Innovation and Excellence in Nursing Practice: Terri Olinger

Terri Olinger's job description could be distributed among a dozen employees. As Public Health Nurse at HOMEWARD, Olinger, R.N., B.S.N., coordinates a multitude of public health services--from walk-in clinics and immunization clinics to disease surveillance and disaster preparedness. But the Innovation and Excellence Award in Nursing Practice winner isn't daunted by variety. "I really like every aspect of the job," she says. "Public health is a very dynamic area of health care. It changes as the population changes."

Olinger's enthusiasm is motivated in part by the opportunities she sees. "I see so much that I want to do," Olinger says. "We have come so far in our emergency preparedness planning, but you see so many things that can improve. We have systems in place that we're testing and refining when there are opportunities to do so."

This past winter Olinger was met with a new challenge as she tackled the H1N1 influenza virus head-on. She was responsible for coordinating clinics throughout Story County for mass administration of the H1N1 vaccine. "Without hesitation, Terri dedicated much of her waking hours to ensuring that the public would receive the H1N1 vaccine," says Eileen Mullan, director of HOMEWARD Public Health.

H1N1 is exactly the kind of challenge Olinger is up to facing. "Seeing the progression from having no disaster preparedness plan six years ago to putting our plan into action-that was very rewarding."

Olinger attributes her success to enjoying what she does and being invested in the outcome. "I want to make a difference in the community," she says. "I want to do the best job I can to protect the health and welfare of the citizens of Story County."