2006 Inspired Comfort Award Top National Winner — Advanced Practice Nurse Category

Jacki Witt

Linda Lopez-Ochart Summers, DSN, CNS, CFNP

2006 Top National Winner— Advanced Practice Nurse Category

New Mexico Nurse Does Whatever it Takes
to Provide Teens With Care

Nearly 18 years ago, Dr. Linda Lopez-Ochart Summers, DSN,CNS, CFNP opened Dona Ana County's first free clinic specifically geared toward adolescents. Through her work, students in various school districts throughout the county, who are often uninsured or do not receive medical care on a regular basis, now receive integrated mental health and primary care at no cost. For her dedication to these adolescents, she has received the prestigious Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award. Linda is one of only 11 honorees nationwide in 2006.

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.

"Linda does not believe a bad teenager exists, only bad circumstances that can escalate out of their control," said Elizabeth Kuchler, the nurse who nominated Linda, her clinical mentor, for the award. "Her passion and devotion to these children is an inspiration to everyone who comes in contact with her."

Although nursing has made some tremendous progress we remain silent on so many health issues that we really know a lot about. With the push for community research, the opportunity exists for bedside and community nurses to continue to provide patient care and to remain or become active in research... and to make permanent changes in an organization.

— Linda Lopez-Ochart Summers

Kuchler praised Linda's dedication to doing whatever it takes to care for these often complicated and multifaceted patients. From applying for grants and state money to expand the reach of her clinic, to negotiating for supplies, equipment and services, Linda is committed to the health and welfare of local adolescents, as well as those from surrounding communities. In addition to this everyday care, Linda uses her expertise to educate others on the needs of adolescents through published articles as well as presentations on the local, state and national levels.

Linda serves on the faculty for the residency program at Memorial Medical Center, in Las Cruces, N.M. She also is a mentor and clinical instructor for advanced nursing students, as well as for master's and doctoral counseling students and practicing psychologists. In addition to her adolescent programs and her teaching responsibilities, Linda has an active behavioral therapy practice.

As a Top National Winner in the award's Advanced Practice Nurse Category, Linda receives an all-expense-paid trip to a 2007 U.S. medical conference of her choice, an annual membership to a clinical organization, a $500 donation to the nonprofit organization of her choice, a wardrobe featuring the best of Cherokee Uniforms and Rockers Footwear worth more than $1,000, a 2006 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award trophy and placement in Cherokee's 2007 Inspired Comfort Award calendar.

Since the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award was established in 2003, more than 4,200 healthcare professionals have been nominated in the Registered Nurse, Advanced Practice 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 grants the awards.

For every nomination, Cherokee Uniforms donated $1 to Nurses House, a national fund that provides short-term financial assistance to registered nurses facing serious hardship. Since 2005, Cherokee has donated $2,200. Proceeds from Cherokee Uniforms products support healthcare professionals through initiatives such as the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award, an annual calendar and the A Nurse I Am Film and Scholarship Program. Cherokee Uniforms will be accepting nominations for the 2007 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award beginning March 1, 2007 through May 31, 2007.

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