Susan Bryson

Susan Bryson

Susan Bryson


Assistant Nurse Manager – Ambulatory/Procedural Division
Duke Clinical Staffing Department
Duke University Health System


Mary Ann & Robert H. Peter Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice


Susan joined the Duke Clinical Staffing Department in 2007, and has been an Assistant Nurse Manager since 2013.  She maintains her skills by working regularly on a cardiac unit.  She understands the intricacies of staffing across nursing divisions; she meets with new managers, to make sure they know how to request help from the Float Pool.  Susan genuinely cares for her team.  She encourages career advancements, including coaching Certified Medical Assistants to pursue nursing school.  She becomes a lifelong mentor for many.  She truly gets to know her employees – their favorite candy, and the best theme for cards or gifts.  During the pandemic, she rounded on her staff across a 60-mile radius, hand-delivering customized cards, special mementos and a warm smile.


As a leader, she demonstrates accountability to her direct reports and also holds them accountable for their actions.  She utilizes the Just Culture algorithm when reviewing incidents with staff members.  She keeps an open mind to obtain all the details of an incident to help determine the proper way to move forward.  She remains levelheaded and aspires for equality for all. She promotes diversity and teamwork by applying a lens of opportunity and grace to every situation and bringing out the best in those around her.

Annually, we conduct a Skills Blitz for our department of 500 team members.  During the pandemic, we met challenges in not being able to validate skills in person.  Susan researched how the virtual format could be beneficial to our team members.  She hastily began to partner with CEPD and the champions of our department to develop practical scenarios for diabetes management, cardiac rhythm review, JCAHO documentation quiz, and more.  She developed an interactive, comprehensive, virtual Skills Blitz for the Ambulatory/Procedural Float Pool Nurses and Certified Medical Assistants. This was a major success for the department and continues to be utilized today!


She holds a master’s degree in nursing and a certification as a Nurse Manager/Leader.  Our department benefits from her versatility and knowledge of both the inpatient and ambulatory settings.  She finds creative ways to incorporate her wisdom and expertise to those she serves by sharing relevant content on subjects ranging from statistics to policy and advocacy, in addition to understanding research design, human factors and methodology and analysis of clinical or systems errors.  Our coverage map – and required competencies – are constantly expanding, from oncology, cardiac, outpatient therapies to navigating specific protocols and constructing new departments; she rapidly identifies the necessary core competencies and assesses learner gaps to develop our team to meet the needs of the vast array of populations we serve.

The nominee genuinely cares for her team and strives to show gratitude for them in every exchange, interaction, heartbeat and fiber of her existence.  She constantly counsels and mentors our young team of Certified Medical Assistants (CMAs) to pursue nursing school.  She provides a recommendation,  checks in with them on their progress, encourages study groups and connections with other colleagues that have endured the same process.


The nominee is a transformational leader, constantly pursuing strategies to deliver the utmost patient care.  She is always in pursuit of quality improvement and shows others how to lead a cohesive, motivated team.  Her direct reports look to her for guidance on policy and counsel in their personal lives.  Currently, she is working with an innovative team to pilot Virtual Nursing.  The nominee leaps to any initiative that will enhance patient safety and satisfaction and nursing efficiency.  The nominee also recognizes and celebrates the diverse talents of our team.  I recall rounding with the nominee, and an employee was upset that the patient felt discouraged about her post-chemotherapy appearance.  The nominee knew of the employee’s background in photography.  She recognized the moment and encouraged the employee to speak with the patient privately about taking their picture.  The nominee stated, “Maybe you can give the patient a glimpse of the beauty we see in her.”  Initially, the patient as hesitant, but once she saw the picture, the patient was illuminated with joy.  The patient was forever grateful and thankful for the employee’s gestures.  The nominee has a way of making those around her feel extraordinary by restoring confidence.


Daily, the nominee collaborates with managers and leaders across DUHS to allocate resources to the departments with the highest operational need.  Without her careful oversight and depth in knowledge to learn the intricate details of each nursing division, and understand the unit culture, departments would not receive adequate assistance, in the midst of a callout, to provide sufficient patient care.  She partners with various local agencies to volunteer her knowledge and skills to serve the community.

Weekly, the nominee works on the cardiac units to maintain her clinical skills; she strongly believes nursing is a lifelong commitment to staying abreast of clinical skills and teaching patients, families and students about health promotion.  She has been recognized by her peers of cardiac nurses as a teacher –thoroughly reviewing medication reconciliation for duplicate medications or educating patients on side effects and post-operative complications.  She provides just-in-time teaching to students and newer nurses by reiterating how policy drives our practice, yet empowers them to use their critical thinking skills to map out the patient’s plan of care.


The nominee has led her team through some of the most radical and turbulent times, especially during the pandemic.  When many nurses were fearful of not being employed or skeptical due to the drop in census, she worked tirelessly to have them cross-trained to inpatient areas and expand their skills, which gave them reassurance.  Her faith nor confidence in DUHS never wavered; in fact, it caused her to be innovative and elevated her communication skills.  She possesses the innate ability to connect with team members in an indescribable manner; she rounded on each employee despite a 60-mile radius hurdle.  Her tenacious spirit and presence offered encouragement, from hand-delivered customized cards, expressions of love, to little mementos and a warm smile that eased any pain and worry the team experienced.  For Certified Medical Assistant week, the nominee always ensured the team felt a sense of belonging and value.  She celebrated their birthdays, conducted staff meetings for them and when they endured any hardships, she was the first to respond.  I recall a team member was involved in a car accident; the nominee was off, but made it her personal goal to visit the employee, providing hope and restoration during the most unfortunate time.  I recall the nominee saying, “I’m here, I promise you I will not leave you.”  These words sent chills through my body; everyone deserves a supervisor this supportive.


The nominee represents the values of DUHS.  She has been instrumental in bringing unity among our team, creating boundless relationships with families, patients and peers and leaders across this institution.  She leads by example, with gentle soothing words and attentiveness for others.  Her wisdom and leadership qualities have impacted generations to pursue lifelong professional growth.  Her heart is as reassuring as her bright and welcoming smile.  We are fortunate to have her as a leader within our organization.  I could not think of a more deserving candidate.


Friends of Nursing Gala 2021

Friends of Nursing Gala 2021

Friends of Nursing Gala 2021