Credo Award

May 10, 2024

Audrey Kuntz won an award. Her colleagues gifted her a tool belt.

For her ability to problem solve and advocate for patients and staff, Kuntz was a named a Credo Award winner.

Audrey Kuntz, EdD, MSN, RN, CPPS, senior associate at Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital recently won a Credo Award. Photo by Donn Jones.

Audrey Kuntz, EdD, MSN, RN, CPPS, senior associate at Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital (VWCH), recently received an unusual gift from her nursing colleagues — a tool belt.

“Which is fitting for her, as she has the tools to problem solve and fix just about any situation,” one of Kuntz’s colleagues wrote in her nomination for a Credo Award. “If she doesn’t have the tools needed, she will find a way to help. She is approachable and honest. You can go to her with any issue, and like magic, the problem is addressed and resolved. She is a great advocate for staff and patients and has exceptional resourcefulness.”

When Kuntz’s colleagues have a problem or a question, their first instinct is to “ask Audrey.”

For her sense of ownership and commitment to excellence, Kuntz was recognized with a Credo Award during the May 2024 virtual Leadership Assembly. It is the latest honor for a dear colleague who has held diverse and progressive nursing roles over a nearly 30-year career at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Even as a nursing leader, Kuntz wears scrubs every day. She said it makes her approachable. And she doesn’t mind fielding all those questions.

“I’ll tell you whatever I know,” she said, then added, “but let me tell you how to find it.”

Kuntz honed her expertise over a diverse career. Six years before arriving at Vanderbilt, she worked as a nurse in the United States Air Force and as a travel nurse. When her husband relocated to Nashville, she joined Vanderbilt in 1995, first as an evening assistant manager in general medicine/surgery. From there, she held roles as educational consultant, director of Perioperative Education and Research, Senior Quality and Safety Advisor and nurse manager.

Since 2021, she has served as the senior associate at VWCH, which VUMC acquired that year. She has helped oversee the transition from a for-profit hospital company to a large academic medical system, facilitating implementation of new projects such as Phillips monitoring systems.

VWCH has experienced exponential growth in the last couple of years coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have watched this hospital just blossom,” she said. “Our nurses are doing their best work, and our patients and families are incredibly happy to be here.”

When she first started, Kuntz never dreamed of staying at Vanderbilt for most of her nursing career; she thought she would remain in the military. But during her orientation, she remembers hearing from Marilyn Dubree, MSN, RN, now executive chief nursing officer. “She said, ‘You can spend your entire career here at Vanderbilt. There are so many different roles for nurses here,’” Kuntz recalled. “And she was not lying.”

Kuntz remembers being part of the process to develop the Credo years ago, and she is humbled to receive the award. She is thankful for all the opportunities she has received at Vanderbilt.

“I don’t know why people let me do what they let me do, but for me it was honestly exciting, and it let me flourish and be myself. I could be my unique self.”

View Audrey Kuntz’s video from Leadership Assembly here.

If you are a VUMC employee, you can nominate a colleague for an Elevate Credo Award, Five Pillar Leader Award, or Team Award. Visit the Elevate website to fill out a nomination form. Employees demonstrate credo behaviors when: they make those they serve the highest priority; respect privacy and confidentiality; communicate effectively; conduct themselves professionally; have a sense of ownership; and are committed to their colleagues. Elevate award nominations are accepted year-round. If a nomination is received after the cut off for an award selection period, the nomination will be considered for the next period. VUMC VOICE will post stories on each of the award winners in the weeks following their announcement.