Thank you nurses. National Nurses Week graphic

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Norman Regional Health System is happy to announce the winners of the 2020 Spirit of Nursing Award!

In honor of Nurses Week, healers had the opportunity to nominate a nurse who they thought exemplified #TheNormanWay and goes above and beyond in their daily work. There were 25 nurses nominated in total.

The 25 nominees include Lisa Austin – PCU, Julie Beed – PCU, Raychell Henry-Ricketts – Transition of Care, Nathan Foster – Flex, Tina Bennett – Oncology, Tracy Shipp – Vascular Access, Katie Gilmore – Women’s & Children’s, Lisa Larman – Mother Baby, Pam Denton – Lactation Services, Shannon Umber – Surgery, Shelly Jenkin – Surgery, Kasey Jordan – ICU, Faith Lee – ICU, Mac King – ICU, Becky Miller – ICU, Vicki Johnson - Clinical Education, Melinda Ralls – OP Infusion Center, Jeni Helleland – OP Infusion Center, Jennifer Davis – OP Infusion Center, Alyson Prince – ED, Hollie Baker – ED, Mark Madden – ED, Tara Bolerjack – ED, Brent Lamb – ED, and Mark Weidman – ED.

Out of the 25 nominees, the 12 winners, referred to as the “Dazzling Dozen” are:

  • Lisa Austin

  • Raychell Henry-Ricketts

  • Tina Bennett

  • Tracy Shipp

  •  Katie Gilmore

  • Lisa Larman

  • Pam Denton

  • Jeni Helleland

  • Hollie Baker

  • Brent Lamb

  • Shannon Umber

  • Becky Miller

New this year, along with the Spirit of Nursing winners, there is also a Rising Star Award. Faith Lee was honored with the Rising Star Award. 

Lisa Austin chose to become a nurse so she could follow in her mom’s footsteps.

“I remember watching my mom rock babies through the window in the OB department and thinking how fun it would be to play with babies for a living,” Lisa said. “Although I didn’t choose the same specialty as my mother, I knew nursing was meant for me. I have always loved and wanted to help people. Being a nurse has always been who I am.”

Lisa began her nursing career as an LPN on a med/surg unit. She decided to continue her career and received her RN in 2016. After becoming an RN, she began working at Norman Regional. Lisa chose to practice nursing at NRHS because she said “the nursing opportunities are endless.”

“There are so many areas to learn and grow in as a nurse at NRHS,” Lisa said. “Everyone is so encouraging and willing to help pursue goals and learn.”

While working at NRHS, she started teaching the ASLS class and serves as the adjunct educator for PCU. Lisa is continuing to further her career and is currently three classes away from finishing her BSN.

“I love to teach because seeing that moment in a new nurse’s eyes when they finally discover how to do something is amazing. Many years down the road, I would love to be a nursing educator or instructor,” Lisa said.

“Nursing is a passion for all nurses, we wouldn’t be in the crazy career if it wasn’t.”


Raychell Henry-Ricketts said she knew she wanted to be a nurse and make a difference in people’s lives after working as a certified nurse’s aide in a local nursing home at 16 years of age. While working in the nursing home, she saw the suffering of the elderly, the immense dedication of most people she worked with and the negligence of others.

Raychell has been a RN for 22 years and has worked in various acute care settings such as high risk labor and delivery, ICU, ED, psych and med/surg as the staff nurse on the floor, home health as a RN care case manager, and in primary care as both a nationally-registered health coach and as a RN care manager. She is also a trained sexual assault and domestic violence nurse examiner, motivational interviewer, and mental health first aide responder.

“I have had the privilege to mentor and help grow other nurses along the way – this may be my most cherished achievement,” she said.

After a life-changing event, Raychell saw the opportunity to positively reshape her career by working at Norman Regional.

“I have seen the good that NRHS has done for so many in our community – from the healer’s point of view as well as the patient’s point view. While there were other offers in and outside the metro, my heart is here and I really feel passionately about caring for my community,” Raychell said.

“I am more than honored – I am humbled by this recognition. I deserve this no more than all the other nurses at NRHS. Nursing embodies the selfless attributes of human nature that nurture, empathize with, and heal fellow human beings. There is no greater path.”


Tina Bennett had the dream of being a nurse since she was a little girl. She said she used to ride her tricycle with a first aid kit in the basket and would watch for any other kids who fell or hurt themselves so she could ride her bike over to them and patch them up.

“I have always had a very nurturing personality and I knew I was destined to be a healer,” she said.

Tina has now been a nurse for almost 13 years and has been working at Norman Regional since 2008. She chose to work at NRHS because she said she always heard great things from employees and the community.

