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Awards and Recognition

Hollie Shaner-McRae Nursing Student Essay Contest

Charlotte Brody Award

Hollie Shaner-McRae Nursing Student Essay Contest

Health Care Without Harm, in conjunction with The Luminary Project once again is sponsoring the Hollie Shaner-McRae Nursing Student Essay Contest.  The essay contest recognizes the environmental work of Hollie Shaner-McRae, DNP, RN, FAAN, Supervisor of Clinical Documentation Integrity Services at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, VT.

Nurses play a key role in the environmental health movement through their participation in the Health Care Without Harm campaign, professional associations, places of work and in their communities. They work on the front lines in emergency rooms responding to climate-related health crises, and testify in congress for environmental health policies that protect the public.

The essay challenge: In the Hollie Shaner-McRae Nursing Student essay contest, entrants are asked to discuss specific activities that a nurse or nursing student could potentially do or is currently involved in doing to facilitate changes that benefit human health through improving the environment. For example, the essay could discuss how nurses can work to promote their healthcare facility’s involvement in environmental initiatives that address sustainble options in food procurement, waste management, or energy usage, to name a few. Another example might be a discussion of the nurses’ role as an environmental advocate for populations that are particularly vulnerable to environmental pollutants, such as the very old, the very young, or the immune-compromised.

The essay must be original, not published elsewhere, and not written as part of any paid employment. It could be a requirement in the course of nursing education. The essay should be 1000-1500 words, double-spaced, and all citations written in APA format. The entries will be judged on quality of writing, creativity, originality, and by how clearly they address the topic above.

Eligibility: This contest is open to all undergraduate nursing students presently enrolled and in good standing in a beginning nursing program in the United States and Canada.

Essay winners: The essays will be judged by The Guiding Lights, the advisory group of The Luminary Project. Winners will be announced in April 2014. There will be a first prize winner, and two honorable mentions. All winning essays will be posted on The Luminary Project website and their authors will be given full credit. The first prize will be awarded at the annual CleanMed Conference, to be held in Cleveland, OH, from June 2-5, 2014. The first prize nursing student essayist will receive free CleanMed registration and a subsidy for travel to receive the award.

How to enter: The application process for 2014 is now closed.

Past winners include:

2013 Essay Contest

First Place:
Nicole Makris

Honorable Mention:
Ryan Tateishi - The Greening of Health Care
Angela Wan - Nurses for Environmental Sustainability in Health Care

2012 Essay Contest

First Place:
Morgan Lincoln - Change is Possible: A Reflection on Environmental Health Advocacy in Nursing

2010 Essay Contest

First Place: 
Erin M. Johnson - Voices of Students

Honorable Mention:
Jeannette Verleun - Nursing Student’s Role in the Greening of Health Care
Janine Connell - How Nursing Students Can Advocate and Educate Healthcare Personnel About Environmentally Sound Contact Precaution Practices

2009 Essay Contest

First Place:
Christine Ruppe -The Luminary Project

Honorable Mention:

Regina Allen - Nurses and Their Role in Advocating for Healthier Food in Low Income Neighborhoods
Ryan Thebo - The Nurse's Role as an Environmental Activist

2007 Essay Contest

First place:
Naomi Higenbottam - Nurse’s Role as an Environmental Activist

Honorable Mention:
Katie Kelsch - Coastal Communities: The Ties Between our Health and the Environment
Terris Rolon - Environmental Health Advocacy in the Home: Screening for Lead-Based Paint Toys
Michele Toomey - Pharmacologic Management of Congestive Heart Failure


An award for brilliantly lighting the way to a healthier environment and inspiring other nurses to do the same

The Charlotte Brody Award was created in honor of a lifelong advocate for social change. Charlotte Brody, a registered nurse and activist, has spent her life making the world a safer place for people around the globe. She is one of the founders of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), an international coalition working to make health care more environmentally responsible and sustainable. HCWH has launched campaigns to rid hospitals of mercury thermometers and toxics-leaching IV bags and encouraged hospitals to buy ecologically sound medical supplies, cleaners, building materials and organic food.

