne concludes. “When we have made a difference in our patients’ health and experience; or when a grateful family shares a nod or smile; even when we miss the mark and we can recover, we win.  This award is truly a team award. One is not a leader without having those that follow. So our successes are celebrated in being recognized” as a Star Nurse.


Jennypher Dichoso – Inova Alexandria Hospital

Jennypher Dichoso

“The nursing profession is very similar to motherhood,” says Star Nurses finalist Jennypher. “As a mother gives care to her child, a nurse gives care to her patient. I enjoy taking care of my own family while also taking care of my patients as family.”

Jennypher long go found her inspration in “the hardworking women in my family, starting from my mother, Jenny Bania, to my aunts.” The 26-year nursing veteran describes these potent forces: “They are the strong and generous women dedicated to their families and their professions. They have inspired me to be who I am today. I am so proud to come from generations of Filipina nurses.”

She looks inward for the motivation “to be the best nurse I can be. Every time I wake up, I pray for God’s grace to be a blessing to others. I do my best to care for my patients and co-workers. I seek to empower new moms and dads in how to take care of themselves as they take care of a baby. Co-workers and new nurses motivate me to encourage and nurture the next generation of nurses. My husband, Ben, and our four children also motivate me to do my very best.”

The graduate of the University of Santo Tomas Aquina–Legaspi has also witnessed insprational change in the profession. “Diversity, technology and advancement…I learned from different cultures, behaviors and beliefs,” she says. That has helped her to be more effective in listening and caring for a diverse population of patients. Technology has brought about greater efficiencies in patient care. Advancement opportunities have given nurses more respect and progress in the profession, she points out.

As for connecting with those in her care, “I understand their pains,” Jennypher says. “From empathizing to celebrating, I am there for every patient’s progress to health and wellness. These are the moments that makes me love my calling.

“I am humbled and honored” to receive Star Nurses recognition, Jennypher concludes. It gives “meaning to my calling, my passion, my fire. It gives me hope and inspires me to do more for my patients, family, colleagues and a new generation of nurses.”


Jo Talley – Children’s National Hospital

Jo Talley

Jo has been a nurse for 42 years and continues to be inspired every day by the patients and families that Children’s National Hospital serves. “Their courage in the face of adversity is remarkable,” she says, and she is fulfilling a dream of decades ago. “I loved the idea of helping others, especially children.”

She finds “such joy in the work we do at Children’s National. I love working with nurses and helping them to develop in their practice and leadership. I bring a positive attitude and laughter to my work everyday.”

Jo, a native of Donora, Pa., says she has been motivated over the years by the many opportunities afforded her to continue to grow and develop as a nurse and leader. “Nurses are leading in policy making, clinical practice, education and research,” she says. “The opportunities for nurses to make a difference have grown so much in the last four decades.”

She earned her BS at Duquesne University and her MS at Catholic University, and after years in the profession, she says Star Nurses designation is an honor. “To be recognized for the work I love…There are so many excellent nurses that to be nominated for such an award is humbling.”


Jonas Nguh – Walden University

Jonas Nguh updated

Dr. Jonas Nguh, a faculty member in Walden University’s College of Nursing, is a global health scholar and practitioner guided by a passion for caring for disenfranchised populations. His scope of practice has been maternal, newborn, and child health programs; immunization; family planning and reproductive health; nutrition; strengthening health systems; water/sanitation and hygiene; malaria; prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV; and pediatric HIV care and treatment in sub-Saharan and low-resource countries.

The recipient of numerous awards for public health, community service, and leadership, Dr. Nguh was recently selected as a 2020 Star Nurse by The Washington Post and the American Nurses Association. “Honored and humbled” by the Star Nurses recognition, he has been in nursing for 21 years and is guided by a “passion for caring for the disenfranchised population.” HeHe has also received Walden University’s 2018–2019 Commitment to Social Change Award and 2013 Outstanding Alumni Award in recognition of his commitment to service, which he views as a response to his upbringing in the West African nation of Cameroon. He connects with patients “by relating to their experience.”

His efforts include starting a nonprofit to help immigrant women in the U.S. network with each other, access healthcare services, and become more educated. In 2010, he traveled to Haiti after the earthquake to address basic sanitation issues in nursing and hospital settings. In 2016, he set up a maternal and infant health clinic in his native Cameroon. As a university instructor, he actively seeks to involve his students in community service. “My fulfillment comes from working for the good of the community,” he says. 

In addition to his volunteer work, Dr. Nguh serves on several healthcare boards, including the regional chapter of Nurse.com, the American Association of Men in Nursing, the American College of Healthcare Executives (National Capital Chapter), and the National Blood Clot Alliance. He is also a peer reviewer for several journal editorial boards. Dr. Nguh earned his BSN and PhD in Public Health from Walden University.


