Public Health Nurse Earns National Award
When Cascade City-County Health Department public health nurse Magda Roberts received a call for “Parents Educator of the Year” Award nominations, from the National Center for Parents as Teachers (PAT) she was pleased to see she met the criteria for award nomination. That was as far as her excitement went. She did not expect she would be selected to receive one of the five national awards from PAT.
The letter of nomination was presented by Carol Keaster, Family Services Manager at CCHD. Two client families supported by Roberts through CCHD’s home visitation program wrote letters of recommendation toward her nomination. Roberts recalls, “I was pleasantly surprised and very touched because they were very eager to do it and said how glad they were that they had a chance to do something for me.”
One month later, Carol Keaster, Roberts’ immediate supervisor, informed her she won national recognition and would be attending the PAT National Conference in St. Louis, Missouri in November, 2010. “That was indeed great news, and at first I said, ‘You must be kidding me!’” Roberts recalls.
About a week later, Roberts attended the Montana Spring Public Health Conference in Bozeman where she was scheduled to speak on the importance of “Parents as Teachers” integration in the home visitation program. “People I hardly knew were congratulating me,” Roberts says. She thought it was because she was speaking at the conference or her recent graduation with a master’s degree in nursing. It turned out that word had spread quickly of the public health nurse who earned such a prestigious honor.
Roberts, who has been a nurse for 35 years, says this award symbolizes quality services and investing in the future of our community. She also credits the PAT program for helping her reclaim her passion for nursing, as she is a strong advocate for using research and evidence-based practice in programs. “Integrating PAT into our services not only benefits our clients but it gives our staff a sense of professional pride,” Roberts said. She emphasized the importance of quality programs offered by the health department and how much of a difference it can make on individual lives.
Above all, Roberts views her award as a national recognition of all the public health nurses and staff at the City-County Health Department and of their devotion to excellence in services. “Our programs represent a great need in our community,” Roberts says. CCHD is one of the four sites in Great Falls that offers the Parents as Teachers program, and one of eleven sites in Montana. “I believe that now, more than ever, there is a great need for our services,” Roberts concluded.
Parents as Teachers (PAT) is a home visitation program designed as a partnership with families focused on giving children the best possible start in life. The philosophy underlying PAT is that parents are a child’s first and most influential teachers, and the role of the parent educator is to assist families in giving their children a solid education foundation. The CCHD Public Health Nurses/Parent Educators use PAT as a framework for conducting home visits and facilitating the development of parenting skills through parent-child interactive play, educational PAT handouts, and through watching PAT videos. For more information on PAT click here: Parents as Teachers.