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Sunnybrook nurses saluted as ‘nursing heroes’ in national contest

May 3, 2019

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In a record-breaking year, Sunnybrook nurses shined in the annual Nursing Hero Awards organized by Hospital News, one of Canada­­­’s leading health-care newspapers.

Rebecca Gonser, a registered nurse in the Tory Trauma Program, placed first in this year’s nationwide award. In one of her four nominations, Gonser­ is described as a role model, offering others “a clear definition of what the gold-standard of nursing care looks like.”

“I am so grateful and honoured to be nominated for this award by my colleagues,” says Gonser. “I don't think of myself as a hero, but I know that each day I am so fortunate to work surrounded by a team of health-care heroes here at Sunnybrook."

Along with receiving the top prize, three other Sunnybrook nurses – Elli Clarke, Juliet Hutchinson and Carolyn Lawton – received honourable mentions, and a total of 16 nurses were nominated.

The Nursing Hero Awards, announced in honour of National Nursing Week (May 6 - 12), salute Canadian nursing heroes and highlight their exceptional work. Nominations were from peers, managers, patients and patients’ family members. This year’s winners were selected from a record-breaking 214 submissions from across the country.

Meet our award-winning and honourable-mention nurses

Rebecca Gonser

Rebecca Gonser

Rebecca Gonser is a registered nurse in the Tory Trauma Program who “mentors young nurses, tirelessly promotes quality improvement initiatives and takes special interest in trauma patients and their care.” Rebecca has a huge impact on her colleagues and offers consistent, compassionate care to a challenging patient population.


Elli Clarke

Elli Clarke

Elli Clarke is a registered nurse and cardiac care coordinator in the Schulich Heart Program. In one of her several nominations, Elli is said to “epitomize everything that nursing stands for: skill, excellence, caring, compassion.” Recently, she established the first Sunnybrook Cardiac Surgery Patient Support Group for patients and families to share their experiences, concerns, fears and strategies for recovery in a safe, inclusive environment.


Juliet Hutchinson

Juliet Hutchinson

Juliet Hutchinson, D3 charge nurse in the Schulich Heart Program, is described by nominators as enthusiastic, supportive, and knowledgeable. She is said by many to have an exceptional work ethic, often volunteering to stay beyond regular hours to support her colleagues and the unit.


Carolyn Lawton

Carolyn Lawton

Carolyn Lawton, nurse practitioner for diabetes, provides advanced diabetes care for medically complex patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Carolyn was instrumental in the development of the Sunnybrook Diabetes Education Program (SUNDEC), which has been helping people live well with diabetes for more than 30 years.


Congratulations to all our nominees:

  • Elli Clarke
  • Euneka D’Aguiar
  • Eleanor Diokno
  • Halimo Elmi
  • Rebecca Gonser
  • Wendell Greenidge
  • Juliet Hutchinson
  • Carolyn Lawton
  • Janet Love
  • Sandra McDowell
  • Karen McLean
  • Alyssa Richard
  • Sarah Scully
  • Sue Seymour
  • Mark Urdaneta