Nurse Linda Ritter Receives Prestigious Award for Excellence


Recently, honored Linda Ritter, RN, as winner of the 2014 California’s Giving Excellence Meaning (GEM) Award in the category of Clinical Nursing, Inpatient.

Ritter, a longtime nurse in the Bass Childhood Cancer Center at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, was noted by the organization for her leadership in improving palliative care education for the entire unit.

“She embodies every aspect of providing excellence in patient care,” said Leslie Griffith, RN, Ritter’s coworker who nominated her for the award. “We are so blessed she decided to become a nurse. The world is a little bit better because of the differences Linda has made.”

In saluting Ritter, said she was inspired to begin her professional journey in palliative care due to results from a survey she created indicated a need for support and education by other nurses on her unit.

To make it all happen, Ritter completed the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) Program, first as an attendee and then as a trainer. That led Ritter to implement a yearly ELNEC program at the hospital, now in its fourth year. The ELNEC program is a national education initiative to improve palliative care by providing undergraduate and graduate nursing faculty, CE providers, staff development educators, specialty nurses in pediatrics, oncology, critical care and geriatrics, and other nurses with palliative care training. This essential information can then be taught to other nursing students and practicing nurses.

“Nurses advocate for their patients, who, in their opinion, have unmet needs and would benefit from some aspect of palliative care, and it is those moments that make our work worthwhile and engender our pride in the organization and the profession,” Ritter told

In addition, Ritter leadership led to the formation of a palliative care committee for the pediatric oncology unit and the pediatric stem cell unit, where she serves in the role of a charge nurse. She and her colleagues created and developed a comfort cart, a holiday giving tree, staff mini-retreats and a palliative care manual for staff. They have applied many other comfort measures for patients including door decals, music, and quilts in order to provide excellence in pediatric palliative and end-of-life care.

Because of the success initiated on the unit, other units in the hospital are interested in following in her footsteps. Ritter has helped raise the bar for providing excellence in pediatric patient care, and as a direct result of her efforts, has improved the delivery of palliative care throughout the hospital.

The award, which Ritter said was “humbling and exhilarating,” was presented June 27 at a gala in Los Angeles. Additionally, Ritter is one of six national finalists in the running for National Nurse of the Year.


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