Pediatric Oncology Nurse Rich Ramos Wins Prestigious Magnet Nurse of the Year Award

Rich Ramos, pediatric oncology nurse at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, wins prestigious Magnet nurse of the year award
Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford nurse Rich Ramos wins the Nurse of the Year Award in Palo Alto, California, Friday, May 14, 2021. Photo by Paul Sakuma Photography

Nurse leaders at Stanford Children’s Health had a big secret that was hard to keep: exciting news about one of their longtime nurses.

Rich Ramos, RN, MS, CNS, PNP, CPON, a bedside nurse who works nights on pediatric oncology, won an outstanding honor that only five nurses across the entire nation receive annually—the Magnet Nurse of the Year Award from the Magnet Recognition Program of the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

“It was incredibly hard to keep it a secret! We needed to wait until we could have a joint call with the ANCC and Rich,” says Sarah Ferrari, DNP, CNS, LBBP, SSCC, DFSSC, CPHON, who helped instigate the nomination with Kristine Taylor, DNP, MPH, RN, CENP, both nursing directors in the Center of Professional Excellence & Inquiry.

“We received Magnet recognition in 2019. This was our first Nurse of the Year application, and we won!” Taylor says.

Ferrari and Taylor tricked Ramos into joining a virtual meeting that was supposedly about the benefits of hiring nurses from the military—something he knew about firsthand, having spent nearly four years as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army.

“No one was more surprised than I was. It took me a few minutes to realize what was happening on the call. When someone mentioned Magnet, I got a little dizzy,” says Ramos. “There are many nurses at Stanford Children’s who are deserving of this award—seriously, I can think of several on my unit alone. That said, there aren’t enough words to express the gratitude I feel for this recognition.”

Rich Ramos of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford is honored for winning the Magnet Year of the Nurse award

Getting the award boosted his morale after a hard year with COVID-19, having lost loved ones to the virus. Also, his trips around the world to train nurses in core skills in pediatric oncology came to a halt. Ramos normally takes three to four international trips a year as an instructor for the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON), and he can’t wait to start up again. He has served in Guatemala, Argentina, Paraguay, India, Ethiopia, and more.

“Many countries have a fraction of the resources that we have, and they’re doing much more with them,” he says. “And you become a better nurse when you train others because you are constantly reminded of best practices. It’s a constant exercise in humility.”

Besides going abroad with APHON, Ramos volunteers stateside. He co-leads a national certification course on chemotherapy, taught in Spanish. For his efforts, he earned APHON’s instructor of the year award.

“Rich’s job does not begin and end here. He is very passionate. He is all about evidence-based practice and delivering better care,” says Kimberly Williams, director of the Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders. “If I could clone him 10 times over, I would.”

The ANCC Magnet program recognizes health care organizations for quality patient care, nursing excellence, and innovations in professional nursing practice. The Magnet Model has five pillars of achievement. Ramos won for the category of Structural Empowerment.

“To me, structural empowerment is about how an institution provides a framework that allows the staff to grow within and beyond their job,” he says. “Stanford Children’s does this for me.”

Sharing experience and resources beyond the hospital walls is commonplace at Stanford Children’s Health. And Ramos’s volunteer efforts are diverse and far-reaching.

“Structural empowerment focuses on outreach and professional development, which Rich has done phenomenally, both in our community and internationally,” Taylor says.

Besides his international and national work with APHON, Ramos co-leads a monthly community support group for Latino families of children with cancer—the only one in San Jose. He and Jenn Romero, RN, MSN, PHN, CNS, another nurse at the hospital, answer parents’ clinical questions and offer support.

“I am so proud of the caliber of nurses we have at Stanford Children’s. Many reach beyond the Stanford footprint to improve community health,” Taylor adds.

Closer to home, Ramos serves on several committees at the hospital. He is a workhorse who not only provides leadership but also puts in the time to reach set goals.

“Rich is very engaged and highly respected by everyone. The providers gravitate toward him to partner on special projects,” Williams says. “He has helped develop a lot of our clinical practice in pediatric cancer through the years.”

Ramos earned his master’s degree in nursing while working at Stanford Children’s Health, and he has been on staff for 27 years. Time and again, he’s been offered promotions to nurse leadership positions, but he has always declined, wanting to stay at the bedside to work directly with patients and families.  

“For me, being a bedside nurse is more meaningful work. I love when I walk into a room at night and I feel that hush. It feels sacred,” Ramos says. “I feel so lucky to be entrusted to care for kids with cancer and their families.”

Ramos attended a virtual Magnet award ceremony this spring, and he was invited to the fall 2021 Magnet conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Everyone at the hospital has their fingers crossed that it happens, despite COVID-19, so that he can be properly celebrated with a walk across the stage.

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