Breast Surgical Oncology APPs Receive Presidential Award

Duke Presidential Award

From Left to Right: Heather Smith, MSN, WHNP-BC; Jill Barbour, MSN, WHNP-BC; Mary Enders, RN; Elyn Inman, PA-C; Bernadette Labriola, MSN, FNP-C, RN; Vincent Price, PhD, Duke University President; Kathryn Trotter, DNP, FAANP; Jaclyn White, MSN, AGPCNP-BC, RN; Samantha Kwan Verruto, PA-C; Sheeva Marvdashti, PA-C, MHS. (photo by Les Todd)

In a ceremony held February 25 at Page Auditorium, the advanced practice providers (APPs) of the Duke Health Breast Surgical Oncology Team collectively received a Presidential Award for exceptional service to the Duke community during the 2018-2019 academic year.

The annual employee appreciation award is given to select individuals or groups working in Duke University/Duke University Health System that “demonstrate a commitment to Duke’s values of respect, trust, inclusion, discovery, and excellence.”

Shelley Hwang, MD, MPH, chief of Breast Surgical Oncology and co-leader of the Women’s Cancer Research Program at Duke Cancer Institute, together with the Duke Breast Surgery team, nominated the APPs: nurse practitioner Jaclyn White MSN, AGPCNP-BC, RN; nurse practitioner Bernadette Labriola, MSN, FNP-C, RN; nurse clinician Mary Enders, BSN, RN, OCN, CBCN; physician assistant Samantha Kwan Veruto, PA-C; physician assistant Sheeva Marvdashti, PA-C, MHS; nurse practitioner Kathryn Trotter, DNP, FAANP, FAAN; physician assistant Elyn Inman, PA-C; nurse practitioner Jill Barbour, MSN, WHNP-BC; and nurse practitioner Heather Smith, MSN, WHNP-BC.

APP "SWAT" TEAM: “So proud of our amazing team! Check out the shades!” wrote Shelley Hwang, MD, MPH, sharing, on Twitter, this fun photo of the group (missing one awardee) honored with a Presidential Award.

Hwang referred to the APPs as “a highly accomplished, specialty trained 'SWAT' team whose mission is to provide exceptional and empathetic care for our patients” — from the patients’ first point of contact in the clinic to the end of treatment and through survivorship.

“Our patients and multidisciplinary colleagues truly see our APPs as surgeon extenders,” wrote Hwang, in support of their nomination. “The nine incredible women who make up the Duke Breast Surgery APP team form a strong link between patients and the health system, and provide both high quality care and strong advocacy for patients who face the frightening diagnosis of breast cancer… Our APPs are a truly essential part of patient healing.”

Hwang also drew attention to the team’s professionalism; how they’ve worked to maximize patient safety and increase clinical efficiency, participated as speakers at local and national meetings, and served on the planning committee for DCI’s highly successful annual “What’s Best for Breasts” community outreach event.

And she credited APP team leads physician assistant Meg Leddy, PA-C, and nurse practitioner Kara Threatt, MSN, ANP, RN, as well as clinic nurses Markita Ellerbe, LPN, Angela Androes, RN, and Kristi Hendricks, RN, for being “instrumental in building trust, cohesion and mutual respect within the team.”

"We also wish to acknowledge Jennifer Gallagher; nurses Debra LaRaia, Andrea Chamberlain, Melissa Manning; and APPs Nichole Brooks and Lauren Deruyter, who are all part of the plastic surgery division, but nevertheless critically important members of the breast cancer care team," Hwang added.

Vincent Price and Bernadette Labriola
Duke University President Vincent Price, PhD, presents the Presidential Award for the APPs to Bernadette Labriola, MSN, FNP-C, RN. (photo by Les Todd)

In her letter of support for the nomination, Jennifer Plichta, MD, MS, breast cancer surgeon and assistant professor of Surgery, praised the APP team for their “unparalleled” flexibility and commitment to patient care, which, she noted, was carried out with “a smile and love in their hearts.”

“While I certainly try to make myself available to my patients at any time, it is simply not feasible to always respond as quickly as needed, and without a doubt I know that I can always count on our APPs to be there when we need them,” she added.

In her letter of support, Laura Rosenberger, MD, breast cancer surgeon and assistant professor of Surgery, wrote how nurse practitioners and physician assistants “are so unified in the mission of caring for patients, they may be mistaken for one of us, i.e. “My visit is always great with these two doctors.””

Breast cancer surgeons Rachel Greenup, MD, MPH (an associate professor of Surgery) and Lola Fayanju, MD, MA, MPHS (an assistant professor of Surgery) both gave shout-outs to the APPs on social media.

“We are incredibly grateful for this outstanding team, and the nurses and staff that support our patients,” wrote Greenup.

"So proud of the phenomenal Breast Surgery APPs we have the privilege to call colleagues," wrote Fayanju.

“It’s an honor to receive this prestigious award,” said Trotter, who’s been part of the APP team for 10 years and serves as associate clinical professor of Nursing and lead faculty for the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner major at the Duke University School of Nursing. “It’s a recognition of the complexity of clinical care and the teamwork involved, even beyond the APPs.”