Nurse of the Week: Nurse Carol Durham Nearly Died from Sepsis, Now She’s Helping Raise Awareness

Nurse of the Week: Nurse Carol Durham Nearly Died from Sepsis, Now She’s Helping Raise Awareness

Our Nurse of the Week is Carol Fowler Durham, 63, a professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Nursing who was diagnosed with sepsis in 2010. She was in the middle of a faculty meeting when she began violently shaking, but she didn’t understand what was wrong at the time. Now seven years later and fully recovered, Fuller is helping raise awareness about sepsis, the deadly condition that nearly killed her.

When Durham began to feel symptoms of sepsis, she didn’t realize that her body had launched an attack on itself. Confused by the reaction she was having, she left her meeting and drove herself home. Her condition later worsened and her husband, Stephen, drove her to the emergency room where she was placed behind a long queue of patients.

By the time Durham was seen by staff in the emergency room, she had a high fever and chills which was enough to admit her. Staff still didn’t recognize what her symptoms meant, allowing her condition to worsen overnight. After her blood pressure plummeted, her medical team finally realized that she had sepsis and was moving into septic shock, a condition with a high mortality rate.

“Sepsis occurs when a massive immune response to a bacterial infection gets into the blood,” Durham tells “The condition can quickly cause tissue damage, organ failure, or death.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1.5 million people get sepsis each year in the US and about 250,000 die from it.

Durham was finally taken to the intensive care unit where she received antibiotics to stave off her raging infection. She responded to the antibiotics and began to improve but doctors were never able to determine the cause of her sepsis. Now fully recovered, Durham has a passion to get the word out about the deadly condition and make medical professionals aware of how to recognize and treat sepsis.

Durham now speaks to groups around the country teaching health care audiences, publishers, medical simulation vendors, and others to recognize sepsis and how to fight it. Quick and proper intervention are key and Durham drives that message home every chance she gets.

To learn more about Carol Fowler Durham and her experience surviving septic shock and becoming an advocate for the dangerous condition, visit here.

Nurse of the Week: Kayla McMillan, Labor and Delivery Nurse Gifts Maternity Photo Shoots to Pregnant Mothers on Hospital Bed Rest

Nurse of the Week: Kayla McMillan, Labor and Delivery Nurse Gifts Maternity Photo Shoots to Pregnant Mothers on Hospital Bed Rest

Our Nurse of the Week is Kayla McMillan, 28, a labor and delivery nurse at the Duke Birthing Center in Durham who has been gifting maternity photo shoots to pregnant mothers on hospital bed rest. She was inspired by her own experience giving birth to her daughter, Emma, at just 25 weeks due to eclampsia.

Emma is now a healthy 1-year old, but McMillan remembers what it was like to have to cancel her baby shower and maternity photo shoot, fun things she had been looking forward to and things that usually accompany a normal pregnancy. McMillan tells

“It was really surreal just because I work in a place where things happen like this all the time. I am a nurse and I never thought something like that would happen to me. It’s humbling because now I can help moms in the same position that I was in.”

McMillan likes to practice photography as a hobby and decided she wanted to give something to mothers at Duke University Hospital who were going through something similar to what she experienced. She teamed up with co-worker Samantha Duncan to create their first maternity photo shoot in April for a mom confined to her hospital bed.

Duncan is in charge of hair and makeup for the women, while McMillan wheels them out into a beautiful courtyard on Duke’s campus for the photo shoots. The duo has since done six photo shoots, giving pregnant mothers on bed rest something to cherish from the difficult experience.

To learn more about McMillan’s career as a labor and delivery nurse and new hobby taking maternity photos for women on her unit, visit here.

Duke University School of Nursing Promotes Turn the Tide Rx Movement to End Opioid Epidemic

Duke University School of Nursing Promotes Turn the Tide Rx Movement to End Opioid Epidemic

Following the US Surgeon General’s call to action to end the national opioid epidemic through a movement called Turn the Tide Rx, the Duke University School of Nursing is taking steps to help promote it. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy launched the effort in August 2016, calling for healthcare providers to be educated on how to treat pain effectively without over-prescribing opioids and how to direct opioid users to alternate forms of treatment.

Opioid addiction has increased over the past 15 years, becoming a national epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 people per day died from opioid overdose in the US in 2016.

Duke’s School of Nursing is addressing the epidemic by hosting a discussion on how emergency healthcare providers can unite against opioid abuse.  Students from the accelerated bachelors of science in nursing (ABSN) program organized the event and hope it will be the first in a number of efforts to bring the Turn the Tide Rx movement to North Carolina.

The School of Nursing is focused on 21st century healthcare needs and preparing the next generation of transformational leaders in nursing. Two students from the ABSN program and members of Duke Emergency Nursing Students brought the idea for the Turn the Tide Rx discussion to the nursing Dean who was thrilled to support their idea. After being personally affected by the opioid epidemic, these students wanted to start spreading awareness and educating others on alternative pain management.

Turn the Tide Rx is a movement for the entire healthcare community, not just nurses. Duke is hopeful that their event will open up the conversations to begin reducing opioid abuse in North Carolina and across the country. To learn more about Duke Nursing’s efforts to end the opioid epidemic, visit here.

UNC Chapel Hill Announces Nilda Peragallo Montano as New School of Nursing Dean

UNC Chapel Hill Announces Nilda Peragallo Montano as New School of Nursing Dean

Last week, the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill inducted Nilda Peragallo Montano as the new dean of the School of Nursing. She brings immensely valuable experience from her work as a nursing professor in Australia and Chile before moving on to work at the University of Miami School of Nursing for 14 years.

