(KWWL) -- Like the name of the event says, one hundred nurses from the Hawkeye State were honored Sunday for their dedication to their patients.
This year's keynote speaker was also the year's Lifetime Achievement Award Winner. Mary Hagen retired last year from her position as chief nursing executive at UnityPoint Health – Waterloo.
Hagen worked for 43 years in the nursing field, holding a number of positions with UnityPoint and spearheading a variety of initiatives focused around maternal health.
"Nursing has been a wonderful career," Hagen said. "It's been very, very rewarding. I would encourage many new, young men and women to explore the field of nursing because there are a lot of opportunities."
Hagen, who also served as an educator during her career, advocated for anyone with a caring nature and interest in science to consider pursuing a career in nursing. She says there is a shortage of nurses currently, but, that over the past year, nurses have been heroes during the pandemic.
"It was the nurse there at the bedside to communicate between the patient and the family. It was the nurse that held that patients hand when they were afraid. It was the nurse who held the patients' hand when they passed away. So, it was tough for nursing," Hagen said.
Serving as an administrator at the time, Hagen says she is still moved when thinking about the "honor walks" that occurred when a patient beat COVID and was able to leave the hospital.
"I hope they realized how blessed they are to be called to this profession."Mary Hagen on this year's honorees
The nonprofit says this year's honorees were selected based on "their concern for humanity, their contribution to the community and to the nursing profession, their leadership and mentoring."
Nominations were able to be submitted by colleagues, patients, doctors, friends, and family members. A panel of reviewers that consisted of nursing professionals and previous honorees narrowed the nominees down to the final 100.
Nichole McKenzie, a registered nurse at Waverly Health Center's birthing center, was one of those honored by 100 Great Nurses.
"It just really reminds you or reminds me I am exactly where I should be in my career, and doing what my heart really loves doing and I have a passion for. It is nice to hear that from other people too." McKenzie said.
McKenzie also teaches at North Iowa Community College and facilitates labs and clinicals for nursing students who are taking maternal child classes. McKenzie shares what she believes are the building blocks to being a great nurse:
"Just really having to go the extra mile in all aspects of being it; wanting to bettering yourself for yourself, better yourself for your patients, have a better understanding of why we do things. There's a lot of opportunity for nurses to try to take that extra step and it's just if you're willing to do that. You got to have that kind of heart, and the drive to want to be above and beyond, and I feel like that's what makes those nurses special," McKenzie said.
Nichole is very dedicated to our department. She works all her shifts as well as picks up extra shifts on very short notice when we have sick calls or when we just need extra hands to help out during difficult situations and busy times. Nichole has a great passion for labor and delivery and has recently helped staff with new techniques to help families deliver successfully according to their birth plans.Written by McKenzie's nominator
The event is sponsored by the University of Iowa College of Nursing, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, MercyOne, and Mary Greeley Medical Center.
You can view a list of the 100 honorees HERE.