Nurse and Mental Health Specialist Receive Top Honors at McLean’s Fall 2022 Nursing Conference

May 17, 2023

Laura Conboy, RN, and Sarah Perlo were honored at the Fall 2022 Nursing Conference with two of the department’s most prestigious awards.

Margaret C. Tibbetts Award

Conboy, who is the night charge nurse at the Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Inpatient Program, received the Margaret C. Tibbetts Award, which recognizes a nurse who exemplifies leadership in nursing, including advocacy in the advancement of nursing practice, teaching, and research.

Acknowledging that the night shift can be challenging because of higher patient acuity and fewer staff, nominator Jeanne McElhinney, MS, RN, BC, spoke about Conboy’s brand of leadership.

“Laura is a role model for mental health specialists and nurses from both our unit and the nursing resource team. She’s always willing to orient new nurses to the night shift and supports mental health specialists (MHS) with their education and career goals,” she said.

In the nomination form, McElhinney and co-nominator Nicole Visaggio, RN, described Laura as creative, calm, skillful, and meticulous. “Laura reviews the patients’ medications and history, often picking up on concerns that should be followed up on. Many of these things would be missed if she was not so diligent in her work.”

During the height of COVID, when mental health specialists were concerned about providing care to patients in isolation, “Laura worked with the night MHSs, supporting and educating them about the risks involved,” they wrote.

After receiving the award, Conboy said she was very honored: “A special thank you to the unit and specifically you, Jeanne and Nicole,” said Conboy. “I can’t imagine being the nurse I am today having worked anywhere else or with anybody else.”

The award is named after the longtime director of the nursing school and Department of Nursing at McLean.

People in a row clapping

Congratulations to this year’s award winners!

Julia Altschule Award

Sarah Perlo, a mental health specialist with the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Service and the Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Service, was honored with the Julia Altschule Award, which recognizes a mental health specialist, staff nurse, or community residence counselor who exemplifies the highest level of humane care for patients.

Nominator Teresa Henderson, BSN, RN, read from the nomination narrative she prepared for the award.

“Sarah is intelligent, bright, and competent and embraces the challenges that come with TMS treatment with an excellent attitude, always incorporating patient-centered care into the hectic nature of a busy clinic. Her kindness is remarkable: patients often remark upon her gentle nature and willingness to listen, express empathy, and provide support and encouragement,” Henderson wrote.

She lauded Perlo’s superb technical skills, technological proficiency, scientific expertise, and attention to detail. “It is this dedication that makes her a leader among her peers and a resource person for the whole department.”

Henderson went on to describe Perlo’s down-to-earth nature, giving the example that she often arrives to work on her bicycle with “her helmet on her head and a smile on her face.”

Perlo said credit for her accomplishments should go to the “exceptional examples set by my colleagues in the neurotherapeutics department. I have learned how to quickly form therapeutic alliances with my patients and strengthen these connections. Acknowledging the patient perspective has allowed me to provide compassionate care and seek patient feedback to optimize their treatment experience.”

The award was established in 1980 by Mark D. Altschule, MD, in memory of his wife. Mark Altschule was a consulting internist at McLean Hospital, as well as director of Internal Medicine and Research in Clinical Physiology at McLean from 1947 to 1967.

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