Sherry Davis, RN-PMH
2010 Award for Excellence in Practice ~ RN-PMH

Sherry Davis, RN-PMH has been a psychiatric nurse for 23 years. Whether she’s coordinating a nonprofit integrated outpatient mental health clinic or working with a mobile crisis team, her practice reflects her commitment to excellence. She currently serves as coordinator of the Integrated Services Team at the Helen Ross McNabb Center in Knoxville Tennessee, tenaciously advocating for her patients while also interacting, collaborating, and managing a large and diverse staff. The center is a nonprofit integrated outpatient mental health clinic which serves approximately 3,500 clients in the Knoxville area.

Davis highly values interdisciplinary collegiality in her practice. As IST Coordinator, she leads the orientation and supervision of other nurses, case managers from various disciplines, and students from programs ranging from nursing to social work. Instruction, for Davis, is all about give and take. She is frank and not afraid to identify deficits, but always tempers this feedback with an offer of assistance. In return she asks for suggestions about how she can improve and facilitate learning in her clinical environment. She also uses her work with students as an opportunity to broaden their views of psychiatric patients. She challenges their preconceptions of what persons with mental illness are capable of. She is also a wealth of information on furthering clinical education via mental health support and advocacy groups, day programs, and continuing education opportunities.

In addition to navigating the abundant responsibilities of her position, Davis has gone the extra mile in her work as a liaison for several of the research projects conducted at the HRMC. Even though she had no formal role in the projects, Davis dedicated the spare minutes in her work day to coordinate research space and computer access, aid communication between research and clinical staff, help identify subjects, monitor clients’ responses, and coordinate client transportation to research activities. Lora Beebe, who worked closely with Davis and who is this year’s recipient of the Award for Excellence in Research, says, “Ms. Davis did all these things not because it was her job, nor because she was technically a part of the ‘research team,’ but solely because she believed in her heart that participating in the research would be of benefit to the patients she served.”

Not just an instructor and coordinator, Davis has also headed back to the classroom. She completed a program in August and is already looking at graduate programs, interested in pursuing either a master’s in mental health nursing or a doctorate of nursing practice with a mental health focus. This constant push to go the distance and more, to constantly improve and learn, is certainly a large factor in keeping her practice excellent!