2021 AWARD WINNERS
BSN, RN, NTMNC, CCRN
Clinical Nurse II
Intensive Care Nursery
Duke University Hospital
DNP, NP-C, AACC, FAANP
Carolyn exemplifies Swanson’s Theory of Caring every day. Her empathetic nature and dedication to new moms in their times of need makes her an invaluable part of her team. A parent praised her for assistance with breastfeeding, saying “She was empathetic toward me, helped me with latching and I highly appreciate the extra effort she took.” Promoting positive interactions and giving insight to new moms has always been her top priority. Carolyn truly cares for each and every one of her patients as if they were family, making her more than deserving of this award.
When JCAHO surveyors visited the unit, the nominee volunteered to speak to them. After an hour-long, thorough discussion with them, they commented on her wealth of knowledge and the ease in which she highlighted the interdisciplinary team’s care for the patient population. It is not surprising the nominee performed such an exceptional job articulating with the surveyors because she always remains calm under pressure. From patient codes to disgruntled parents, the nominee seeks out opportunities to support fellow staff members during stressful situations. The nominee consistently observes other disciplines such as lactation, physical therapy, and occupational therapy when they work with family members for ways she can improve on her bedside care while practicing nursing care within her scope of practice.
Taking pride in her role as a bedside nurse, the nominee holds certifications in basic life support, neonatal resuscitation provider, and neonatal touch-and-massage. She is the recipient of numerous gold stars from the hospital based on her exceptional work with patients and family members. The nominee balances her clinical time between the two units under the umbrella of the NICU. She began her nursing career in the transitional care portion of the unit, where infants are progressing toward discharge, and quickly gained the professional knowledge and expertise to pursue a clinical role in the intensive care area of the unit, where the infants are more complex. As a preceptor in two unit areas, the nominee has not only obtained respect from her colleagues, but also shared her knowledge and expertise to newer staff members.
The nominee volunteered to work alongside the pediatric ophthalmologist as the retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) coordinator. She creates a list of infants who need to be examined and closely monitored for the abnormal development of retinal blood vessels. The nominee notifies the advanced level practitioners of these identified infants and assists the team in making sure the correct eye exam drops are ordered. She confirms the nursing staff has administered the drops correctly and on schedule. She dictates the ophthalmologist’s findings during the exam, and writes letters to the parents updating the infant’s progress. She coordinates family meetings with the ophthalmologist when infants have a worsening condition requiring laser eye surgery. This coordinator role has decreased the incidence of retinal detachment at the nominee’s hospital.
In addition to being a preceptor for the unit, the nominee is also a member of the intern orientation committee. The nominee understands the importance of providing additional learning opportunities for interns, who may lack specific training in neonatal care. She teaches everything from infection prevention protocols, to how to observe and assess a premature baby by using developmental signals from the neonate. Interns have expressed gratitude toward the nominee, stating she helped them distinguish between normal infant reflexes and stress signs from the baby. Learning how to prioritize assessments and provide hand hugs when the baby needs neurological stability are two ways the nominee helps the interns succeed on their first day in the unit.
She participates in developmental education with staff in areas such as feeding development. Most of the neonates have to be taught how to nipple feed from a bottle, due to their negative oral experiences. For example, a premature infant who has been intubated will have stronger and more negative oral experiences, which can hinder oral feedings once initiated. The nominee will teach staff how to promote positive oral experiences by observing an infant’s physiologic cues. Teaching staff and family members how to respond to the infant’s cues maximizes the direct impact on the success of the infant’s ability to bottle feed, thus decreasing the need for alternative feeding routes, such as gastric feeding tubes. Promoting positive interactions has always been the nominee’s top priority.
Meeting the needs of her patients through education and collaboration, the nominee assumed the roles of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) coordinator, intern orientation educator, and neonatal touch-and-massage nurse to improve patient outcomes.