Mark Denno, RCP, CRTT, RRT
2005 Top National Winner (Student Nurse Category)
Student, RN Program
American River College, Sacramento, CA
“ Nursing requires continuing education, and I am excited at the prospect of lifelong learning. Technology, treatments, medications and surgical procedures are constantly changing. It may be that in my career, I will help to change the way that many people are treated, not just my patient for that day.”
Mark Denno, RCT, CRTT, RRT

Californian Mark Denno had always wanted to be a nurse. As a co-worker and an intensive care unit nurse, Denno’s future wife had admired the respiratory therapist’s communication, treatment and knowledge of patients and admonished him to pursue nursing. Now just months from realizing his long-cherished dream of becoming a nurse, Denno is receiving national recognition from Cherokee Uniforms for researching and establishing a National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA) chapter at his college, his community service and his unwavering commitment to become a nurse.

Denno is a 2005 winner of the prestigious Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award – one of only 14 honorees nationwide. The award is granted annually by Cherokee Uniforms – a leading designer and manufacturer of healthcare apparel – to recognize nurses and other non-physician healthcare professionals who demonstrate exceptional service, sacrifice and innovation and have a positive impact on others’ lives.

“Mark already has demonstrated strong leadership and an impressive work ethic, and we know he has a bright future in his new field,” said Wendell Mobley, who directs the national award for Cherokee. “We hope this award is one of many that he will receive over a long, distinguished career in nursing.” As a Top National Winner in the award’s Student Nurse category, Denno receives an all-expense-paid trip to a 2006 U.S. medical conference of his choice, an annual membership to a clinical organization, a $500 donation in his name to the nonprofit organization of his choice, a wardrobe featuring the best of Cherokee Uniforms and Rockers Footwear worth more than $1,000, a 2005 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award trophy and placement in Cherokee’s 2006 Inspired Comfort Award calendar.

Denno, 40, and a resident of Orangeville, has been a respiratory therapist for 10 years. He works part-time at both Methodist Hospital and Sutter Medical Center, consulting with physicians and nurses to monitor patients’ respiratory conditions. In 2004, he entered nursing school at American River College in Sacramento, where Catholic Healthcare West, the eighth-largest health system in the nation, has sponsored his education. He expects to graduate with an associate’s degree in nursing in 2006.

At his college, Denno established a local chapter of the NSNA, a national mentoring group that puts nursing students in touch with seasoned nurses who can help them prepare for successful careers by developing clinical and leadership skills. He is developing his chapter’s constitution and bylaws, as well as organizing meetings and recruiting student nurse members. He also has attended state and national NSNA conventions, bringing news and information back to his classmates. Denno also has organized food and children’s clothing drives and led a team for the Komen Race for the Cure, helping to raise breast cancer research funds and awareness.

He was nominated for the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award by Jennifer Denno, his wife, who is a registered nurse at Sutter Medical Center. The couple met while working together in the intensive care unit (ICU), married in 2001 and have a two-year-old son. “Mark always took the time to help each patient understand their breathing treatments and resources for when they went home. He got to know each patient and their life history – not just their medical history – so that he really connected with them,” she said. “The caring individual I met as a respiratory therapist is well on his way to becoming a wonderful nurse, as evidenced by his passionate pursuit of his RN.”

That passion for a nursing career was fueled by his experiences as a U.S. Air Force medic during 12 years of active duty and reserves service, including in Operation Desert Storm. After months of intensive EMT instruction in the Air Force, he assisted military medical personnel in performing surgeries and other life-saving procedures. “It was the best on-the-job training a person could have,” Denno said.

Since the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award was established in 2003, more than 3,400 healthcare professionals have been nominated in the Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse, Student Nurse and Non-Physician Healthcare Professional categories. A panel of nursing professionals and Cherokee representatives evaluates nominations.

For every nomination in 2005, Cherokee Uniforms donated $1 to Nurses House, a national fund that provides short-term financial assistance to registered nurses facing serious hardship. Cherokee donated $1,300 to Nurses House in 2005.

Nominated by: Jennifer Denno (RN, Sutter medical Center, Sacramento, CA)  
I would like to nominate my husband, Mark Denno, for the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award. I met Mark as a Respiratory Therapist on the unit I worked on as an ICU nurse. Mark always took the time to help each patient understand their breathing treatments and resources for when they went home. He got to know each patient and their life history-not just their medical history so that he really connected with them. I learned that Mark had always wanted to be a nurse, but he chose a career in respiratory. Since we have been married, Mark completed his pre-requisites and is finishing his first year at nursing school. Despite the rigors of nursing school and maintaining excellent grades and clinical evaluations, Mark started a National Student Nursing Association at his nursing school in 2004 and has a full board of officers. They are starting a strong following that is reaching out to all the class levels and encouraging leadership and participation. He also organized a team to run in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. This leadership and community service that he started in 2004 is creating avenues for other nursing students to become involved in roles that they will be taking on once they reach the workplace. Mark attended the NSNA State and National Conventions and brings his enthusiasm and excitement about nursing back to his classmates. He has also received comments from his clinical instructors on his excellent patient care. The caring individual I met as a Respiratory Therapist is well on his way to becoming a wonderful nurse; as evidenced by his passion on the road to obtaining his RN. I hope you will consider this great nursing student for your Award.