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2023 Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Nurses Alumni Awards

Judy Friedrichs, left, and Cheryl Zlotnick, right

Each year the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Nurses Alumni Association Board of Directors awards the Distinguished Alumni Award and the newly created Excellence in Practice Award to two College of Nursing alumni.

Congratulations to the 2023 Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Nurses Alumni Award Recipients!

2023 Distinguished Alumni Award

Cheryl Zlotnick, RN, MS, MPH, DrPH (MS ’82)

Cheryl Zlotnick, RN, MS, MPH, DrPH (MS ’82)

Cheryl Zlotnick, RN, MS, MPH, DrPH, is a full professor at the Cheryl Spencer Department of Nursing at the University of Haifa, Israel.  She received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from University of Delaware, a master’s from RUSH University, and a master’s and doctoral degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in epidemiology of substance abuse at University of California at Berkeley. 

Before moving to Israel in November 2010, she lived in northern California and held a dual appointment as faculty at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute and as director of the Center for the Vulnerable Child at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland.  The approximately $9 million program was funded by federal and philanthropic grants and contracts supporting 50 scientists, psychologists, physicians, nurses, social workers, trainees and others. The center is involved in research or delivery of clinical services designed to benefit families in transition, including migrant populations and families and children living in homeless situations, transient or temporary living situations, or foster care. 

Dr. Zlotnick has more than 100 publications and has been the principal investigator of many national and international grants.  Her studies focus on examining culturally appropriate interventions, health care utilization, and the health status of children, adults and families living in impoverished and transitional situations, i.e., new immigrants, homeless individuals and youth in foster care/group homes.


2023 Excellence in Practice Award

Judy Friedrichs, DNP, RN, FT, CPLC (DNP ‘15)

Judy Friedrichs, DNP, RN, FT, CPLC (DNP ‘15)

Judy Friedrichs, DNP, RN, FT, CPLC, is a certified nurse in perinatal loss care and is the wellness liaison at the RUSH Wellness Center. She began her career in the neonatal intensive care unit in 1977 and has always enjoyed opportunities to mentor and collaborate with staff, faculty and students.

Judy developed the NICU’s Stepping Stones Bereavement Support Program and expanded it to the Department of Women, Children and Family Nursing by starting staff discussions called Support Our Staff with the hospital’s psych liaisons. As her role evolved, she transitioned from the bedside to leadership through her work as quality coordinator for the department and her service in the Professional Nursing Staff organization.

Judy completed her master’s degree in 1985 at RUSH University, becoming a practitioner-teacher. She was recruited back to the NICU to serve as assistant unit director, and she remained in that role for 10 years.

When she saw a need for infants to have the benefit of touch, she partnered with parents and developed the NICU Cuddler Program 38 years ago. A solid core of program volunteers and screened students from RUSH University, who learn about infant neurological development and socialization, continue to hold, rock and read to NICU patients. Friedrichs chaired the Infant and Children’s Security Task Force, shepherding in the first security system in the Department of Women, Children and Family Nursing and developing the Code Pink in 2000.

Moving into an education/quality position for nursing, Judy continued her roles as bereavement support and cuddler coordinator while also focusing on staff education and program development. She was able to formalize the role of bereavement support and education coordinator through RUSH University’s Systems of Doctor Nursing Practice leadership program, creating a sustainable position to promote staff support, provide follow-up bereavement support care for families, and educate on loss, grief and stress.

Judy’s focus has pivoted again in the role of wellness liaison, where she provides the monthly RU Well Workshops for RUSH University. She speaks on all aspects of wellness to units, departments and clinics across Rush University System for Health and provides follow-up RESET discussions after a distressing event. She has published and presented on collaboration, perinatal loss care, infant security, the Safe Haven law and wellness. She also had an opportunity to be a Public Voices Fellow with the OpEd Project at RUSH.

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