NJSNA Recognizes Top NJ Nurses

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(L-R) Beacon of Light Honoree Deborah Ewtushek, MSN, MS, RN, CCSN-NJ; Kate Gillespie, MBA RN NE-BC, chair of the Institute for Nursing and NJSNA president-elect, and Beacon of Light Honorable Mention Honoree Susan Weaver, Ph.D., RN, CRNI, NEA-BC at the Gala.

TRENTON, N.J.—April 9, 2018—The New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA) recently recognized Deborah Ewtushek, MSN, MS, RN, CCSN-NJ and Susan Weaver, Ph.D., RN, CRNI, NEA-BC for their outstanding work towards inspiring the lives of other nurses.

Ewtushek, a nurse educator at Ocean County College and Monmouth University and Point Pleasant Borough school nurse, was honored as the Beacon of Light for her outstanding work towards inspiring the lives of other nurses through leadership, service, community impact and mentorship. Weaver, a nurse scientist at Hackensack Meridian Health’s Ann May Center for Nursing in Neptune, was recognized with an Honorable Mention award.

The nurses were formally recognized along with Divas & Dons, community leaders and scholarship recipients at Institute for Nursing Awards and Scholarship Gala on April 5, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency Princeton.

“Deborah’s passion for educating students is endless. Her ability to interact with various individuals in a professional and collegial manner, as well as her knowledge in a multitude of areas within the academic setting and nurse profession, illuminates her passion for nursing education,” said Kate Gillespie, MBA RN NE-BC, chair of the Institute for Nursing and NJSNA president-elect. “She is an incredible example of what nursing is all about for she has made a difference in the school community and the greater nursing community, and Deb is an inspiration for other nurses and an example of what a Beacon of Light should be.”

Ewtushek and Weaver were selected from 14 peer-nominated nurses for the award.

“There’s one very special person who is not here today who helped me start my career, my mom. My mom only had an eighth-grade education and one pair of shoes until age 22 and she worked 35 years as a certified nurse’s assistant,” said Ewtushek, as she accepted the award. “She would look at the nurses and said they were the smartest and most highly educated women.”

Ewtushek loves working with students and proves it in all her activities. Whether it’s her role as a nursing skills lab supervisor at Ocean County College, teaching as an adjunct professor at Monmouth University, or helping students as a nurse at Point Pleasant Borough’s Memorial Middle School, she is always mentoring and educating students.

“Where there are students, there is Deb,” said A. Leah Kelly, a former nursing professor at Ocean County College who’s known Ewtushek for more than 20 years. “Her passion for educating students is endless, and so is her energy.”

At Ocean County College, Ewtushek implemented a pharmacology course that provides student nurses with a foundation for medication administration and works with students in the nursing skills lab to help them strengthen their medication calculation knowledge.

“She is a great problem-solver, is goal-oriented, and is able to not only motivate the students but to explain difficult concepts in a completely understandable fashion,” said Kelly, who nominated Ewtushek for the award. “Her reputation is so impeccable that students at OCC still ask where they can find Deb to have her help them with skills and medication calculation issues after graduation.”

Weaver is a nurse advocate, educator and mentor who loves to take young nurses under her wing. Throughout her career, she’s worked as a surgical ICU nurse, ICU nurse educator, administrative supervisor, assistant director of nursing and nurse scientist. Her research focuses on the impact administrative supervisors have on nurse and patient safety.

“Dr. Weaver’s main contributions to nursing are her unwavering encouragement, mentorship and advocacy for nurses as well as the profession of nursing through her personal relationships,” said Sandy Foley, an NJSNA member who nominated Weaver. “The documented evidence of her contributions are significant but, they are second in comparison to her daily advocacy.”

Part of Weaver’s advocacy is her role as board chairperson of the New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing (NJCCN), a center that works on behalf of nurses to provide evidenced-based recommendations regarding the nursing workforce and its impact on patient care.

Divas & Dons

Divas & Dons were recognized for outstanding professional career accomplishments. Divas and Dons are New Jersey nurses who have made an extraordinary impact on the profession and the community. Honorees are acknowledged for their efforts to advance wellness and promote health care initiatives, and for exhibiting extraordinary leadership and support of the nursing profession. They are being recognized for their contributions to nursing research, nursing education or administration and outstanding professional career accomplishments.

Divas & Dons

Lydia Albuquerque, DNP, RN-BC, ACNP-BC, CCRN

University Hospital

Jackie Baras, MSN, MBA, RN

Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health

Saundra Austin-Benn, MSN, APN-BC

Private Practice

Tracy Carlino, DNP, MA, RN, NEA-BC


Ann Marie Leichman, MSN, RN, NEA-BC

The Valley Hospital

Gina Miranda-Diaz, DNP, MPH, APHN- BC

West New York Health Department

Daniel Misa, MSN, RN, CEN, CPEN

The Valley Hospital

Larider Ruffin, DNP, APN, RN, ANP-BC, GNP, CRNP, CTTS

Stockton University


EPIC Awards

Community leaders who continue to support the state’s nursing profession were honored with the “Exceptional People Impacting our Communities” (EPIC) awards. Honorees were acknowledged for their efforts to advance wellness and promote health care initiatives, and for exhibiting extraordinary leadership and support of the profession of nursing.

EPIC Honorees

Robert P. Wise, MPH, FACHE

Hunterdon Healthcare

Susan Cholewka, MBA

Organization of Nurse Leaders of New Jersey

To learn more about the New Jersey State Nurses Association, visit www.njsna.org.


The New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA) represents the interests of 125,000 registered nurses and advanced practice nurses as an advocate for the nursing profession. NJSNA, which was established in 1901, is a constituent member of the American Nurses Association. NJSNA’s lobbying arm continues to protect the nursing profession through legislative victories. Its nonprofit foundation, Institute for Nursing, helps nurses further their careers by providing continuing education, scholarships and research grants in addition to invaluable networking opportunities. For more information, nurses can visit www.njsna.org or contact NJSNA at njsna@njsna.org or (609) 883-5335.



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