Skip to main content

News Release

Phoenix Children’s Hosts Inaugural Heart & Hand Clinical Excellence Awards

(PHOENIX) - Phoenix Children’s hosted its first Heart & Hand Clinical Excellence Awards on Thursday, October 21 at the Phoenix Country Club. The Heart and Hand Clinical Excellence Awards honor Phoenix Children’s physicians and advanced practice providers who have made exceptional contributions to pediatric medicine. Keynote speaker, former NHL player and current chief hockey development officer for the Arizona Coyotes, Shane Doan, addressed attendees during this event that focused on celebrating excellence in the areas of clinical care, research and medical education. The event host and emcee was Phoenix Children’s Physician-in-Chief Dr. Jared Muenzer, with additional speakers President & CEO Robert L. Meyer and Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Daniel Ostlie.

“These awards are uniquely special because all of those nominated were done so by their peers,” said Steve Schnall, senior vice president of Phoenix Children’s Foundation. “With countless examples of excellence exhibited by our amazing physicians and advanced practice providers, we are honored to be able to recognize all of those who offer exemplary service and foster an environment of hope, healing and world-class healthcare.”

The Phoenix Children’s Medical Group Governance Council voted to select award recipients, from the 15 top nominees, three from each of the categories listed below:

  • Physician of the Year: The Physician of the Year is the doctor who lives and breathes these values. They excel clinically, go the extra mile to demonstrate service, and intentionally communicate with their teams and patient families.
  • Advanced Practice Provider of the Year: The Advanced Practice Provider of the year embodies family-centered care. The child’s needs always come first, and they put in the effort to ensure the family is informed, empowered and valued as part of the care team.
  • Researcher of the Year: The Researcher of the Year designation is the award for the intensely curious. They are actively involved in the conversation around improvement and innovation, making contributions in clinical, translation and/or basic science research.
  • Teacher of the Year: This special recognition is for those on the teaching faculty who take the time to coach those around them and actively mentor future clinicians to carry on a shared mission of hope and healing.
  • Advocate of the Year: The Advocate of the Year award is reserved for those providers who bring a passion with them every day to help bridge the gaps in care in the surrounding community.

The five recipients of the first Heart and Hand Clinical Excellence Awards are:

  • Wendy P. Bernatavicius, MD, Physician of the Year
  • Katherine M. Harrison, MSN, RN, CPNP-AC, CCRN, Advanced Practice Provider of the Year
  • Michael C. Kruer, MD, Researcher of the Year
  • Vasudha L. Bhavaraju, MD, Teacher of the Year
  • Alexandra M. Walsh, MD, Advocate of the Year

The event would not be possible without its sponsors, including: Staybridge Suites, In-Group Hospitality, Trident Security, Progressive Management Systems, Maricopa Ambulance, Stifel Hagen Wealth Management Group, Gammage & Burnham, IES Communications, Littler, Palo Alto Networks and Arizona Coyotes.  

For more information and to learn how to become a future sponsor, please visit

About Phoenix Children’s

Phoenix Children’s is one of the nation’s largest pediatric health systems. It comprises Phoenix Children’s Hospital–Main Campus, Phoenix Children’s Hospital–East Valley at Dignity Health Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, four pediatric specialty and urgent care centers, 11 community pediatric practices, 20 outpatient clinics, two ambulatory surgery centers and six community-service-related outpatient clinics throughout the state of Arizona. The system has provided world-class inpatient, outpatient, trauma, emergency and urgent care to children and families for more than 35 years. Phoenix Children’s Care Network includes more than 850 pediatric primary care providers and specialists who deliver care across more than 75 subspecialties. For more information, visit

Share this page