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Clinical Professor Honored With Nurse Of The Year Award

For The Heights

Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013

Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 00:01

Clinical Professor Honored With Nurse Of The Year Award

Emily Stansky // For The Heights

The Massachusetts March of Dimes Chapter honored Holly Fontenot, a clinical assistant professor at Boston College’s Connell School of Nursing, with its Nurse of the Year Award earlier this month.

At its second annual awards ceremony, held Dec. 3, 2012 in Natick, Mass., Fontenot became one of only nine winners, out of 25 finalists, to be recognized, receiving the award for Nursing Administration and Research.

“I didn’t even know that I was nominated,” Fontenot said. “It turned out that a colleague of mine from UMass Lowell had nominated me.”
Founded in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to combat rising polio rates, the March of Dimes has since shifted its mission to concentrate on infant mortality and birth defects. According to a March of Dimes representative on the organization’s website, “Nurses are an integral part of the March of Dimes mission for stronger, healthier babies. Nurse of the Year is a statewide event that recognizes exceptional nurses, creates awareness of professional excellence and promotes the future of the nursing profession, while helping to advance the mission of the March of Dimes.

“The award recipients were selected from 25 finalists across the state, all of whom represent the March of Dimes vision for a healthier, stronger generation of babies and families.”
The March of Dimes board recognized Fontenot for her varied contributions to women’s health over the course of her 15-year nursing career. In addition to her full-time teaching position at BC, where she coordinates the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Program and boasts a perfect boards passing rate, Fontenot volunteers as the women’s health nurse practitioner at a nearby community health center and has published seven research and 17 clinical articles in the past five years.

Nonetheless, for Fontenot, winning Nurse of the Year proved as surprising as the nomination. “It was such an honor just to be nominated,” she said. “I went to the dinner with no expectations. There are so many fantastic nurses in Massachusetts.”
She acknowledged the personal honor that comes with winning such an award. “It’s always nice to be recognized for hard work,” she said. “It makes you feel good, that you’re making a difference.” Still, Fontenot views the accolade as a collective one, noting professor Katherine Gregory’s win last year.

“This is the second year in a row that someone from BC received this award, which is really exciting for our school,” Fontenot said. “I think it highlights that we have a lot of really great faculty here who are thinking about how to care for women and children and really make a difference in their health, and it highlights that BC is a leader in nursing education.”
Furthermore, she hopes that her success will lead to greater visibility in the field of women’s health. “As a women’s health nurse, I see women’s health as the cornerstone to better national health,” she said. “If women have better health outcomes, in the end, everyone will have better health outcomes. I see women as leaders for health in this country.”

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