For "exemplary professional qualities and dedication to nursing," Susan Jero, Sandy, has won $250, a certificate and other prizes in a national contest.

Assistant director of nursing/critical care and general care at St. Mark's Hospital, Jero was named Thursday as one of three Western regional winners in the Nurse Mates' Heart of Gold competition, sponsored by Lowell Shoe Inc., Hudson, N.H.She was selected by a panel of nursing judges as one of nine semifinalists from hundreds of nurses across the country and is now eligible to enter national competition in which more than $9,000 in prizes will be awarded.

"I would encourage any person who is interested in helping others to pursue this profession. I have found it very gratifying," Jero said.

Jero received her bachelor of science in nursing from Brigham Young University. She is national faculty affiliate for advanced cardiac life support and has helped to implement St. Mark's clinical ladder program and the acuity documentation system. She is a department head and member of the marketing task force.

She has been a nurse's aide at University Hospital and in 13 years advanced from a technical aide to intensive care unit coordinator at St. Mark's. Through her efforts, 60 percent of her staff has been in the department more than five years, said Kerry Weaver, a former unit secretary who nominated her for the award.

Colleagues say she is fair, kind, empathetic and has a wonderful sense of humor. Her door is always open for discussion. In planning schedules, she goes out of her way to accommodate staff members' personal needs and is known for her diplomacy during tense situations. She has won high praise from physicians, patients and their families, Weaver said.

Jero was born and reared in Los Angeles; she has two daughters, Brandy, and Rebecca.