Shelley Thompson

Shelley Thompson

Shelley Thompson


Nurse Practitioner – Cardiology
Heart Center
Duke University Hospital


Wilma Minniear Award for Excellence in Nursing Mentorship


An exemplar for nursing career progression, Shelley earned her nursing diploma in 1990, has been a Nurse Practitioner with the Duke Heart Center since 2006; and completed her DNP in 2019.  Her doctoral research focused on palliative care in the heart failure population.  Patients and their loved ones watch the interactive video series, Palliative Care for Me, together, which gives them a framework for difficult conversations.  More than 200 Duke patients have participated in the program, with increased referrals to Palliative Care for management of symptoms, including chronic pain and depression, and for assistance with advanced directives and goals of care.  A fierce patient advocate, she researches which pharmacies can fill blister packs, and fights for prior authorizations so that her patients can be on the best medications.


This nurse holds herself to a high standard of honesty and integrity.  She creates an environment of transparency in her work, which fosters honesty.  This nurse is widely recognized as a skilled clinician who approaches all situations with a sense of candor.  This nurse is the first to admit an area of opportunity and explores with her colleagues ways to improve in the future.  This nurse also dedicates her time to process improvement when an area of opportunity arises.  As a former team leader for this nurse, I could always trust that if this nurse recognized an opportunity for improvement, she would frame the discussion with professionalism and timeliness.  I, and many others, know this nurse will always choose to do what is “right” rather than what is convenient.  This nurse leads the way in how to handle conflict and have difficult conversations.


This nurse leads the way in demonstrating a commitment to personal and professional practice.  She has a passion for education and learning.  Since becoming a Duke Nurse Practitioner 16 years ago, this nurse has achieved a post-master’s certificate as a Family Nurse Practitioner and earned a doctoral degree in Nursing from the Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON).  This nurse serves as a mentor for those who are interested in achieving the same academic success.  This nurse shares knowledge and resources with students both as a Preceptor for Nurse Practitioner students; she has been on faculty at DUSON for 13 years.  This nurse understands the complex process learners endure and is a model to colleagues who are learning to be effective Preceptors themselves.  This nurse has a passion for effective secondary palliative care in the heart failure population and has been involved in research and quality improvement in this space.  This nurse has also published and is frequently on the podium speaking on local and national platforms.  This nurse also shares her expertise with bedside nursing staff whenever there is a need.  She is a consummate advanced heart failure nurse, and I am proud to tell colleagues across the health system and the country, “I work with this nurse!”


She recently completed her DNP, where her final thesis focused on Palliative Care in the heart failure population by using the program Palliative Care for Me, otherwise known as PCforME.  This interactive video series was given to patients to help them better understand how palliative care can help them in more ways than just at end of life.  Videos were watched by not only patients, but by their family members, too.  By having family also watch the video, this allowed families to start having the difficult conversation and start thinking about end of life/goals of care.  Her initial findings were published in American Journal of Palliative Care, titled “Impact of Palliative Care Education Module in Patients with Heart Failure.”  After having a positive impact on patients, she was able to obtain grant money and continue to partner with Palliative Care and continue to show the video series to heart failure patients.  More than  200 patients have watched the PCforMe Videos.  As a result of her continued work, we have been able to provide heart failure patients follow-ups with Palliative Care for continued management of heart failure symptoms, advanced directives/goals of care, chronic pain and depression.


This nurse is oftentimes described as an effective collaborator.  She has been a member of the Duke Health and Cardiology Teams for many years and has served as research trial team member, Preceptor, Team Leader (six years) and Mentor for many students and colleagues.  She is articulate.  Even under stress, this nurse is calm and effective with her words and actions.  She understands the value of effective communication between multidisciplinary teams, and is always willing to educate bedside nurses about various heart failure topics.  As a fellow Nurse Practitioner, I have taken over care of the patients who this nurse has cared for.  It is not uncommon to have patients describe this nurse as, “the best Nurse Practitioner I have ever had.”  Patients also remember this nurse and will ask about her if they return to the hospital for future admissions.  She seeks to understand patients and their barriers to optimal health status.  She cares for her colleagues the same way; before the pandemic, this nurse volunteered her home for gatherings for the team.  I would describe this nurse as one of the most caring individuals I have ever had the opportunity to work with.


Swanson’s Theory of Caring is based on the idea that nurses demonstrating they care about patients is as important to patient well-being as the clinical activities provided.  It considers and cares for the whole person and is the foundation for better healing and better care.  I believe my nominee does just this.  She spends quality time with patients and is a fierce patient advocate, whether it’s spending time answering questions of their diagnosis/treatment, to researching pharmacies that can fill blister packs, to standing up to insurance companies in getting prior authorizations approved so her patient can be on the best medication.  Not only does she do this, she also makes sure that patients are holistically cared for in more areas than just Cardiology.  She continues to work with Palliative Care in providing appropriate education on end-of-life/ chronic-symptoms management.


I believe that my nominee exhibits the Duke Values of Integrity, Excellence, Teamwork and Collaboration in her ongoing efforts of providing education to heart failure patients on palliative care, mentoring NP students and APPs, upholding the Swanson’s Theory of Caring, and by always fiercely advocating for the patient and their overall care and well-being.


Friends of Nursing Gala 2021

Friends of Nursing Gala 2021

Friends of Nursing Gala 2021