Danika Murphy earns Kim McCarthy Healing Hearts Award

Danika Murphy

Montana Technological University’s Sherry Lesar School of Nursing has named senior Danika Murphy, of Butte, the inaugural recipient of the Kim McCarthy Healing Hearts Award.

The Healing Hearts Nursing Award honors Kim McCarthy, an expert nurse who demonstrated excellence in nursing, a passion for educating nursing students, and who left a lasting impact on the lives she touched and continuously healed hearts.

The award is bestowed upon a student who exemplifies hard work, takes initiative in personal and professional growth, and has a genuine connection with patients and peers. Students are nominated by faculty and additionally evaluated on leadership, communication, connection with patients, and mentoring skills.

The award honors Kimmie “Kim” McCarthy, a beloved member of the cardiac catheterization lab at St. James Hospital in Butte, who passed away unexpectedly on January 12, 2015 from a heart attack.

“She was an intelligent and expert nurse,” Associate Professor Maureen (Moe) Brophy said. “She had this intuitive ability to anticipate things before they happened, and she was a fierce advocate for patients and nurses. She was determined to provide the best care possible, expecting everyone to do the same. She was unafraid to address any issue, always wanting the best for her patients and coworkers. She was an amazing friend and she inspired those around her.”

Several former coworkers wrote of their experiences with Kim. They included stories of how Kim stayed with a coworker’s older son when the younger son was in the NICU, and how she stayed on the floor for extra hours one night, when another nurse was not quite comfortable with a new piece of equipment.

“Kim was the standard on which nurses should be measured,” a coworker wrote. “She excelled at caring for patients. Kim was hardworking, knowledgeable, and fun to work with. She wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she thought was right. We were lucky to have her as a coworker.”

Kim’s family, husband Jim, sons Shamus and Michael, and daughters-in-law Heidi and Kelli wanted to establish the award to honor students with similar talents. Jim remembers that his wife always had a knack for finding veins and inserting delicate intravenous lines when others had failed.

“I think it was because she comforted the patient so much,” Jim said. “She gave good shots, too. Her shots were really painless. Before the patient had time to cringe and she would be done already. She was a really good nurse.”

Brophy stated, “Kim was really good at administering shots and IVs and she was so much more than that. She was the nurse you wanted to care for you as a patient, and a coworker you wanted to work with." 

Jim says Kim would have never wanted recognition for her work, but he believes that if she could choose the type of award to be established in her honor, it would be for nurses who exemplify the top qualities of nursing.

“Kim liked helping other nurses and especially nursing students,” Jim said. “She always had that special insight to recognize those who would be good nurses. There’s more to nursing than a lot of people think. Kim was a partner. Nurses depend on each other a lot. They must work together as a group, and Kim was good at that. The patient was always #1. We wanted to honor someone who will take care of the patient, and care for them well.”

Director of Nursing Janet Coe, MSN, RN, CHSE, said, “Murphy had some initial uncertainty about nursing as a career choice but throughout her education she developed a passion for nursing. She developed genuine connections with patients while providing quality care. She was willing to help her classmates and other nursing student groups through leadership and mentoring. This award exemplifies the power of connection: between our program and the community, between nurse mentors and future nurses, and most of all the connection between the nurse and the patient. We’re thrilled that Danika is the first recipient of the Healing Hearts Award.”