Wellington neonatal nurse honored for her Florence Nightingale-like qualities

Carol Wallman seemed the perfect choice to receive the prestigious Nightingale Award presented by the Colorado Nurses Foundation in May. Among 46 nominees, she stood out as the person most representative of the work of Florence Nightingale, a compassionate clinical nurse and an advocate for improving nursing care and establishing a new level of nursing education in the 19th century.

Wallman, who has lived for 18 years with her husband in Wellington West, where they raised their two children, has combined clinical care with advocacy and policy making during 30 years as a neonatal nurse practitioner. “I work with sick and pre-term babies,” she said.

She is employed by Children’s Hospital of Aurora and for the past 13 years has been contracted to work in newborn intensive care at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins. She divides her time traveling to Denver weekly to serve as lead education coordinator at Children’s Hospital. She also teaches part time in the nurse practitioner program at Regis University in Denver. In 2013, she earned her doctorate in neonatal nursing and one day plans to be a full-time educator.

She has a special interest in advocating for infants affected by substance abuse and their families. In 2006, she became chairwoman of the Perinatal Substance Abuse Advisory Council in Larimer County, a multidisciplinary team that develops strategies to identify women at risk for substance abuse as early as their first prenatal visit. Over time, this effort has identified many at-risk families, provided supportive services, and resulted in far fewer infants being removed from their biological families.

As an advocate for advanced practice nursing, Wallman chaired the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn for six years. She helped author a seminal article on the risks for late pre-term infants (defined as birth at 34 to 36 weeks gestation), a population with special healthcare needs not previously acknowledged.

She also advocated for a neonatal residency program that was instituted in 2009 and provides new neonatal practitioners the time and support needed as they transition to being advanced-practice providers.

In a nomination letter for the Nightingale award, Stacy Wall, director of advanced practice at Children’s Hospital, described Wallman as a person who is “changing and improving care for a vulnerable population, that is advocacy at its best.”

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