Teri Voss, a Neuro-Intensive Care Nurse from Rockford, Ill., has been named the 2010 Dickies American Worker of the Year. The award recognizes committed, hardworking people who take pride in what they do and lead by example. Voss is the first nurse to win the award in its 18-year history.
Voss was nominated by her 24-year-old son, who described his mother’s devotion to nursing in a moving essay:
“You see, my mom does not take care of one patient, she takes care of many. The family is also her ‘patient.’ She welcomes them into the strange land of the ICU. She expertly and calmly explains all the lights, beeps, wires, tubing and machines… She is able to interpret the strange medical language into one that the family is able to understand… She assures them it is okay to touch him and talk to him.”
Voss, who has spent her life working the night shift, also volunteers her services in the community during the day. She conducts hearing and vision exams at local schools, takes blood pressure readings after Sunday service and tutors young nursing students. As a nominee for the award, Voss stated to the panel of judges that her most important “tool” to do her job, the one tool she uses day in and day out, is her heart.
That won over the hearts of the judges. “Theresa Voss exemplifies selflessness in every aspect of her life,” said Tad Uchtman, a Senior VP at Dickies (the award sponsor). “Her dedication and love for nursing are to be commended, particularly given the physical, mental and emotional fortitude required of such a demanding and overlooked job.”
The award, presented by Sears and Kmart, will honor Voss with $100,000 as part of her prize.