Sherry Adkins receives Brown Foundation Award for Excellence in Oncology Nursing

Supervisor in Lymphoma/Myeloma Research honored with $15,000 cash prize 

Sherry Adkins is the recipient of the 2020 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 and includes a $15,000 cash prize.

Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson; Rosanna Morris, chief operating officer; Carol Porter, D.N.P., senior vice president and chief nursing officer; and Isabel Stude Lummis of The Brown Foundation joined in congratulating Adkins at a virtual award ceremony today. Also recognized were finalists Ashley L. Martinez, D.N.P., and Angela Yarbrough, D.N.P., each of whom received a $5,000 cash award.

Porter commended Adkins, Martinez and Yarbrough for exemplifying the highest level of professional dedication and commitment and expressed appreciation to the Brown Foundation for supporting “our outstanding nurses for their daily dedication to MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer.”

“You are an inspiration to all of us and a testament to our efforts in Making Cancer History®,” said Porter. “Every day, you pull from your personal experience to enrich the lives of your patients and their loved ones, as well as your colleagues at MD Anderson.”

Adkins, a supervisor of advanced practice providers for Lymphoma/Myeloma Research, joined the institution in 2008. She was part of the research team whose work ultimately led to the first Food and Drug Administration-approved CAR T cell therapy for the treatment of lymphoma. As a cancer survivor, Adkins finds daily inspiration in providing care and compassion to patients and being a part of their cancer journeys.

“Nurses are the heart, mind and soul of MD Anderson,” said Adkins. “Of all the health care providers, nurses spend the most time with the patients. Every day, I am given the opportunity to provide excellent, compassionate care to patients with cancer and to give back what was given to me.”

Finalist Martinez is a supervisor of advanced practice providers in Breast Medical Oncology. She began her MD Anderson career as a clinical nurse in 2012 and has continued to grow professionally, earning a Doctorate of Nursing Practice from The University of Texas Health Cizik School of Nursing in 2019. Several of Martinez’s family members have been touched by cancer, and those experiences inform her daily interactions with patients and their loved ones.

“Nursing is about grabbing the hand of a nurse behind you and the hand in front of you and making sure that we are standing side by side in ensuring our profession is propelled into advances using evidenced-based practices while improving patient outcomes,” said Martinez.

Yarbrough is a family nurse practitioner at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. She was instrumental in helping develop the adolescent and young adult service that opened in June 2018, which offers 15- to 29-year-old patients age-specific care focused on psychosocial support, onco-fertility, genetic predisposition and survivorship. Yarbrough recently served as MD Anderson’s Magnet Champion co-chair, helping MD Anderson in its quest to gain its fifth Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the highest international distinction for nursing excellence.

“The grit and determination that my patients and families possess through such difficult life challenges inspire me to keep the things that really matter in life in perspective both personally and professionally,” said Yarbrough.

This year’s selection committee of MD Anderson clinical faculty, patient care administration and nursing staff included Porter, chair; Joyce Dains, Dr.PH., chair ad interim of Nursing; Clint Koerkenmeier, clinical administrative director of the Head and Neck Center; Corey Russell, director of Clinical Nursing and Nursing Administration; Thomas Aloia, M.D., chief value and quality officer; Carin Hagberg, M.D., chief academic officer; Beth Garcia, vice president of Patient Experience; Uniqua Smith, Ph.D., associate director of Nursing Programs; Kim Duron, senior executive coordinator in the Office of the Chief Operating Officer; Kim Carstens, R.N., O.C.N., clinical nurse of Radiation Oncology at MD Anderson West Houston and 2019 award recipient; and Joyce Neumann, Ph.D., program director of Stem Cell Transplantation and previous award recipient.