After her long professional stint at the University of Miami, Montano said she wouldn’t have left the university without a good reason. UNC’s School of Nursing offers a great opportunity for her to work with an excellent nursing program. And she says, “This is a great University – historically, the first public university in the USA. It’s a privilege to be here.”

With a deep passion for teaching nursing skills to new students, she is also looking forward to the opportunity to be involved in research in an academic environment. UNC will allow her to do research to further her experience and knowledge without compromising her love for teaching. Montano values the social aspects of her new position just as much as the administrative aspects and values interacting with students, faculty, and researchers alike.

Megan William, a clinical assistant professor at the UNC School of Nursing for thirteen years, told, “To have a leader that has great vision come to our school at this point in time – when things (are changing) on a national level (with) potential changes in the Affordable Care Act – we don’t know what’s going to happen and we need a leader with vision.”

Montano brings a new level of experience and knowledge to the UNC School of Nursing, and the staff involved in bringing her on board believes she will be monumental in moving the nursing program forward. To learn more about Montano and her new position at UNC, visit here.

Duke University Nursing and Engineering Students Collaborate to Build and Refine Robot-Nurse

Duke University Nursing and Engineering Students Collaborate to Build and Refine Robot-Nurse

In the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak in 2014, the healthcare community is exploring and testing new technologies that can serve as alternatives to human contact to diminish the risk for providers to care for patients with infectious diseases. At Duke University, nursing and engineering students teamed up to collaborate on the building and refining of Trina, their first-generation Tele-Robotic Intelligent Nursing Assistant.

Duke’s robot project is funded by an $85,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The project began a year-and-a-half ago, not as an effort to replace nurses, but to create a safer environment for health care providers. When health care providers are faced with treating patients with infectious diseases, like Ebola, they must dress in multiple layers of protective clothing, wipe down their materials with bleach, and use multiple rooms. With the development of nurse-robots like Trina, healthcare providers and researchers hope to improve the process of treating patients with infectious diseases by allowing nurses and doctors to navigate a remote-controlled robot into another room, directing it to move the linens, take vital signs, and pass food and medications.

A few weeks ago, Duke students and staff tested Trina on a fake patient, Michele Kuszajewski, having Trina take the patient’s vital signs via a remote-control stethoscope. Michele recalls feeling scared when the robot-nurse was coming at her. The massive red mechanical robot resembles a science fiction character out of Transformers or The Jetsons with a gray wig and surgical cap on its head to give it some human-like elements. On the robot’s face is a tablet showing the human operator, similar to a Skype call. Robots are currently being used in hospitals to help doctors perform tasks with precision and flexibility during surgery, but the machines don’t move about a room or perform bedside tasks like preparing drinks and adjusting oxygen masks.

To improve the study, engineering students needed to understand the tasks that Trina needs to perform. Nursing students donned protective clothing in the nursing school’s simulation lab and simulated working with a patient with Ebola as engineering students watched and took notes through a glass window. After the nursing students were finished, an engineering student drove Trina into the lab to test her ability with tasks like delivering a red cup, a bowl, pills, and a stethoscope to Michele in a simulation setting.

Students conducting the study found Trina’s movements to be abrupt and clumsy. In the future, they hope to make Trina, or the next generation robot-nurse, more agile so that it can collect and test fluids and look more friendly and human-like. They also hope to create a better interface between the human and robot to make their work together more comfortable, especially for the patient.

“Emerging Leaders” Program Opens at Duke University School of Nursing

“Emerging Leaders” Program Opens at Duke University School of Nursing

In a partnership between the Duke University School of Nursing and Duke’s Learning & Organization Development (L&OD), 11 staff members from the Duke School of Nursing have been selected to begin a year-long curriculum of professional development and leadership classes as part of the new “Emerging Leaders” program starting this fall.

The 11 selected finalists represent a diverse cross-section of the School of Nursing departments and offices. At the program’s welcome reception, Keisha Williams, assistant vice president of Learning & Organization Development, told the participants to grow in a safe way and learn as much as they can over the course of the yearlong program. They’re expected to embrace the value of learning and view new ideas through a different lens to help find their strengths and developmental opportunities that will challenge them during the program.

Part of the program will include forming the participants into groups of “Action Learning Case Study Teams.” In their teams, they will work together to address specific challenges related to tracking graduates of the School of Nursing and building ideas for an MSN Preceptor engagement and recognition program. Requiring teamwork is also intended to build a network of staff leaders throughout the School of Nursing, allowing them to learn about each other’s jobs so they can go to each other for information and support.

Najla McClain, one of the program participants, says the “Emerging Leaders” program is an impressive investment in Duke’s School of Nursing staff, and she’s excited to be a part of the inaugural year.

The first “Emerging Leaders” class is comprised of the following 11 School of Nursing staff:

  • Jennifer Higgins, operations coordinator, Center for Nursing Research
  • Belinda Wisdom, senior program manager, Office of Global and Community Health Initiatives
  • Keysha Hall, senior staff assistant, Division III
  • Nora Harrington, admissions officer II
  • Najla McClain, senior program coordinator, MSN Program
  • Eric Bloomer, senior program coordinator, DNP Program
  • Raymond Brisson, simulation technology specialist
  • Libby Joyce, director, Office of Institutional Research
  • Chloe Hayim, senior financial aid counselor
  • Carla Nichols, information technology manager
  • Wendy Conklin, financial management analyst II

Listen to the Nursecasts Podcast on your Amazon Alexa or Echo

Launch the latest episode of Nursecasts on your smart speaker today or click below to listen online.


You have Successfully Subscribed!

Gain a better understanding of the current state of the US health care system and how it might impact your work and life.

You have Successfully Subscribed!