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Two CRNAs honored at Cameos of Caring Awards Gala

The Cameos of Caring Awards Gala recognized nursing professionals who provide exceptional care, embody commitment and advance the profession. The 2017 honorees represented a variety of health systems/hospitals and schools of nursing in addition to specialty areas such as anesthesia, oncology, education, intensive care and emergency nursing. Two Pittsburgh-area CRNAs were recognized during the 2017 awards. Pam Norton, CRNA, BSN was honored and Rick Henker, CRNA, PhD was honored in the advanced practice category.

The Cameos of Caring program was established in 1999 by the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing to help recognize nursing professionals from 20 western Pennsylvania acute care hospitals. Cameos of Caring has expanded over time and now recognizes nurses throughout the region who serve at different levels of care with the advanced practice category being added in 2002.

From its inception, Cameos of Caring has recognized professionals working to advance and promote the profession while also demonstrating excellence in care. Through the years, those honored embody the roles of nurse, educator, advocate and role model. Rick Henker and Pam Norton add to the list of distinguished honorees.

The Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists congratulates Rick Henker and Pam Norton for being recognized as 2017 Cameos of Caring recipients.

The following is some background about the two recipients:

Dr. Rick Henker

Dr. Rick Henker was in the process of completing the nurse anesthesia program at the University of Pittsburgh when he was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma. At that time the survival rate was 48-52 percent and he considered withdrawing from the program but ultimately graduated after some encouragement from his daughters. The experience helped him realize the importance of following your passion and maintaining your practice. Those realizations have influenced his contributions to education, research and policy in nurse anesthesia.

Rick has been a CRNA for more than 15 years and has excelled in every aspect of the profession. From pre-operative to post-operative care, Rick’s work is comprehensive and flawless as he compassionately builds a relationship with the patient and respectfully works with every team member in the operating room.

As an educator he works with student nurse anesthetists to challenge and inspire them. Many students consider him one of their favorite professors, and his clinical and academic teaching abilities have earned him numerous awards.

A colleague said that, “Dr. Henker contributes immensely to instruction of future generations of student nurse anesthetists.”

His dedication to the profession extends beyond the clinical and academic arena as he works with Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO). While his work with HVO started as only clinical instruction, it led to the development of nurse anesthesia programs and policy initiatives in Belize, Cambodia and Bhutan.

“I tell people I have the best job in the world. I enjoy working with patients and families during a stressful time. Developing a plan to enhance a patient’s recovery and manage their pain can be very satisfying,” said Rick.

Pam Norton

Pam Norton knew in high school that she wanted to pursue a career in which she could help people through the medical field. Her guidance counselor helped her winnow the list of potential careers to three, one of which was nurse anesthesiology. More than 28 years later she is still working to put patient safety first as a CRNA at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital.

“I try to be always respectful and caring to patients, families and hospital personnel on a daily basis in an upbeat, positive approach. I believe if you present yourself in a poised, positive manner it spreads and reflects on not only yourself but more importantly on your department and your profession,” said Pam.

Her positive attitude and personal approach are a constant through her work in the operating room and the classroom. Pam consistently establishes rapport with patients and their families utilizing a personal and caring approach. She uses these skills when working with student nurse anesthetists and when encouraging young students to pursue nursing at career fairs.

“She has leadership skills and is frequently assigned as the Presby Charge CRNA. She is able to handle conflict and any situation which may arise with ease and professionalism. Everyone respects Pam and views her as a ‘role model’ as she builds a positive team spirit and cohesiveness,” said a colleague.

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