Four Travel Nurses Win 2021 Commitment to Excellence Awards

2021 CTE Winners

Annual awards program recognizes nurse travelers for Compassion, Passion, Innovation and Overall Excellence

Travel nurses are often the unsung heroes in healthcare—arriving on the scene at a hospital or clinic to provide staffing assistance without a lot of fanfare or recognition. Their focus is on providing excellent patient care and supporting the existing staff. 

These dedicated professionals play a vital role in healthcare and deserve to be recognized, during Nurses Month in May and throughout the year. In fact, some deserve individual recognition.

The Commitment to Excellence Awards program, sponsored by AMN Healthcare, is designed to recognize travel nurses who positively impact the lives of patients and their families every day. The awards have been presented annually in recognition of Nurses Week, and now Nurses Month in 2021. Among thousands of travel nurses working for the AMN family of companies, four were chosen as this year’s winners. 

These exemplary nurses were selected by a committee of healthcare employers, clinicians and recruiters, and are being recognized for showing an unwavering commitment to excellence in their profession that goes far beyond their job requirements. 

The 2021 Commitment to Excellence Awards include four categories: Overall Excellence, Innovation, Compassion and Passion. Read more about each winner by clicking on their names below.

Meet the 2021 Commitment to Excellence Awardees

2021 CTE Winner Kim Hendrick

Kimberly (Kim) Hedrick, RN, has been a nurse for over 16 years and was “kind of shocked” to learn that she was chosen for AMN Healthcare’s Commitment to Excellence Award for Overall Excellence.

Kim works as a travel nurse with American Mobile, and a colleague at her current assignment in a cancer care unit nominated her for this year’s award. The awards committee agreed that she clearly exhibits all three of the traits used to select honorees: compassion, passion and innovation. 

Her colleague noted, “She is an amazing nurse who deserves to be recognized for her hard work and dedication to ensuring every patient receives quality care.” The person added, “The patients talk about her and her love for the nursing profession as well as her endless ability to make them feel loved when the cancer makes them feel like they are at their worst…her patients know they can count on her to be there for them.”

Kim reflects that her diverse background has helped her become the nurse she is today, including experience in CVICU, long-term care, progressive/acute care, neurology and oncology. Her experiences with travel nursing have also allowed her to enhance her clinical skill set and her personal relationships. 

“I’ve really had some wonderful life experiences from travel nursing. I’ve made some lifelong friends and had some life-changing memories and happenings,” she said. “I’m overjoyed and beyond grateful for the experiences I have had with my patients.”

2021 CTE Winner Sandra Sabas

Sandra Sabas, RN, a telemetry/cardiac step-down nurse who travels with American Mobile, was named the winner of the 2021 Commitment to Excellence Award for Passion.

“I see the difference that Sandra makes on the people around her, and I cannot think of a more deserving nurse for this award!” said Katie McMullen, Sandra’s travel nurse recruiter.

Inspired by her mother, who worked as a surgical nurse, Sandra has embodied a strong passion for nursing throughout her career. She sees every patient encounter as a chance to care for someone or provide education that can help them understand their treatment plan and live a healthier life. She is also passionate about her travel nursing lifestyle.

Sandra was nominated by three different people for this year’s award, including one colleague who worked alongside her on an assignment. “She goes above and beyond for every single one of her patients and cares for them like they are one of her family members,” her fellow nurse wrote. “I do not know someone who advocates for their patients as much as Sandra does.” 

2021 CTE Winner Michael Soleas

Mike Soleas, RN, a first-time travel nurse with NurseChoice, was appreciative yet humble upon learning he had been chosen as the winner of the Commitment to Excellence Award for Compassion. He was quick to point out that compassion is integral to nursing.

"I don't view anything that I do, did, or will do as abnormal or extraordinary," he said. "I just view it as what I'm here for.” 

Mike has been caring for COVID patients during some difficult times, and was recognized for showing extraordinary compassion to patients and families. One particular family couldn’t be with their loved one, and Mike held the phone while holding his patient’s hand during his final moments so everyone could say their goodbyes. 

"The level of compassion and respect they gave my dad and us on the other end of the phone was incredible," the patient’s daughter told a local news station. "They made me feel like I was the only patient’s family member." 

Mike became a nurse at the age of 40, inspired to provide the very best of care for his patients due to experiences that his family had during surgeries and treatments for his son’s spina bifida. 

“Our job is simple in the context of going into any setting, meeting any individual who needs your care, and just showing them that you love them,” he said. “I don't care where you're from or anything else...we're going to get through our night together, and I'll keep you as safe as possible."

2021 CTE Winner Andrea Dyer

Andrea Dyer, MSN, RN, CNOR, is a perioperative nurse who travels with American Mobile, and the winner of the Commitment to Excellence Award for Innovation.

Andrea has found perioperative nursing the perfect setting for her innovative and problem-solving approach to nursing. As part of a pediatric surgical team, she enjoys the opportunity to help fix patients’ immediate problems, and has found creative ways to make her patients and their parents feel comfortable throughout the process.

Yet doing her job well is not enough. Andrea is a strong advocate for improving workplace safety, and has helped organize a campaign against surgical smoke. She also speaks out against workplace bullying, teaches educational programs, participates in professional associations and mentors other nurses. She even stepped up to be retrained in order to help care for COVID patients when elective surgeries were cut back during the pandemic.

A nursing colleague who nominated Andrea noted, “Travelers do not do the things she does. It’s remarkable how she makes relationships and gets involved. She goes above and beyond.” is proud to honor these award recipients, as well as all of the hardworking, compassionate travel nurses who give their best to patients every day. Happy Nurses Month!

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