Expertise and positivity spur veteran nurse to Educator of the Year honor

September 14, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees, ,

Approximately a 4-minute read

Key takeaways:

  • Karrie Martis, B.S.N., B.A., R.N., NPD-BC was recently named U-M Clinical Simulation Center (CSC) Educator of the Year, an honor that left her “dumbfounded.”
  • The award recognized her achievements in facilitating learners and colleagues in educational venues across Michigan Medicine.
  • Colleagues describe Martis as “energetic,” “positive” and “passionate,” and said her technical expertise cements her place as one of the best in her field.

Karrie Martis, B.S.N., B.A., R.N., NPD-BC, has accomplished so much in her 30-plus years as a nurse at U-M, but one of her greatest achievements was bestowed this summer — U-M Clinical Simulation Center (CSC) Educator of the Year.

“I’m dumbfounded,” Martis said, when asked about being nominated and winning an award. “I’m not usually at a loss for words. It took me a good half-hour to think about it and respond. I still haven’t wrapped my head around it.”

The award recognized her achievements in facilitating learners and colleagues in educational venues across Michigan Medicine. The courses that Martis helps facilitate include the Nursing Critical Care Orientation, EKG courses for nursing, Preceptor Development, New Educator Orientation and the Simulation Facilitation Course, which is open to eligible U-M medical faculty, nursing education or allied health personnel in concert with the CSC.

During Nursing Professional Development Week, it’s educators like Martis and others within the Nursing Professional Development & Education (PD&E) team who advance nursing practice and improve patient outcomes.

When you speak to others about Martis, it goes beyond a single award. It’s her energy, her positivity, and her unyielding dedication to give to others in a profession that’s meant so much to her.

“To me, it’s helping myself, my colleagues and my profession advance one little step further on the life journey as a nurse,” said Martis about what nursing professional development means to her. “So much of that path impacts one’s personal growth — it’s a win/win situation.”

Learning from personal experience

Martis’ rise to Educator of the Year began long ago in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) working long, hard shifts that she described as “very stressful, but incredibly rewarding.”

“I loved being a PICU nurse,” Martis said. “But within the first two years of being a nurse in the PICU, I made an error in delivering care.”

That experience compelled Martis to help create additional training, education and support structures to decrease the chance of that happening again. It set her on the path to being the educator that she is today.

Colleague Deb O’Neal, B.S.N., R.N., was effusive in praise of Martis, especially as it pertained to attitude and guidance.

“She has been a great mentor,” O’Neal said. “I have learned to stay positive even when that isn’t how you are feeling. Karrie always presents a positive outlook.”

It’s a common theme of Martis, who was consistently described as “energetic,” “positive” and “passionate” by coworkers. Beyond that, her technical expertise cements her place as one of the best in her field.

“Karrie is always willing to help,” said PD&E colleague Christina Conrad, M.S.N., R.N., ACNS-BC, O.C.N. “She is excellent with technology. If she doesn’t know something, she will work on it until she figures it out.”

A pursuit of excellence

In the nominating form, written by PD&E’s Laura Mason, M.S.N., R.N., CCRN, NPD-BC, it said, “Both her colleagues and her students are inspired by her generous, enthusiastic and endlessly supportive demeanor and she consistently receives overwhelming positive reviews in all course feedback.”

It’s that relentless pursuit of excellence that makes Martis special: her love of nursing and education is infectious.

“Karrie is most deserving of this award because of her passion and enthusiasm for simulation education,” said Nursing PD&E Director Maria Bobo, D.N.P., R.N., WHNP-BC, CENP, NPD-BC. “She is a huge advocate for our patients, our nursing staff and her colleagues (other nurse educators). As an influential change agent, she fosters positive staff and interdisciplinary relationships through her calm yet confident demeanor.”

“She lives each day fully sharing her many talents with all,” added Dorothy Nagle, M.S.N., R.N., NPD-BC, an educational nurse specialist with PD&E.

And after speaking to Martis, it’s easy to get excited about nursing. She loves it and wants you to love it, too.

“Being a nurse is amazing,” she said. “As far as helping another’s career, I always start with this: throw kindness like confetti.”

Want to learn more about nursing professional development at Michigan Medicine? Check out The Wrap employee podcast below!

And do you have a great story about someone who has been recognized or honored for their work? Send it to!