Jordan Goss-Packard  – George Washington University Hospital

Jordan Goss-Packard

“Never in a million years would I have expected my career to take me this far,” says Jordan, who in only two years in the field finds himself recognized as a Star Nurse. “I am so appreciative to be recognized for the work that I’ve done.”

A Rockville, Md., native and grad of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Jordan regards himself as “a very caring person” and is driven by making sure that the patient’s experience is as pleasant as it can be so that they can be comfortable during their stay. There is nothing as motivatiing as “the appreciation that my patients show me while I am caring for them.”

He cites his autonomy as a nurse and being involved in the patient’s plan of care as daily on-the-job inspration.

But he has never had to look far for his greatest inspiration. “My mom, a cancer survivor of 11 years and counting, inspires me every day,” Jordan says.


Kara Johnson – Inova Mount Vernon Hospital

Kara Johnson

“Patients often give nurses compliments,” says Kara, “and those always bring a smile to my face.” But Star Nurses recognition “is different and very special because it comes from my colleagues, people I have a huge amount of respect for. It also tells me that what I am doing is making a bigger impact than just to the patients I’ve been honored to care for.”

The Denver native says she believes her love of health care began with a sad chapter in her young life. “When I was in kindergarten, I was greatly affected by the loss of my best friend. When she became sick, I remember spending time in the hospital with her and her dad and her nursing staff, trying to make it positive with magic tricks and watching our favorite show.” Nursing became a place to blend her interest in science and love for people, she says.

Kara says her greatest inspiration was her grandmother. “We were very close and she loved history, and taught me about her generation’s upbringing. Her stories of the past gave me a huge love of our country, and an appreciation of her generation. She was so proud of being one of only a few girls she knew who graduated high school, and a working mom.  She was fiercely independent, stubborn as a mule, and accepted little in excuses. She had an amazing moral compass, and taught me values that I try to live up to today: family always, be a good citizen, and work hard.”

She adds that she is also inspired by how much nursing has advanced over that last decade or so. “We have always been respected for our compassion and integrity, but the respect for the knowledge we bring to our patient care has grown. We have really blown the top right off of the box on what it means to be a nurse.”

Family, “first and foremost” keeps Kara motivated. The 14-year veteran nurse has two young girls “and I want them to grow up to be proud, strong, independent, loving women,” she says.

With degrees from South University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Kara has always had high expectations of herself. “I value hard work and believe that being a nurse is part of who I am. It’s not  just my job when I have my badge on.” 


Karen McQuillan – University of Maryland Medical Center

Karen McQuillan

Karen has to look no further than her floor for inspration. In a profession that allows her to continually expand her knowledge and help others, she says she is inspired “by the nurses I am privledged to work with and the truly courageous care they provide to patients and their families. As nurses,” she adds, “we make an incredible difference in the lives of others.”

After 39 years in the field, she also finds herself inspired by novice nurses “being the catalyst for changes that improve care, and nurses having a voice at more decision-making tables.”

Karen says she looks at challenges as opportunites, and she carries this ideal “in helping the nurses and other health-care team members I work with provide the best possible care to their patients and families.” The Severna Park, Md., native and University of Maryland School of Nursing grad says she adds a personal touch to care by providing positive reinforcement and using her sense of humor.

One last sentiment from Karen: “I am humbled and honored to be recognized as a Star Nurse!”


Karen Showalter – Medstar Georgetown University Hospital

Karen was in the hospital for a few surgeries as a child, and she was scared. “It was the nurses who were there to help calm me down and hold my hand while my mom took a break,” she recalls. It wasn’t until an incident later in life while in church, however, that the Bethesda, Md., native knew for certain what her calling was to be.

“I went off to college and studied sociology but had many friends in the nursing program, and was very interested in their classes and clinicals,” she says. One day at Mass a man seated in front of her went into cardiac arrest “and I felt helpless. I moved back a row and watched EMS work on him, and as I watched I knew that the call I had felt on and off throughout my life was real, and I said yes right there in church. I married the love of my life three months later and moved to Northern Michigan where I entered nursing school (at UNM) after the birth of my second child.”

Even after 29 years in the field, Karen is inspired by her patients who “continuously call me to be a better nurse. Their needs, their stories, their suffering inspire me to do whatever I can to help them heal, accept and journey through their illness.”

Karen says she is humbled by the Star Nurses honor becase she feels “all nurses are stars.  It is a great honor to be recognized for simply answering the call all those years ago. Being a good nurse takes a great support system, family and work environment. I have all of that,” she concludes, “and I feel like those who support me are the stars.”

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