Nurse at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford Receives National Award from Leading Publication

For Release: September 24, 2014

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Linda Ritter, RN, a longtime nurse in the Bass Childhood Cancer Center at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, has been honored by as a national winner of the 2014 Giving Excellence Meaning (GEM) Award in the category of Clinical Nursing, Inpatient.

“I am shocked, honored, and humbled,” said Ritter upon hearing of the prestigious award.

Extraordinary leadership in improving palliative care education

Each year, conducts a nationwide search for the best of the best in nursing, generating hundreds of nominations highlighting stories of excellence in leadership and management, education, volunteerism and all areas of clinical practice. Ritter, a nurse since 1982, received the GEM Award for her extraordinary leadership in improving palliative care education for the entire unit at the Bass Center.

“Linda truly embodies every aspect of providing excellence in patient care,” said co-worker Leslie Griffith, RN, who nominated Ritter. “We are so blessed she decided to become a nurse. The world is a little bit better because of the differences she has made.”

Linda Ritter - Stanford Medicine Children's Health

Ritter works as both a resource nurse and clinical nurse in the Bass Center, and her professional journey in palliative care was inspired by results from a survey she created that indicated a need for support and education amongst nurses on her unit.

To make it all happen, Ritter completed the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) Program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, first as an attendee and then as a trainer. That led Ritter to implement a yearly ELNEC program at the hospital, now in its fourth year. The ELNEC program is a national education initiative to improve palliative care by providing undergraduate and graduate nursing faculty, CE providers, staff development educators, specialty nurses in pediatrics, oncology, critical care and geriatrics, and other nurses with palliative care training. This essential information can then be taught to other nursing students and practicing nurses.

“Nurses advocate for their patients, who, in their opinion, have unmet needs and would benefit from some aspect of palliative care, and it is those moments that make our work worthwhile and engender our pride in the organization and the profession,” Ritter said.

In addition, Ritter’s leadership led to the formation of a palliative care committee for the pediatric oncology unit and the pediatric stem cell unit, where she serves in the role of a charge nurse. She and her colleagues created and developed a comfort cart, a holiday giving tree, staff mini-retreats and a palliative care manual for staff. They have applied many other comfort measures for patients, including door decals, music and quilts in order to provide excellence in pediatric palliative and end-of-life care.

Because of the success initiated on the unit, other units in the hospital have expressed interest in following in her footsteps. Ritter has helped raise the bar for providing excellence in pediatric patient care and has improved the delivery of palliative care throughout the hospital.

“Everyone at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health is proud that Linda has received this award, but we are not surprised,” said Susan Costello, PhD, vice president of patient care service and chief nursing executive. “She has long been known as a true leader and a wonderful voice for her patients. The honor is very well-deserved, and our entire organization congratulates her.”


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About Stanford Medicine Children's Health

Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford at its center, is the Bay Area’s largest health care system exclusively dedicated to children and expectant mothers. Our network of care includes more than 65 locations across Northern California and more than 85 locations in the U.S. Western region. Along with Stanford Health Care and the Stanford School of Medicine, we are part of Stanford Medicine, an ecosystem harnessing the potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education, and clinical care to improve health outcomes around the world. We are a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the community through meaningful outreach programs and services and providing necessary medical care to families, regardless of their ability to pay. Discover more at