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Medical Center Mourns the Loss of Nurse Leader Michele Unger

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Michele Unger, D.N.P., R.N., C.C.R.N., N.E.A.-B.C.,

Michele Unger, D.N.P., R.N., C.C.R.N., N.E.A.-B.C., a nurse with more than 30 years of experience as a clinician, instructor and leader at teaching hospitals and academic medical centers, including the University of Rochester Medical Center, died this morning after a battle with cancer.

Unger most recently served as associate director of nursing practice at Strong, and as an assistant professor of clinical nursing at the School of Nursing. She was also associate director of the School of Nursing’s Leadership in Healthcare Systems master’s programs. Unger was widely known for her ability to establish collaborative relationships with physicians, leaders and staff, and for leading a number of cultural, operational and financial transformations throughout her career.

“Michele was a powerful advocate for professional nursing practice and high quality patient- and family-centered care,” said Patricia Anne Witzel, R.N., M.S., M.B.A., F.N.A.P., chief nursing officer at Strong and Medical Center associate vice president. “She made significant contributions in both of these areas during her tenure at the University of Rochester Medical Center.”

Within Strong, Unger helped develop and implement patient- and family-centered care throughout nursing services, educating and preparing unit-based nurses to champion the approach. She was also involved in preparing documentation for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to support the hospital’s application for re-designation as a Magnet hospital, which serves as the gold standard for nursing excellence. The ANCC visit is later this month. Unger also co-chaired Strong’s Research and Evidence-Based Council and served on a number of hospital nursing councils.

School of Nursing Dean Kathy H. Rideout, Ed.D., P.N.P.-B.C., F.N.A.P., described Unger as a "leader among leaders" and said that School of Nursing students "were incredibly fortunate to have her as an instructor and  role model." 

Unger got her start as a staff nurse, rising quickly to the role of critical care instructor. In 1987 she joined Rochester General Hospital’s Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit and Surgical Intensive Unit, and within five years was named director of nursing for all of the hospital’s surgical critical care units. She later became nursing director of the hospital’s Rochester Heart Institute, which integrated medical, surgical, procedural and off-campus departments. She briefly served as director of nursing in cardiac services for Kaleida Health in Buffalo, before joining the University of Rochester Medical Center in 2011.

Donations in her memory will be used to establish a Michele Unger Memorial Award to be presented annually to a School of Nursing student enrolled in the Leadership in Healthcare Systems master of science program. Donations may be made to: The University of Rochester School of Nursing, PO Box 278996, Roch., N.Y., 14627-8996.

Media Contact

Christine Roth

(585) 275-1309