2023 AWARD WINNERS
BSN, RN, CCTC
Inpatient Transplant Coordinator – Adult Liver
Duke Transplant Center
Duke University Hospital
DNP, NP-C, AACC, FAANP
Commonly referred to as the glue that holds our Inpatient Liver Transplant Team together, Debra brings 45 years of nursing experience to our team, where she has been a Transplant Coordinator since 2010. She has worked as a Transplant Nurse since 1985, and has maintained specialty certification as a Clinical Transplant Coordinator for more than 25 years. Debra co-authored the patient education Chapter for the “Core Curriculum for Transplant Nurses.” And last year, she made a presentation to our Advanced Practice Providers about changes in allocation policies for donated livers. Most importantly, Debra is dedicated to patients and their caregivers; she ensures that they understand their post-transplant “new normal” and are able to take care of themselves once they leave the hospital.
She goes above and beyond to ensure that patients have the resources they need to be successful after their transplant, whether that is helping families access community resources for transplant recipients or helping them with financial assistance paperwork. In the early COVID-19 pandemic when visitors were not allowed in the hospital setting, she spent time providing updates to patient’s loved ones, including them in care planning as much as possible.
This nurse has held herself to a high professional standard. She earned her BSN from the University of Akron (Ohio); and she has maintained specialty certification as a Clinical Transplant Coordinator (CCTC) through the American Board for Transplant Certification (ABTC) since 1997. She has more than 45 years of nursing experience, and has been a Transplant Nurse since 1985. She has written or co-authored seven publications and has been invited to make numerous presentations. Recent presentations include: “Caring for Our Caregivers,” “Liver Transplant for Dieticians,” Actualizing Successful Transplants: A Transplant Coordinator’s Perspective,” “Living Organ Donation,” and “Liver Allocation: Current UNOS Policy.”
She has worked to continually develop and improve the patient education materials, ensuring that they are up-to-date and easy to use. She also created a test that patients and their caregiver take together prior to being discharged from the hospital, to ensure they can recall the essential information they have been taught. This process has worked so well that it was replicated in our Kidney Transplant Program. Recently, she worked to have the test translated into Spanish to ensure that all patients had access to the same resources.
As the inpatient liver transplant coordinator, she rounds with our unique multidisciplinary team daily to provide the highest quality care for patients who are awaiting, or have undergone, liver transplantation. As Attending Physicians, Fellows, Residents and Advanced Practice Providers rotate on and off of the service, she is a constant – one who knows the nuances of each patient. She ensures that our team considers not just the patient’s medical needs, but also the socioeconomic factors that impact their care and the needs of their families and caregivers.
In a less official, but equally important capacity, she is a trusted friend and mentor to many in our program. She is always available to lend a listening ear or share a hug after a stressful experience or the loss of a patient. She has supported many in our department through transitions as new graduate providers and from fellowship to Attending Physician roles.
She provides all of the required post-transplant education to patients and their caregivers after their transplant. She uses her decades of experience to ensure that patients understand their post-transplant “new normal” and are able to take care of themselves once they leave the hospital. She develops such a strong rapport with patients and their families that is not uncommon for them to ask when they will see her again when they are readmitted to the hospital! Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, when visitors were not allowed in the hospital setting, she spent time providing updates to patients’ loved ones, including them in care planning as much as possible.
She does not stop at sharing her expertise with our patients and their families. She has offered education sessions to transplant nurses as part of the Transplant Resource Team for Leadership and Education (TRTLE) program and to our APP team as a speaker for our monthly APP Grand Rounds. In 2022, she led a CME session for APPs about the changes to the liver allocation process. She trains and mentors new transplant coordinators and is always willing to assist and answer questions when needed.
This nurse truly has an integral role in our Liver Transplant Program and exemplifies Duke’s values. As her retirement approaches and we celebrate her incredible nursing career, it is apparent how much she does for our team and how irreplaceable she truly is. I can think of no one more deserving of a Friends of Nursing Award.