Uma Kalagnanam

Uma is known for her teamwork and calm demeanor that fosters positive energy amongst the staff. With over 30 years of extensive clinical experience, Uma consistently rises to the challenges of care delivery as it changes each day. She leads one of the first units to implement the Duke Quality System at DRH and has leaned into A3 thinking to improve processes on the unit and across the hospital. Her service and dedication to the department and this institution have resulted in a high-performing medical unit with exceptional quality.


She is a highly respected, qualified professional with 30 years of extensive clinical experience, combined with administrative oversight and staff leadership, resulting in a high-performing medical unit with exceptional quality and service standards. The past year has been challenging, and she has responded and led — and continues to lead — her team through this very complex pandemic. She is passionate about supporting her staff through challenging times. She is a constant presence on the unit during all shifts. Throughout the COVID pandemic, as her unit pivoted to COVID care, she has been there to listen to the worries and fears. She has been a leader from the front — helping her nurses take care of COVID patients, in addition to working to advocate for resources behind the scenes. Her nurses know that she won’t ask of them anything she wouldn’t do for herself.


She and her medical director partnered to implement a dyad leadership model, which was the first unit within DRH to do this. This model improved communication and teamwork between the nursing and medical staff. The medical director wrote: “I cannot imagine a better nurse manager to collaborate with in growing a new unit into the great unit we have now. Thank you for your leadership and partnership the last several years and even more so during the COVID apocalypse!” She consistently sets high standards for herself and her staff; but more than this, she invests the time in helping her nurses grow to meet those standards. Over the past four years, this has paid dividends, with many of the initial new grad nurses advancing up the clinical ladder to become Charge Nurses and moving to other roles, such as cardiac, stroke and ICU nursing, because she supported their growth and goals.


When faced with decision for unit to become the unit caring for COVID-19 patients, she accepted this responsibility. She pulled her team together to plan for this challenge. She developed and implemented a plan to prepare the staff emotionally and clinically. Carts were strategically placed in the halls with supplies so that they were accessible to staff and others who needed them, versus having to go to one central location. Her staff recognized her recently with a bulletin Board titled “Your impact is as abundant as the stars.” She consistently rises to the challenges of changing care delivery. She leads one of the first units to implement the Duke Quality System at DRH and has leaned into A3 thinking to improve processes on the unit and across the hospital. She embraced inpatient teleheatlh during COVID, helping to implement iPad-facilitated visits, iPad family calls, and patient monitoring using iPads.


She collaborated with medical staff partners to help implement telemedicine utilizing the iPad solution to support communication with COVID-19 patients and their families during their hospital stays. As critical and busy as it was when we were faced with COVID-19, another hospital asked if they could come to her unit to learn, and she — without hesitation — said yes. She proudly shared what she and her staff have learned and how they have organized the unit in response to the pandemic. She is a fantastic collaborator. In her dyad leadership role with the unit medical director, she is always willing to partner on initiatives to improve the care of patients and enhance team-based collaborations, including interprofessional rounds, joint leadership rounding, paging communication, education and, most recently, launching COVID clinical trials.


She is kind-hearted, thoughtful and an attentive listener. She is caring and has been with her staff since the beginning of the pandemic, advocating for the patients and the staff. She advocated that windows be placed in the patient rooms, so that the patients could be visualized and to minimize the exposure of the staff. She promotes effective, open communication and visibility/availability to staff to facilitate staff engagement. One of her staff members wrote, “Thank you for being you. Your calmness, understanding, dedication and caring spirit has carried this unit so far. We all see the hard work and long hours you put in to make sure your team is supported, heard and reach of all opportunities for growth and excellence. You strive to make us feel appreciated each and every day, and most of we want to show you all the appreciation we have for you.”


She is an inspiring leader who exemplifies outstanding leadership through dedication, courage and integrity.

Uma Kalagnanam

Uma Kalagnanam


Nurse Manager
General Medicine Unit 4-1
Duke Regional Hospital


Durham County Hospital Corporation Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice
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Congratulations to Duke Regional Hospital’s 2021 Friends of Nursing Excellence Award Winners



Friends of Nursing Gala 2021

Friends of Nursing Gala 2021

Friends of Nursing Gala 2021