“I was blessed to have both of my sons here. I had such great experiences with both of them that I knew this is where I wanted to be,” Tina said. “I have stayed at NRHS because I believe in the values and the mission that NRHS truly lives. I feel very blessed to be a part of the NRHS healer family.”

Tina has a certification in chemotherapy and immunotherapy with the Oncology Nurse Society and serves as a charge nurse on NRHS’s Oncology unit.

“I am grateful every day to work alongside the fantastic team of healers we have here at NRHS,” she said. “I am so proud to be a charge nurse and to help my team when needed. Our oncology patients are so humble despite what they are going through. With a career in oncology, you find a reason every single day to be grateful for the life that you have – I, for one, am genuinely grateful.”

Tina is a single mom who has two sons and loves to cook.


Tracy Shipp said she became a nurse because as far back as she can remember, she has felt a responsibility to help others. In grade school, she assisted children who suffered from a variety of disabilities.

“Many of my play dates were different. I spent my adolescent and young adult years caring for children, which led to my first job as a full time nanny. I never lost that fire inside to care for others – young or old, able or unable. I’ve always had the spirit to care and nursing has provided me the skill to heal,” Tracy said.

After seven years of working within the field of cosmetic surgery, Tracy said she realized she wanted to care for the sick and the uncertain because she wanted to be a comforting face and a reassuring voice. Born and raised in Norman, she wanted to return home and work at NRHS so she could help her community.

“Nursing is not a job – it’s personal to me. I am passionate about healing and compassionate about people. I am fueled by the joy I experience from comforting others during a vulnerable life experience,” Tracy said. “I value the concept of team and I believe it takes a team to achieve great things. I wouldn’t be the provider I am today without the teams in my life.”

“One of the positives I believe has surfaced from this pandemic is the public has a better understanding of what nurses do. I am proud to be a nurse – recognized or not.”


Katie Gilmore chose to become a nurse after having the opportunity in high school to shadow different professionals, including a nurse.

“I knew right away that was the profession for me,” she said. “I love getting the opportunity to help people feel better and stronger. It is such an honor to be able to be a part of some of the best days of people’s lives, as well as some of the hardest.”

Katie began working as a nurse in 2007 on Women’s and Children’s. She worked there for three years before taking a few years off while she and her husband grew their family with four children. She worked a short while in a pediatric ED before coming back “home” to Women’s and Children’s in 2016. She said she has enjoyed being a part of the pediatric MIT committee, as well as the pediatric asthma committee. She plans on obtaining her pediatric certification this year.

“I love being able to take care of a 3 day old, an 83 year old, and every age in between each shift,” she said. “Even though I truly enjoy all the patients that come to our floor, I would have to say my passion is for pediatrics. I have really enjoyed taking care of our higher acuity pediatric patients now that we can utilize high flow oxygen on the floor. It is rewarding to admit a very sick kid and see them improve over the next several days and get to go home happy and healthy because of the interventions and care we provided as a team.”

During nursing school, Katie got to work as a CNA at Norman Regional and said she enjoyed the teamwork of the employees and everyone she worked with so she knew it was where she wanted to stay.

“The group of nurses that I get to work with every day truly feel like a family to me,” Katie said.


Lisa Larman said as a young girl she wanted to become a nurse like her grandmother because she loved listening to her stories about her patients. She admired how deeply she cared for people and knew that was what she wanted in her life.  

Lisa has been a nurse for 28 years. She started at NRH in 1991 as a unit assistant on the postpartum floor because her neighbor was the manager of it.

“I have always loved working at Norman Regional. They are like family and have treated me well all these years,” she said.

Lisa has always had a passion for teaching and helping new families.

“Being with these families, watching them welcome a new member to their family and learning to care for the baby and each other has truly been a blessing to me through the years,” Lisa said.

Lisa has been married to her high school sweetheart for 40 years. They have two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and three granddaughters. She said she loves living in the country and being outside in her garden.


Pam Denton grew up around medicine because her dad was a family physician. She said she decided she wanted to be a nurse because she liked being bedside with patients more than being a doctor would allow. She loves getting to know patients and their families.

Pam has been a nurse for 22 years and has worked at NRHS for almost 18 years. She said the thing that impressed her when she interviewed at NRHS was the friendliness and feeling of family.

“Everyone greeted each other and stopped to show visitors their way. I knew this was the place for me,” she said. “I love NRHS because after 18 years, we are still family – always greeting one another, supporting each other, and going out of our way to help a lost visitor.”

