CAMDEN — The Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden has honored two of its distinguished alumnae for their career accomplishments in the nursing profession.
Adrienne Kirby, president and CEO of Cooper University Health Care, received the school’s Alumni Nursing Pioneer Award. Regina Grazel, a project coordinator for the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, was presented with the Alumni Nursing Excellence Award.
“These awards are presented to individuals who have made impressive contributions to nursing and healthcare,” says Joanne Robinson, dean of the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden. “They commit to making a difference every day and they are extraordinary role models for the next generation of nurses.”
The Alumni Nursing Pioneer Award is given annually to a trailblazer in nursing in recognition of significant and innovative contributions in the areas of practice, education, scholarship, and leadership.Kirby, who graduated from Rutgers–Camden in 1979, manages the daily operations and leads strategic initiatives for the entire Cooper University health system, which includes Cooper University Hospital and more than 100 office locations throughout South Jersey.
Of Rutgers–Camden, Kirby says, “I had the opportunity to learn in a small group environment and received personalized education and mentoring. That experience inspired me to want to continue to grow and expand my knowledge and expertise.”
Kirby says she is pleased with the growth and advancement of the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden as a center for health sciences in New Jersey.
Prior to her appointment as president and CEO, Kirby, who has more than 30 years of healthcare management experience, oversaw the strategic direction of Cooper’s health care delivery operations, including the 600-bed academic teaching hospital, 60 ambulatory sites and 500-member physician organization. She is also a member of the Cooper Health System Board of Trustees.
“The education of future nurses to serve our community is vitally important to our region,” says Kirby, who delivered the keynote address at the Rutgers–Camden nursing school’s 2013 commencement ceremony. “The population in our region is aging and our use of health care is increasing. As such, the need for well educated, highly skilled nursing professionals will be increasing. As an employer, I know firsthand how important that fact is as we actively recruit from Rutgers because the caliber of nursing graduates is outstanding.”The Alumni Nursing Excellence Award is given in recognition of extraordinary and enduring contributions to the nursing profession as a leader, scholar, educator, or clinician.
Grazel, who received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Rutgers–Camden in 1981, has more than 30 years of professional nursing experience and has made significant contributions to maternity and baby care and resuscitation training regionally and beyond.
In her current role with the American Academy of Pediatrics, Grazel is the project coordinator for the New Jersey Department of Health Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening Program, for which she develops parent and professional education materials and resources for 54 maternity hospitals.
“To be recognized by my alma mater is truly special,” Grazel says. “I am honored to receive an award amongst graduates of the nursing program at Rutgers–Camden who have gone on to make significant contributions to the field.”
Grazel also serves as a per diem perinatal clinical nurse specialist for Lourdes Health System and has worked in the level 3 NICU and Mother-Baby Unit at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center. She serves as the regional trainer and site coordinator for the Neonatal Resuscitation Program and coordinator of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.
“I am thankful for the high quality baccalaureate education that I received at Rutgers–Camden,” she says. “In addition to course studies, it was here at Rutgers–Camden where the expectations of the professional nurse as a leader were first described and further instilled. These principles have continued to guide me throughout my career.”
The Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden began awarding distinguished alumni with the Alumni Nursing Pioneer Award and the Alumni Nursing Excellence Award in 2012.