2023 Excellence in Nursing Award Recipients

Pittsburgh Magazine has announced the 2023 Excellence in Nursing award recipients, and among the list of the region’s most distinguished nursing professionals includes three University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing faculty members and several alumni.

The Pitt Nursing faculty winners include:

Heeyoung Lee, PhD, CRNP, PMHNP-BC, associate professor and chair, Department of Health and Community Systems: Excellence in Nursing - Advanced Practitioner.

Teresa Hagan Thomas, PhD ’15, BSN ‘10, RN, associate professor: Excellence in Nursing - Researcher

Young Ji Lee, PhD, RN, associate professor of nursing and medicine, and vice chair of administration received an Honorable Mention – Researcher.

The Pitt Nursing alumni honored include:

Wendy Angus, Cert, ’07: Honorable Mention – Community/Ambulatory
Mary Kay Gill, BSN ’81: Honorable Mention - Academic
Rebecca Kronk, MSN ’99: Excellence in Nursing - Academic
Jamie Malone, BSN ’12 – Honorable Mention – Clinical Instructor/Educator
Carol Miller, BSN ’86: Honorable Mention – Community/Ambulatory
Sandra Rader, honorary alumni: Excellence in Nursing – Leadership/Executive
Jessica Sarno, MSN ’13: Honorable Mention – Advanced Practitioner
Marcy Zoller, MSN ’06: Honorable Mention – Advanced Practitioner

Heeyoung Lee said her older sister’s career as a medical surgical nurse significantly guided her path toward the nursing profession and as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP).

“Her experience and stories gave me valuable insight into the field, such as the day-to-day realities of patient care,” she said. “She often spoke about the impact nurses have on patients’ lives. Her dedication made a significant difference in patient recovery, and this motivated and encouraged me to follow in her footsteps.”

Lee said it’s rewarding as a PMHNP when she’s able to witness a patient recover from an illness while under her care and support. She also said guiding her students and watching them succeed and grow is rewarding.

“For individuals pursuing a career in nursing, identifying your passion and developing resilience are the most important aspects. The nursing profession demands dedication and hard work, frequently in difficult and emotionally challenging situations. Having a passion for your profession and equipping yourself with resilience will motivate you to persevere through tough times.”

Teresa Hagan Thomas said she decided to enter nursing as a more tangible way to help those around her.

“I was drawn to how nursing focused on people holistically and not just their health or disease,” she said. “I loved my prior studies in anthropology and international peace studies, but I wanted a more direct way to address health problems of the day. Nursing allowed me ample opportunities to learn, pursue ongoing studies and impact my community and world.”

Hagan Thomas said she enjoys working in academics and research because it gives her the best of both worlds.

“My research allows me to ask questions about how best to care for individuals holistically and find empirical ways to document and improve what matters most to them,” she said. “My teaching allows me to learn from people with different perspectives and backgrounds than I have, which always improves our work.”

She continued, “I advise students to open their eyes and minds. There are many ways to develop as a nurse; in most areas of the workforce, there is a nurse working. Let your interests and passions guide your development – so much flexibility and creativity could take you places you never thought a nurse could be.”

View the complete list of Pittsburgh Magazine’s eighth annual Excellence in Nursing Award recipients.