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Lynn McFarlane

Rutgers Faculty Take Top Honors at Annual Humanism in Healthcare Awards

Faculty and Students Cited for Outstanding Patient Care

Group photo of Awardees
Rutgers awardees (L-R), George Heinrich, MD, assistant dean for admissions at New Jersey Medical School; Cindy Sickora, DNP, RN, associate professor and director of community health programs, Rutgers School of Nursing; Hosseinali Shahidi, assistant professor and chief of the division of community medicine and public health, Department of Emergency Medicine, New Jersey Medical School; Elaine Diegmann, ND, CNM, FACNM, professor and director of the Nurse Midwifery program, Rutgers School of Nursing; Carrie Wan, alumna Rutgers School of Nursing; and Frantz Gaspard, student at the nursing school.
(credit Shelley Kusnetz)
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Felesia Bowen
Felesia Bowen, PhD, APN, PNP, assistant professor and director of the Center for Urban Youth and Families at Rutgers School of Nursing
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August 2014

Contact: Lynn McFarlane

NEWARK--Rutgers nursing and medical school faculty took top honors at the annual Lester Z. Lieberman Humanism in Healthcare Awards ceremony hosted recently by the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey (HFNJ). Cindy Sickora, DNP, associate professor at Rutgers School of Nursing, and  Hosseinali Shahidi, MD, assistant professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and, were joint recipients of the Leadership in Humanism Award. George Heinrich, MD, associate dean at the medical school, received the inaugural Lieberman Legacy Award.

Also recognized from the School of Nursing were Felesia Bowen and Elaine Diegmann, professors; Frantz Gaspard, student; and Carrie Wan, a recent graduate. They were among 30 faculty, students and staff from 18 Essex County nursing schools and health care facilities who received Humanism in Healthcare Awards for treating patients and their families with exceptional kindness, compassion, and respect.
The HFNJ established the awards program in 2001 to recognize the principles and vital importance of compassion, empathy, respect, and cultural sensitivity in the delivery of healthcare.  The program was re-named in 2009 to honor Lester Z. Lieberman, the founding chairman of HFNJ who served in that role for 17 years before he died in November 2013. 

Cindy Sickora, DNP, RN and Hosseinali Shahidi, MD together received the Lester Z. Lieberman Leadership Award  in Humanism for establishing health and wellness programs in underserved sections of Newark. She is the founding director and he is the medical director for the School of Nursing’s Jordan and Harris Community Health Center, which provides onsite health services to residents at three Newark public housing developments. With support from the HFNJ, the center operates a community health worker program that trains and employs several of the residents as health advocates for their neighbors.

Sickora, who lives in Morris Township, earned her MSN and DNP degrees at Rutgers School of Nursing, where she teaches community health nursing and oversees the New Jersey Children’s Health Project, the school’s mobile health care program that takes a fully staffed health clinic on wheels to provide primary care to children and adults at community agency sites in Newark and vicinity.

Shahidi, of Piscataway, is assistant professor of emergency medicine and chief of New Jersey Medical School’s Division of Community Medicine and Public Health in the Department of Emergency Medicine. He is an attending emergency physician at University Hospital, Newark. In his native Iran, where he earned his medical degree, Shahidi created a model program that trained nomads and villagers in isolated areas to become health workers. Today, there are 17,000 community health workers in Iran and similar programs can be found across the globe.

George Heinrich, MD, New Jersey Medical School’s associate dean for admissions, received the inaugural Lester Z. Lieberman Legacy Award  in Humanism for “embodying the values and virtues of humanism in medicine.” In addition to his role at the school, where he earned his medical degree, he serves as chief executive officer and vice chairman at the Foundation Venture Capital Group, LLC, and the NEW JERSEY HEALTH Foundation, and is a board member at several health care institutions.

Felesia Bowen, PhD, APN, PNP, a resident of Jackson, is an assistant professor and a nationally certified pediatric nurse practitioner. She is the director of the nursing school’s Center for Urban Youth and Families.  She is an alumna of Rutgers University, where she earned her M.S. in nursing. Her research focusses on pediatric health disparities that affect the youth and families of Greater Newark. She has funded studies in the area of asthma, obesity, violence and oral health and works with various agencies, physicians, schools and local governments to raise awareness around pediatric health disparities.  She also volunteers her time with pediatric physicians, nurses and family groups in Newark to educate parents on how they can help safeguard their children’s health. Bowen began her career as a  nurse in the U.S. Army where she attained the rank of major.

Elaine Diegmann, ND, CNM, FACNM, a resident of Edison, is a professor, certified nurse midwife, and the director of the Nurse Midwifery educational program at Rutgers, the only such program in New Jersey. An outspoken advocate of normal, non-caesarian section births, she practices as a nurse midwife at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Newark and has developed three midwifery practices in the greater Newark area that primarily serve low-income women. She also works with several local hospitals on initiatives to improve their services to mothers and babies.

Frantz Gaspard, an attorney who lives in West Orange, is pursuing a career in nursing after practicing criminal and civil law in Florida and Indiana. As a student in the 14-month, accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at Rutgers School of Nursing, he has received praise from his instructors for his exceptionally compassionate interaction with patients during his clinical rotations.

The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey was established in 1996 with the proceeds from the sale of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and is dedicated to providing access to high quality, compassionate health care for vulnerable populations in greater Newark and the Jewish community. Learn more at

Rutgers School of Nursing educates more than 1850 students in Newark, New Brunswick, and Blackwood, NJ. Offering a full range of academic programs at the baccalaureate, master’s, post-master’s and doctoral degree levels, as well as multiple continuing education programs for nurses and other health care professionals, Rutgers School of Nursing is the largest, most comprehensive nursing education program in the state. For more information, visit

Celebrating its 60th anniversary, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School was founded in 1954 and is the oldest school of medicine in the state.  Today it is part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and graduates approximately 170 physicians a year. In addition to providing the MD degree, the school offers MD/PhD, MD/MPH and MD/MBA degrees through collaborations with other institutions of higher education. Dedicated to excellence in education, research, clinical care and community outreach, the medical school comprises 22 academic departments and works with several healthcare partners, including its principal teaching hospital, The University Hospital. For more information please visit:


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