Pam is a RN and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She started her career as a med/surg nurse then briefly worked as an internal medicine office nurse. When she first came to NRHS, she worked in the ICU until she fell in love with breastfeeding and was fortunate to land a job in lactation.

“My passion is caring for patients as if they were my family and advocating for their needs. I love being a nurse because there are so many paths you can take,” Pam said.

Pam has been married for 21 years and has three sons and two Labrador Retrievers.


Jeni Helleland said as long as she can remember, she has wanted to pursue a profession in a medical field. She knew nursing could open so many doors and would provide an array of options for patient care. At first she wasn’t sure what specialization would be right for her, once she started in oncology, she realized how challenged, yet rewarding it could be.

Jeni has been a nurse for almost 10 years. She and her husband moved to Norman from Ada, Oklahoma to attend OU. While majoring in Health and Exercise Science, she realized nursing was her true calling and completed the accelerated BSN program at OUHSC. After a crazy 14 months of class while planning her wedding, she started her nursing career at Norman Regional. Jeni said she stayed at NRHS because Norman feels like home and she loves being able to help others from this community.

After working in inpatient oncology for her first four years, Jeni has spent the late six years in outpatient infusion and chemo infusion. She has a current ONS/ONCC Chemotherapy Immunotherapy certification.

“My passion is helping patients through some of their most difficult and uncertain situations,” Jeni said.

Outside of work, Jeni said you’ll most likely find her lounging by the pool, hanging out with her husband, playing with her puppy, or counting down to their next trip or football season.


Hollie Baker has been interested in nursing since she was young. At the age of 5, she said she loved watching surgeries and her favorite TV show was “Rescue 911.” In fifth grade, she got to dissect a bovine heart in science and was hooked.

Born and raised in Norman, Hollie graduated from Norman North High School before graduating from OU.

“There was no question where I wanted to begin my nursing career – I’ve been with NRHS since 2008,” she said.

Hollie works as a RN in the HealthPlex ED.

“The ER is my passion,” she said. “I struggled hard as a new grad nurse in the ER, but I received so much support from my preceptors, management and other staff. Their patience and grace allowed me to be the nurse I am today.”

Hollie and her husband will celebrate their third anniversary in June and she has a 10-year-old stepdaughter.


Brent Lamb said there were many factors that influenced his decision to become a nurse.

“I was already working in the medical field as a paramedic but I saw the opportunities available to nurses, diversity in where I could work, working in a fast-paced environment, and the flexibility to work anywhere I wanted geographically. Ultimately, the main reason I went into nursing was the same reason I became a paramedic, I wanted to help people in their time of need,” Brent said.

Brent started his career at Norman Regional as a paramedic with EMSSTAT in 2007. He’s now been working as a RN in Norman Regional Hospital’s ED for the past 10 years.

“The reason I love working in Norman Regional specifically the emergency department is the teamwork and how well we all work together. Working in the ED can often be challenging and present many difficult situations. We always work together to adapt and overcome to be able to take care of our patients and get the job done,” Brent said. “Plus, I get to serve the community in which I live and that is very important to me.”

Brent is currently completing his MSN in the FNP program at Graceland University.

Aside from nursing, Brent said what he enjoys most is spending time with his wife, two sons, and their chocolate lab. They enjoy going to ballgames and taking trips and finding new adventures to go on. Lately they have enjoyed the little things, such as going on walks, riding bikes through the neighborhood, gardening, reading and online learning.


Shannon Umber said she decided to become a nurse because she likes to help people, the profession is well respected, and she likes being involved in the community.

Shannon has worked at Norman Regional since 1995 and has spent 21 of those years working in surgery. She previously worked in the Family Birth Center at Norman Regional Hospital.

Shannon said the first time she walked through Norman Regional’s doors, she knew she was at the right place.

“I have worked in other hospitals and they didn’t compare to NRHS. The atmosphere and sense of community is unique to NRHS,” she said. “I’m very honored to be nominated for this award. This hospital serves a great community. I’m fortunate to be a part of this exemplary team and I’m excited to see the future for NRHS.”

Shannon is married with a daughter and does photography as a hobby.


Becky Miller decided to be a nurse at 17 years old. She said she was positive she wanted to work in a health science setting and she learned more about the flexibility, work environment, and possibilities within the career path of nursing, she was certain.

Becky has a BSN from OU. She has been a nurse for nine years, eight of which in the ICU.

She said she chose NRHS because during her interview, she had a great feeling and an immediate sense of belonging.

“After being a new nurse, I found my second family here and have always been treated as such,” she said.

Becky is a mother of two boys.


Congratulations to all of our winners and nominees! We’re thankful for each and every one of you and we encourage you to always #CelebrateNursing!