2022 AWARD WINNERS
Clinical Nurse II
Neurology/Oncology Unit 5-3
Duke Regional Hospital
DNP, NP-C, AACC, FAANP
Terri was interested in nursing back in high school, but chose another path. She worked at Durham County General Hospital as a Radiology Tech, then in industry for 25 years, retired and headed to nursing school because she wanted to make a difference. She has been a nurse for 10 years – all at Duke. The following story illustrates her calling and passion for nursing. Imagine you fall ill and require hospital care. At the same time, your wife of decades is already admitted as inpatient hospice. This nurse brings you to the floor from the Emergency Department, wheels your bed into your dying wife’s hospital room, lowers the rails, pushes the beds together, and your wife passes peacefully in your arms.
This nurse is committed to her team and supports a very strong group of nurses on the night shift. She is an integral support to newer nurses and is affectionately known as Mama [Name]. Her children may be grown, but as a second-career nurse retired from her first career, she is Mama to a diverse group of Nurses and Nursing Assistants she is proud to call colleagues. One night, a coworker was very busy with a deteriorating patient. Recognizing how busy her colleague was, she assumed care of that nurse’s patients, in addition to her assignment of five patients. Assuring that they were well cared for, this nominee passed medications and effectively cared for nine patients. Although one of the most significant stressors and fears for nurses is falling behind, this nurse’s love for her teammates shined and allowed that nurse to come back to an assignment where all the patients were attended to.
This nurse has a clinical standard second to none. As a new nurse, she quickly found her calling working with patients at the end of life and supporting loved ones during goals-of-care discussions. This nurse has eagerly sought out educational opportunities to include the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium. This nurse also spent countless hours preparing to take the hospice and palliative care certification; completing this certification required hundreds of hours of self-study and dedication. But she didn’t just stop there. This nurse then became a resource on the unit to teach others who wanted to care for this patient population. With grace, patience, thoughtfulness and a touch of humor, she has provided this educational gift to several nurses who have gone on to translate her high standard of care to their patients.
With the peaks of COVID over the many, many months, this nurse volunteered to float to the COVID unit and provide end-of-life care to COVID patients in need. She endlessly donned and doffed extensive PPE to make sure these patients received the care they needed, medications to ease symptoms and suffering, and a tender, soft-spoken heart that endured the heartbreak to answer the call of need.
As a new nurse, this nurse quickly found her niche in the areas of palliative and end-of-life care. She sought out opportunities for growth by working extra hours at Duke’s Hospice Pavilion. As this nurse cultivated her knowledge, she brought this back to her team, sharing new knowledge and discoveries. She was offered a full-time opportunity at Hospice and eventually returned to her original family a short time later. This nurse has continued as a Palliative Care and End-of-Life Champion. She is a subject matter expert as inpatient hospice has grown on the unit. This nurse participated in policy development and consistent standards of care with Hospice at the Pavilion. She became an unofficial liaison between the inpatient hospice physician group and unit nurses, translating the care needs of these patients so that they received the best care. This nurse identified an educational need for nurses around the end-of-life medication and symptom management, developed education around this, and assisted in providing this to her colleagues. As a result, the physician group recognized her for these efforts, as it improved outcomes of symptom management, which contributes to patient comfort.
This nurse completed countless shifts on the COVID unit. Through her efforts, we were able to bring a true hospice status and level of care to this patient population. Patients were discharged and readmitted on hospice status. With this, the physician support became the hospice doctors, and the families received all the benefits hospice has to offer, including bereavement support.
The COVID unit team recognized this nurse: “This nominee floats to our unit regularly to take care of patients on comfort care who also have COVID-19. We appreciate her expertise every time she comes to help. For example, I had a patient who expired when she wasn’t working on our floor, and she still came downstairs to help me do everything that needed to be done after the fact. This nurse is a fantastic nurse with a tremendous skill set, and we are always thankful to have her on our floor.”
There is no better theory of nurse to fit the superhuman care this nurse provides than Swanson’s Theory of Caring. If there ever was a model for this, it must have been this nurse. Sitting with COVID patients, guiding loved ones through goals-of-care considerations, and maintaining belief is what a dedicated professional like this nurse provides. When I think of Swanson’s Theory of Caring, I can’t help but also look at it from the perspective of the way we care for our fellow nurses and health care team members. This nurse provides the same diligence, warmth, care and presence to her team. We all know this goes a long way with the stressors of the pandemic. Hand in hand with new nurses, this nurse says, “I am here with you,” “I will help you,” and “You are not alone.” New nurses frequently recognize her for her strength, comfort, and reassurance.
Retired from industry and brought to nursing as a second career, it was a slam dunk for the world!