Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center Nurse Recognized As National Nurse of The Year
Mary Vecchio, RN, MSN, APN-C, OCN, Cancer Outreach Nurse Practitioner for the Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center was awarded Nursing Spectrum’s National Nurse of the Year for Community Service. Ms. Vecchio won the Nursing Spectrum’s Regional Award in June which put her in the running to be selected from a national pool in which six Excellence Award winners were chosen from the following categories: Advancing and Leading the Profession, Clinical Care, Community Service, Management, Mentoring, and Teaching.
According to Nursing Spectrum, the winner of this award epitomizes all that is best within the profession of nursing. “Each winner has created a legacy of inspiration and accomplishment,” says Judith Mitiguy, RN, MS, executive vice president, Nursing Communications and Initiatives, Gannett Healthcare Group. “Nursing Spectrum considers it a privilege to honor nurses from across the country through regional and
national excellence awards. As in years past, the six national winners represent all that is right and good and true within nursing. They set an example for professionals within and outside healthcare through their leadership, wisdom, expertise, and compassion.”
Part of Ms. Vecchio’s role at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center is to educate the community on cancer awareness. Ms. Vecchio recognizes that the best information is useless if you do not get the attention of the people you want to teach. She has worked to develop tools and teaching methods that actively catch people’s attention and is resilient enough to keep going back until she affects the change she wants.
“My mom and dad always led by example. At a young age I understood how important it was to understand the needs of others and reach out to make a difference. This award recognizes the values that both my parents instilled in me and I am grateful for this acknowledgement,” explained Ms. Vecchio. Ms Vecchio added, “I feel privileged to go to work each day and work with the people at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center. The science of medicine is the same no matter where you go, it is the people that make the difference.”
Ms. Vecchio works with the Cancer Education and Early Detection (CEED) patients, providing free education and screening as needed. Funding through the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Central & South Jersey Affiliate has allowed Ms. Vecchio to create the “VIP Program of Hunterdon County,” which educates women who are 65 years and older to assure that they are receiving their annual screening mammogram. Statistics have shown that 46% of women covered by Medicare in Hunterdon County do not get their annual mammogram. The goal of the VIP program is to identify barriers that are preventing women from receiving this valuable exam and educate the women on the importance of obtaining their annual mammogram.
“Mary is the nurse everyone strives to emulate. All who know her are proud to be called her colleagues, and are humbled by her love for and her commitment to Hunterdon Healthcare, her community, and the profession of nursing,” stated Barbara Tofani, RN, MSN, Administrative Director of Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center.
In the past two years, Ms. Vecchio has spoken over 3,600 people at community fairs, presentations, screenings and personal encounters. Ms. Vecchio was a key member of the team that helped make Hunterdon Healthcare a tobacco free campus, she was instrumental in their Magnet designation and Accreditation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.
She has presented at the National Oncology Nursing Society’s annual meeting and has written articles for a number of nursing journals and often can be heard on WDVR during Hunterdon Medical Center’s Ask the Nurse segment with Richard Gerstner.
“When I’m involved with a group, whether in my professional or personal life, I’m seeking out the teachable moment. Making a connection that has a positive impact is an amazing experience. Community service is the opportunity to be that pebble that sends out the ripple of change,” stated Ms. Vecchio. From creating new programs and working within the community to helping patients overcome obstacles, the accomplishments and efforts of Ms. Vecchio will continue to impact the community.