Kim Carstens receives Brown Foundation Award for Excellence in Oncology Nursing

Clinical nurse at MD Anderson West Houston honored with $15,000 cash prize 

Kim Carstens, B.S.N., R.N., O.C.N., is the recipient of the 2019 Brown Foundation Award for Excellence in Oncology Nursing at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The award, established by The Brown Foundation Inc. in 1982, is the institution’s highest nursing honor.

Carstens, a clinical nurse in Radiation Oncology at MD Anderson West Houston, was recognized at an award ceremony today where she received a $15,000 cash prize and a commemorative pin and glass plaque. On hand to offer congratulations were Rosanna Morris, R.N., M.B.A., chief operating officer; Carol Porter, D.N.P., senior vice president and chief nursing officer; and Ann Ziker and Ralph Abendshein of The Brown Foundation.

Carstens initially learned about the honor when Porter; Ginny Bowman, executive director, Professional Practice, Strategy and Execution; and several colleagues recently surprised her with the news.

“Kim Carstens is the essence of all that The Brown Foundation Award represents,” said Porter. “We are delighted to congratulate her on receiving this prestigious honor and grateful to The Brown Foundation for providing this opportunity to recognize excellence in our nursing program.”

Over her 21-year career at MD Anderson, Carstens has worked in inpatient and outpatient nursing settings for pediatrics, radiation oncology and neurosurgery. Her colleagues say she provides each of her patients with knowledge and insight that only years of clinical experience can provide, yet her philosophy of compassionate patient care has never changed.

“I’ve had a unique career at MD Anderson, as I’ve been privileged to take care of both the very young and the very old,” said Carstens. “I have to pinch myself sometimes because even in difficult times, I find joy in it all — joy in a smile, joy in holding a hand, joy in listening to someone’s story and joy in showing compassion.”

Finalist Nichole Cruz, a senior research nurse in Leukemia, also received recognition today for delivering exceptional patient care and making significant contributions to MD Anderson’s nursing program. Since arriving at MD Anderson five years ago, Cruz says she finds daily inspiration in the diversity, talents, leadership and commitment of her colleagues and the opportunity to constantly grow and evolve. Her peers describe her as knowledgeable, organized, detail-oriented, compassionate and a true team player.

A selection committee representing MD Anderson clinical faculty, patient care administration and nursing staff reviewed award nominations submitted by candidates’ peers and patients. The committee, chaired by Porter, included Bowman; Thomas Aloia, M.D., chief value and quality officer; Kimberly Duron, senior executive coordinator, Office of the Chief Operating Officer; Anecita Fadol, Ph.D., associate professor of Nursing; Donetta Goodall, community representative; Kai Lang, clinical administrative director, Gynecologic Oncology Center; Frances Macdonald, clinical nurse, Gastrointestinal Center, and 2018 Brown Foundation Award recipient; Sarah Roder, clinical nurse, Gynecologic Oncology Center, and 2017 Brown Foundation Award recipient; Corey Russell, director of Clinical Nursing; and Elizabeth Shpall, M.D., professor of Stem Cell Transplantation.

From left: Carol Porter, senior vice president and chief nursing officer; Kim Carstens, Brown Foundation Award recipient; Ralph Abendshein, The Brown Foundation; and Rosanna Morris, chief operating officer. Credit: Adolfo Chavez III