University Medical Center New Orleans congratulates two Nightingale Award winners

Nursing Administrator of the Year and Rookie of the Year honored by Louisiana State Nurses Association

NEW ORLEANS, LA – University Medical Center New Orleans congratulates two nurses who were honored on Saturday, March 3, with the prestigious Nightingale Awards from the Louisiana State Nurses Association (LSNA) and the Louisiana Nurses Foundation (LNF).

Joseph Eppling, MN, RN, NEA-BC, who serves as Senior Director of Critical Care Services, received the Nursing Administrator of the Year award, and Tabitha Khidirov, RN, a staff nurse in University Medical Center’s Decision-Making Unit, received the Rookie of the Year award during the LSNA/LNF awards ceremony in Baton Rouge.

“These two individuals are shining examples of the very best care our patients experience daily from University Medical Center’s nursing community and embody the spirit of excellence and professional growth that we stress throughout our organization,” said University Medical Center President & CEO Bill Masterton.

The Nurse Administrator of the Year award recognizes a registered nurse who serves in a key nursing leadership role, administers the business/patient care activities of a health organization, and/or who manages other personnel who have achieved demonstrated excellence during the past year.

As Senior Director of Critical Care Services, Eppling oversee the Trauma Intensive Care Unit, Medical/Surgical Intensive Care Unit, the Emergency Department, Decision- Making Unit, Pastoral Care, Dialysis Unit, and University Medical Center’s new Burn Center.  

He has been instrumental in the development of a nursing professional practice model at University Medical Center, a nursing recognition wall and a nursing self-governance structure, which includes unit-based nursing governance councils. He also serves as chair of University Medical Center’s Peer Review Committee and co-chair of the Leadership ED Throughput Task Force.

“There are multiple examples where Joe has demonstrated excellence in nursing administration through his bold vision, creativity, and perseverance,” said Denise Danna, University Medical Center’s Chief Nursing Officer. “His vision and leadership in improving the work environment of nurses, creating a culture of recognition and an atmosphere that encourages and rewards professional growth and lifelong learning among nurses at UMCNO is commendable.”

Eppling holds a Master of Nursing degree from Louisiana State University, and a Master of Health Sciences Administration degree from the College of St. Francis in Joliet, IL. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Nicolls State University. He is Board Certified as an Advanced Nurse Executive (NEA-BC) and certified as a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN).

The Rookie of the Year award honors a registered nurse who, while practicing for less than two years, exhibits awareness of the practice of nursing and professionalism while delivering nursing care.

Khidirov, who graduated from the Charity Delgado School of Nursing in 2016, began her practice at University Medical Center in January 2017. She quickly distinguished herself for her leadership ability in the new Decision-Making unit and often stepped into the role of charge nurse. She has assisted in the orientation of new nurses and attended University Medical Center’s preceptor class to formally serve as the unit preceptor, a nurse who serves in the dual role of practitioner and educator. She participates in University Medical Center’s Nursing Standards and Practice Committee and frequently assists the department manager for collecting data for the monthly quality report and participates in quality indicatives for the unit. 

“Tabitha has taken the initiative as a new nurse to become involved and to participate in various activities that provides growth for her in nursing practice,” Danna said. “What’s more, she is truly a caring individual who encompasses all the attributes of not only a great nurse, but also a strong leader.”


About University Medical Center New Orleans

Opened in August 2015, University Medical Center New Orleans is the academic medical center of LCMC Health, a Louisiana-based, not-for-profit health system. University Medical Center New Orleans serves as a key partner of LSU Health Science Center New Orleans, Tulane University School of Medicine and other academic institutions. University Medical Center is home to the Rev. Avery C. Alexander Academic Research Hospital, named in honor of the respected Civil Rights and community leader who served in the Louisiana Legislature for more than 20 years.

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