Voncea Brusha, RN
2005 National Winner (RN Category)
RN, Clinic Manager
UF Shands Hospital, Gainesville, FL
“ I mentor students, advocate for community and healthcare initiatives, and participate in research and leadership development. My greatest joy is a positive outcome … when mom and baby go home at the same time, a nurse I mentored graduates, community projects come alive, and more healthcare facilities are being built .”
Voncea Brusha, RN

An advocate for adequate healthcare for all people, Voncea Brusha, RN, fights for her cause on many levels – her hospital, her community, Capitol Hill and even internationally. A charge nurse in the Mother Baby Unit at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida, Brusha serves with a compassionate heart, a will to serve others and a drive to help those who are unable to stand up for themselves. She is a 2005 winner of the prestigious Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award – one of only 14 honorees nationwide – for her undying service to the community and nursing profession.

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.

“Special people like Voncea truly make a difference in the quality of healthcare that is available today. The mothers and babies in her unit – and the caregivers who work with her – are lucky to be touched by her selfless spirit,” said Wendell Mobley, who directs the national award for Cherokee. “She has dedicated her life to putting others first and has inspired others to do the same.”

As a National Winner in the award’s RN category, Brusha receives an all-expense-paid trip to a 2006 U.S. medical conference of her choice, an annual membership to a clinical organization, 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.

Brusha, a resident of Gainesville, attended Santa Fe Community College and Nova Southeastern University. After graduating from nursing school, she acquired a job at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida and has worked there ever since. While Brusha has served in various capacities during her 36 years at the hospital, she settled in at the Mother Baby Unit where she has been a charge nurse for the last 20 years.

“What I enjoy most about my job is that it is intellectually stimulating and challenging every single day,” she explained. “I say this because every day there is a problem and nurse Voncea must solve it! It can be as small a task as finding the correct nipple for a baby to feed, or as difficult as getting a mom home who has no transportation or money. We are able to utilize our teambuilding skills to meet these challenges.”

While she has made great strides at the hospital where she works, it is with the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) that she has had groundbreaking success. After attending three national NBNA conventions by herself where she said she developed friends because she is “a stranger to nobody,” she became energized and felt she had to tell other nurses back in Gainesville about the organization. During her third conference, she met Vivian Filer, who was also from Gainesville, and the two of them became co-founders of the NBNA Gainesville chapter in 1995, which eventually was chartered in 1997. The chapter now has 75 members. While she currently is president of her local chapter, Brusha also serves on the national NBNA membership and finance committees and is co-chair of the public relations committee. Concurrently, she is involved in policy-making activities on Capitol Hill; she attends National Black Nurses Day with the NBNA yearly in February. 

She also finds time to serve on several hospital committees, mentors other nurses and middle school students, conducts teen forums on safe sex and abstinence and organizes community health fairs. In 2002, Brusha participated in the People to People Ambassador Program via the American Nurses Association, during which she visited Beijing, China, for a 10-day conference. During the conference, Brusha explored the differences and similarities between nursing and healthcare in the People’s Republic of China and the United States.

Brusha was nominated for the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award by Charisse Fountain, a social worker who has been her colleague in the Mother Baby Unit for the last 10 years. “Voncea, well known for her professionalism, clinical expertise and inspired leadership, is well respected by her peers and is a nurse who is loved by those in her care,” she said. “Her leadership in national, state, local and community activities evidences Voncea’s unwavering commitment to the health and welfare of all people.”

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 and chooses winners.

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: Charisse Fountain (Social Worker - Mother Baby Unit, UF Shands Hospital, Gainesville, FL)
Voncea Brusha is a registered nurse in the Mother Baby Unit (MBU) at Shands at the University of Florida, in Gainesville. Her strength and dedication to the nursing profession have been demonstrated to patients and co-workers at Shands for more than 30 years. Voncea, well known for her professionalism, clinical expertise and inspired leadership, is respected by her peers and is a nurse who is loved by those in her care.
Ms Brusha routinely receives positive verbal and written feedback acknowledging her clinical skills and compassion in providing responsive services to her patients. For example, last year when answering a call bell, Voncea found an OB patient with a prolapsed cord. Her expert and calm intervention is credited with facilitating a positive outcome for both mother and baby. Voncea also commendably exhibits the essential characteristics of cultural sensitivity, creativity and resourcefulness in meeting special needs or requests of patients. For example, there was an occasion when a Jewish family requested a Bris for their son while the recently delivered mother remained hospitalized. Coordinating with family members, Voncea made all the arrangements for the ceremony and transformed a patient room into an appropriate setting. On another occasion Voncea provided an extra measure of support to a 14-year-old mother whose infant had died. Assisting with preparation of the body for presentation, Voncea remained at bedside with the young mother as she held the deceased infant, offering heartfelt words of comfort.
Ms Brusha collaborates with other healthcare providers to plan, implement, evaluate and advocate for services that address the needs of patients and their families across the continuum of care. Voncea is a former board member of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) and is co-founder and current president of the Greater Gainesville Black Nurses Association, a local NBNA chapter. Voncea’s work within these organizations remains true to the mission, “…to investigate, define and determine the healthcare needs of African-Americans and to implement change and to make available to African-Americans and other minorities healthcare commensurate with that of the larger society.” Her leadership in national, state, local and community activities evidences Voncea’s unwavering commitment to the health and welfare of all people.

Ms Brusha continues an active role with the NBNA serving on the Public Relations, Program, Scholarship and Finance committees. At the state level, Voncea conducted a seminar on hypertension and diabetes at the Health Forum of the 2004 Florida Voters League Conference in Jacksonville, Florida. During screenings for hypertension at the conference, Voncea identified a participant whose blood pressure was severely elevated (200/110) resulting in emergent treatment at an area hospital for the participant who later expressed his gratitude. Additionally during 2004, Ms Brusha organized health fairs at two Gainesville churches; she also served as a presenter.

Florida Nurse Wins Top National Award Gainsville.com - "Nurse at Shands UF Wins healthcare Award"
FNA - Gainsville nurse wins national Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award