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Reilly named top nurse at medical school

Helene Reilly
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (May 13, 2011)   —   A cardiovascular nurse has been named the best in her field for 2011 at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and its medical group practice, ECU Physicians.

Helene Reilly, a family nurse practitioner in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, is the 2011 ECU Physicians Nurse of the Year. She has worked at ECU for eight years and has been a nurse for 39 years.

Reilly works in the cardiovascular imaging unit at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU, where she sees patients, supervises cardiac stress testing and manages other nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

"It's very humbling but it's also nice to be honored for something I love so much," Reilly said of receiving the recognition. "I can never see myself retiring because I enjoy my job and I enjoy my patients."

She is a native of New York and received her nursing diploma from St. John's Hospital and her bachelor's degree at Mercy College in New York and her master's degree at ECU.

"Helene is one of the most dedicated, thorough and accurate individuals I have ever worked with," Paula Barnhill, imaging manager at the heart institute, wrote in a nomination letter for Reilly. She described Reilly as a patient advocate who "exhibits many of the qualities that are essential for great leaders in health care."

In addition to her nursing duties, Reilly spoke at this year's Wear Red for Women event at ECU. She also teaches electrocardiogram classes to family nurse practitioner and physician assistant students at ECU and is an advanced cardiac life support instructor.

Reilly said she encourages new nurses to never stop learning, enjoy and listen to their patients, don't be afraid to ask questions and to find a mentor.

She also sets a healthful lifestyle example for coworkers and patients, having completed seven half-marathons in the past two years. At first, she just wanted to finish, but now she wants to better her previous time in each event.

"It's about like nursing," she said of distance running. "People are supportive. Even if you're the last person, they still cheer you on.

Reilly has three children and five grandchildren. In 2003, Reilly was named one of the state's Great 100 Nurses.

This is the second year in a row a nurse from cardiovascular sciences has received the award. Four other nurses were also finalists for the award, which was announced at a Thursday night banquet.


Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2482