2022 AWARD WINNERS
MHA, BSN, RN, CNOR
Duke Eye Center
Duke University Hospital
DNP, NP-C, AACC, FAANP
Cindy started her health care career as a medical assistant, then went to nursing school first for her LPN, then RN. She joined the Eye Center OR in 1999, after responding to an advertisement in the newspaper! In addition to her nursing degrees, she completed a bachelor’s in Heath Care Management and a master’s in Health Administration. Cindy is passionate about mentoring nurses; she has been a Clinical Ladder Advisor since 2014. She created a unit-based recognition program to reward nurses who exemplify Duke Values. And, she researched and partnered with other health system leaders to develop a Nurse Advancement Plan specifically for the nurses in the Eye Center OR, to support their progress on the Clinical Ladder.
She leads a team of Nurses and Surgical Technicians in the Eye Center Operating Room with compassion, transparency, and critical thinking, and utilizes the tenets of Swanson’s Theory of Caring. This nominee uses these caring processes to cultivate meaningful relationships, which then leads to a healthy work environment. In an attempt to formalize her approach to improving the work environment, she performed literature reviews and sought mentorship from those with more experience. She researched the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses’ Healthy Work Environment framework, which is an evidence-based approach to evaluating and achieving a strong work culture. This process includes the use of a healthy work environment survey completed by the frontline staff, evaluation of the results, and applying the six standards of the framework: skilled communication, effective decision-making, meaningful recognition, true collaboration, appropriate staffing and authentic leadership. Her research findings described specific and practical strategies to improve the work environment, and she is dedicated to engaging staff in this work through education, one-on-one mentoring, the Clinical Ladder and change management.
She began her nursing career as a Licensed Practical Nurse and then went on to obtain an Associate Degree in Nursing. Since her start at Duke, she has progressed clinically and into leadership within the Eye Center. In 2011, she and one of her friends chose to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree, then she quickly went on her obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, which she graduated with in 2013. She described their “let’s do it!” attitude toward advancing their education. She also told me the story of her choosing to get a Master of Health Administration degree from there, which she graduated with in 2015, because she was interested in understanding a “bigger picture” and broadening her skill set. Her impressive dedication to furthering education translated into additional professional engagement activities, such as presenting her work at the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) conference. Since 2010, this nominee has had five podium and two poster presentations at AORN, on various topics, including RN Clinical Ladder Changes, Stress in the Perioperative Setting and Preserving Quality of Life with Ocular Brachytherapy. Her engagement in education and additional activities through professional organizations clearly reflects our value of Excellence and her contribution to advancing the nursing profession.
During conversations with this nominee, I mentioned a challenge I was facing related to meaningful recognition. Despite efforts, we found that the recognition we provided staff wasn’t the right “fit.” This nominee then described a unit-based recognition program that she developed to recognize staff members who are living Duke Values and to promote a positive work culture. Each month, the unit has a “designated” Duke Value that is discussed in staff meetings and huddles, where this nominee provides specific examples of how the values can be “lived” in an Operating Room setting. She uses the Living Our Values booklet as a resource and shares examples she has witnessed by team members. During the month, a staff member who exhibits the Value receives a coin, and the person who has the most coins at the end of each quarter is awarded a prize. I was encouraged to hear how excited the team gets about this initiative and “winning” the most coins! In addition, for the Duke Value of Excellence, staff write nominations for their peers, which are then reviewed by this nominee and other unit leaders. This peer recognition is one of the more valuable methods of meaningful recognition.
I met this nominee through our shared participation in the Mentoring Black Nurses to Success program. I was matched with her, I as the mentor and she as the mentee, but I’m so thankful to say that she has been guiding me as well.
An example of her engagement with our mentoring relationship is her follow-through with developing a Nurse Advancement Plan for the nurses she leads. This nominee discussed her challenge of engaging new nurses after they transition off of orientation. Despite the Nurse Residency Program, because of the unique nature of the Eye Center Operating Room, she was seeking creative strategies to retain nurses. Together, we performed research and partnered with other leaders at the hospital to identify opportunities. This nominee identified many opportunities for staff to participate in engagement opportunities and developed a “road map” for staff to keep. She incorporated this plan into individuals’ coaching conversations to support their progress and participation in the Clinical Ladder.
This Friends of Nursing Excellence Award nominee exemplifies Swanson’s Theory of Caring, particularly through the caring process of “Doing For.” When applied to leadership practice, the Theory of Caring is an effective medium to influencing frontline staff to engage in clinical and professional practice that improves patient care and outcomes. This nominee’s involvement in the Clinical Ladder Program as an Advisor, the Mentoring Black Nurses to Success as a mentee, and a presenter for a national professional organization are three examples of how she reflects professionalism and the notion of the theory that informed practice leads to the caring of others.
This nominee exemplifies Duke Nursing, as she is professional, caring, and driven, all while being sincere and seeking opportunities to progress and help others.