Susan D. Bruce

FON Photos edited x Bruce

Susan D. Bruce


Clinical Nurse Specialist

Duke Cancer Center Raleigh


Nurse Research Mentor Award


Susan has been a nurse for almost 44 years, and a Duke Nurse since 1990.  In 2017, she received a Friends of Nursing Award – the Evelyn Morgan Award for Excellence in Oncology Nursing Practice.  As a Clinical Nurse Specialist, Susan encourages colleagues to work on Quality Improvement projects, or projects that they can submit to their professional organization as an abstract for presentation.  She offers a class to anybody who is interested and, so far, she has had a 100-percent acceptance rate with the Duke Raleigh submissions.  Susan says that it’s a great feeling to know that she is helping younger nurses who may have never experienced going to their annual conference to attend their very first time as a presenter.


The candidate has worked within the DUHS nursing department with a focus in oncology for a couple of decades.  In her advanced practice nursing role as a Clinical Nurse Specialist, she role-models how nurses are the most trusted professionals as she talks with patients and their families with respect and honesty regarding the journey they are traveling.  She mentors staff to listen to the patient and the patient’s family, to understand their lived experience, and to guide them through their oncology journey while gaining a sense of their new normal.


The candidate is nationally certified in her professional specialty, has served as an editor for the specialty national organization newsletter, served on local chapter and national boards of directors.  She recently had a poster and podium presentation accepted for the upcoming national conference in April 2022.  Even during COVID, she has mentored staff to perform evidence-based (EBP) projects and research to promote improvements in patient care and staff work culture.  She has served on the Duke Health Institutional Review Board.  She has served as a coach in our Duke Nursing “Mitigating the Madness” Evidence-Based Practice Workshop Series.  She has held evening specialty organization chapter meetings to facilitate nurse engagement in lifelong learning and dissemination of their EBP implementations.


This candidate has worked on national teams evaluating current oncology nursing practice for symptom management.  She recently co-led a research feasibility study exploring physical activity preferences in men newly diagnosed with cancer prior to initiating cancer treatment.  Through a baseline assessment of the patient’s current physical status, the research team would discuss their engagement in physical activities prior to treatment to increase functional capacity and reduce symptom burden.  As part of the research team and site champion, she mentored clinic nurses in research team roles:  screening, informed consent, data collection and intervention training, and dissemination of results.  She is currently leading another team of nurses in two settings, some new to research roles in their clinical work, to perform a research study using a new web-based physical activity tracker in men and women undergoing cancer treatment.  As the team lead, she talks with her team to understand what is working well or not to improve the research process.  An additional aspect of completing the research process is to mentor the team in disseminating results of the research.


This candidate is a recognized leader within Duke Raleigh and the health system oncology network.  She recently brought together an interprofessional team to implement a standard workflow for the management of febrile neutropenia from presentation to the Emergency Department through hospitalization.  She has worked tirelessly on reducing Emergency Department presentation of fevers in patients undergoing treatment by improving their patient education.  New patients learn that they should present a “fever card” to any medical facility should they have a fever so they can receive appropriate urgent medical care.  As her work at Duke Raleigh was recognized in expediting care for these patients, meeting national benchmarks (recently published), it has been serving as a model interprofessional workflow for the health system.  This work is still ongoing, but illustrates that is takes a team to make system improvements for better patient care, use of hospital resources, and significant financial impact (cost savings with decreased length of stay if the patient is hospitalized).


This candidate is very welcoming of new graduate nurses and precepts nursing students from across the state.  She works with students in doctoral programs to teach them about all of the advanced practice nursing roles and how everyone works together in the team to improve patient care.  She has never been afraid to tackle a new problem or issue that could have a significant impact on improving patient care or work culture.  Yet, she knows how to take care of herself and discusses self-care to all oncology nursing staff at Duke Raleigh (and Duke Cancer Institute of Wake County).  Through COVID, the new bed tower at Duke Raleigh was coming open, with the current medical-surgical oncology unit being divided (medical staying; surgical moving to the new facility).  This candidate was responsible for helping train up staff for the opening, with many of them being new graduate nurses and new to oncology.  She developed a specialty boot camp a few years back to train new staff but recognized that this needed to be reworked to provide additional training.  Staff reported that they have felt supported from a training perspective.  This exemplar illustrates her dedication to nurses, nursing and oncology patients.


This candidate exemplifies the essence of mentoring research into practice, from clinical inquiry to conducting research and implementing practice improvements with the quest to always do it better for patient care.


Friends of Nursing Gala 2021

Friends of Nursing Gala 2021

Friends of Nursing Gala 2021