Charlotte Brody’s years of organizing experience and public health background converged in her groundbreaking work within health care to reduce the sector’s reliance on hazardous materials and practices, and there’s little doubt that she is making a difference as she works to lighten our collective body burden of toxic chemicals. For her, it's about reaching ever further to make a difference, visioning the possible and strategically leveraging opportunities to create lasting change. As Charlotte Brody puts it, "I just want to be part of a global community that keeps learning how to keep making bigger, smarter transformational change."

The Luminary Project, an initiative of Health Care Without Harm, was launched in 2005 to shine the light on nurses who are working to improve our health and the environment. This web-based initiative was born of Charlotte Brody’s desire to tell the stories of nurses, who are creatively, strategically, and courageously addressing environmental problems and illuminating the way toward safe hospitals, communities with clean air, land and water, and children born without toxic chemicals in their bodies. Created in 2006, the Charlotte Brody Award honors the leadership, commitment, and vision of nurses who are creating a healthier world and inspiring others to do the same. Previous awardees include:

Award Presentation

The Luminary Project seeks to honor, increase awareness about, and stimulate activity around nurses’ efforts to light the way to a healthier environment. The Charlotte Brody Award recognizes the outstanding commitment and achievements of a Nurse Luminary who has shared his or her story with The Luminary Project so that other nurses might be inspired to further accomplishments.

The beautiful award made of recycled glass is presented each year at the CleanMed conference. The 2014 Charlotte Brody Award will be presented at CleanMed 2014 to be held in Cleveland, OH, June 2-5, 2014.


This award will be given to a Nurse Luminary (RN or LPN/LVN) whose story of environmental activism and accomplishment reflects a significant contribution to environmental health. Nominees will exemplify the characteristics and principles for which Charlotte Brody stands. These should include some of the following characteristics:

    • Demonstration of a commitment to change on behalf of people, their health, and the environment.

    • Active incorporation of environmental health principles in professional practice, including when possible direct patient care, education, research, and advocacy.

    • Demonstration of leadership in improving environmental health practices and policies in the workplace, communities, professional associations, government agencies, academic institutions, or other domains where people’s health is affected by environmental conditions.

    • Engagement in research endeavors that build knowledge, bridge the gap between health and the environment, and/or facilitate the application of findings in direct nursing care and health care.

    • Conduction of public education that raises awareness, informs and engages people in efforts to reduce environmental hazards and exposures, and promotes healthy environmental decision-making.

    • Development of nursing education programs that actively integrate environmental health knowledge and skills into undergraduate and graduate level nursing curricula and/or continuing education courses.

    • Work toward effective environmental health change in nursing practice through direct care with patients and/or through population-focused care.

    • Contribution to the development of public policy that protects environmental health.

    • Facilitation of changes in organizational policies that protect and promote environmental health.

    • Increasing the visibility of nurses and their important and effective role in environmental health improvement.

    • Authoring of articles or publications that communicate environmental health matters to the public, nurses and other health care professionals, as well as disciplines and sectors related to environmental health.


This award seeks to recognize Nurse Luminaries who go beyond everyday nursing endeavors to proactively promote and protect environmental health, and who generate significant outcomes from their efforts. Potential awardees may be nominated by a colleague or member of the public, or may be self-nominated.

Nomination procedures include the following:

1. Completion of the official nomination form.

2. At least two letters of recommendation, with one of these letters written by a registered professional nurse.

3. Submission of the nomination form and letters of recommendation by: Application process for 2014 is now closed.

Selection of Award Recipient

The steering committee of The Luminary Project, known as Guiding Lights, will review applications and select the award recipient based on the stated criteria. This decision will be based on the information included in the completed nomination form and supporting documents. Therefore, it is helpful to include as much information about the candidate and his/her achievements as possible.

The award recipient will be notified in April 2014 and presented with the Charlotte Brody Award at the CleanMed 2014 Conference.  The awardee will receive a complimentary CleanMed registration.


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