Courtney Stierwalt

Courtney exemplifies Swanson’s Theory of Caring. She helped to update and organize Preceptor Academy for her unit, a class for new preceptors to help them acclimate to expectations of the unit, and has developed specialized tools to aid success. She identified the need for, and developed, a buddy/mentorship program to pair veteran nurses with new nurses to her unit. There are so many attributes for an exceptional nurse — empathy, compassion, adaptability and knowledge, to name a few — and this nurse exhibits all of these and more!


She demonstrates integrity in everything she does. She is ethical and honest in all actions and delivers on commitments that she has made. She takes initiative in the ideas that she comes up with as well as tasks that are delegated to her. She adheres to departmental and organizational policies and procedures. She recognizes her own strengths and weaknesses and understands differing perspectives. She holds herself and others accountable for their actions. She has demonstrated this in having to have difficult conversations with employees while in the Charge Nurse role. She also is involved on the Unit Orientation Committee, where she sets expectations and educates new employees on unit, departmental, and organizational policies and procedures.


This nurse first joined our team as a Professional Nursing Assistant over six years ago and then started as a new graduate nurse five years ago. She has grown and advanced tremendously, and is one of the senior nurses that all staff look to for guidance. She is a Preceptor, Charge Nurse, has her BSN and is currently in school to obtain her MSN as a Nurse Practitioner. She has her PCCN, is a member of the AACN and recently advanced to a CNIV. She attends our service line Clinical Practice Council and provides feedback and ideas. She is the Chair of our Unit Orientation Committee, where she helps onboard new orientees and ensures their success during orientation. She holds a Unit Administrative Day during the first week of orientation for new employees, to acclimate them to the unit, go over health system and unit policies and procedures, ensure they have access to everything, and so much more. She meets with orientees on a bi-weekly basis to ensure they have everything they need to succeed on orientation.


This nurse is always looking for ways to help increase staff knowledge in order to provide better and safer care for our patients. She has participated in several different initiatives unit- and service line-wide. She helped update and organize a unit Preceptor Academy. This is a class for new preceptors, to help acclimate to preceptor expectations on our unit, as well as give them tools for how to precept nurses to the unit. This received amazing reviews from our preceptors, and this nurse has already planned future classes. She also helped create and teach a brief class for all new orientees to our unit. This class goes over specific information that was felt needed while on orientation, but not always able to be covered during the shift by the preceptor. She schedules this class with each orientation group and has proven how it has increased orientee success rate on our unit.


She collaborates with fellow nurses, nursing assistants, providers, and leadership each time she works, in order to provide the best care possible for her patients. She is a great patient advocate and is able to efficiently and effectively communicate patient needs and concerns with the appropriate person. She has collaborated with our service line Advanced Practice Providers in creating education for our preceptors and orientees. She also serves as the point of contact on our unit when arranging students to come for their senior practicum. While on the RN and NCA Workflow Workgroup, she collaborated with nurses and leadership throughout our service line to ensure it will work for all three units.


This nurse exemplifies Swanson’s Theory of Caring each and every time she works, whether it be in her role as a care nurse, Preceptor, or Charge Nurse. She takes the time to be with her patients and gets to know them on a more personal level. She takes the time to go in patients’ rooms and teach other nurses and nursing assistants, as well as ensuring the patient and family are fully educated and involved in their care. She recognized the need for support of new nurses, especially throughout their first year on the floor, and assisted in creating and maintaining a buddy/mentorship program on the unit. This program pairs new nurses with a nurse who has been on the unit for longer than a year. It gives them a connection and someone to reach out to for whatever they need, whether it be work-related or not. It enables teamwork and caring for each other. She is a great advocate for nursing staff and patients, and because of her various roles on the unit, is able to have a positive impact on all.


There are many attributes to an exceptional nurse, including empathy, compassion, adaptability and knowledge, to name a few; this nurse exhibits all of these and more.

Courtney Stierwalt

Courtney Stierwalt


Clinical Lead
Cardiothoracic Surgery Stepdown Unit 3300
Duke University Hospital


Heart Center Award for Excellence in Cardiovascular Nursing in Recognition of Mary Ann Peter
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The DUKE HEART CENTER would like to express its admiration and heartfelt thanks to Duke Nurses for what they do every day to care for our patients, their loved ones and each other.
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Congratulations to Duke University Hospital’s 2021 Friends of Nursing Excellence Award Winners
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Congratulations to our students and alumni who are 2021 Friends of Nursing Excellence Award Winners



Friends of Nursing Gala 2021

Friends of Nursing Gala 2021

Friends of Nursing Gala 2021