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Staff Spotlight: Stacey Bennett, MSN

Friday, August 12, 2016

While some people might balk at working 12 hours in a row, for Stacey Bennett, MSN, that period is less than half of a typical work day. For this week’s staff spotlight interview, Bennett talks to us about getting through 27-hour shifts, what she wishes more patients knew about critical care, and running half marathons in her spare time.

How long have you been at Duke? How long have you been at the Neurology Department?
I started at Duke July 12, 1999 (so coming up on 17 years this summer). I joined the Neurology Dept May 1, 2005 as an ACNP in the Neuro ICU (almost 11 years)

What are your responsibilities within the Department? What does a typical day for you look like?
I provide direct patient care to patients admitted to the Neuro ICU (8 East in the DMP). A typical day for me begins around 7 a.m. with sign out from the off-going house officer, rounds from 8 a.m. -1 p.m., and continued patient care through the night until the next morning. I’m responsible for providing care for post-operative NSU patients as well as vascular, stroke, and general neurology patients. Our team is never capped, we are only limited by ICU bed space availability. As such we are heavily involved with patient flow from unit to unit in the form of admissions and transfers. My ICU colleagues and I are also responsible for responding as the team lead to the RRTs and Code Blue for the 8th floor of the DMP.

How did you decide to become an acute care nurse practitioner?
I knew going into nursing school as an undergraduate that I wanted to become a NP. I attended UNC-CH where I earned my BSN and then worked at both Duke and Wake Med in the MICU before enrolling in the Graduate Nursing Program at Duke in 2002. I love critical care nursing and I was very excited to have the opportunity to attend one of the only ACNP Programs in the country. I earned an MSN in both Acute Care and Cardiovascular Care completing both programs in December of 2004.

Your work often involves 27-hour shifts. What’s the best and worst thing about working for more than a day at a time?
Critical care is a fast paced and intense area of practice. That being said sometimes patients are so acutely ill it can feel like minutes take hours, and hours drag on for days. For me the best and worst parts are one in the same, seeing the job through and helping patients and their families through a time of crisis that often results in life-altering experiences.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The people I work with, my teammates, the NPs, nurses, physicians, pharmacists, and respiratory therapists that make up our core care team. I am blessed to be surrounded by so many talented and caring individuals.

What’s one thing you wished your patients knew about acute care?
There’s two things I wish they knew. I often wish my patients and their families had discussed end-of-life decision making/goals of care prior to becoming critically ill. Even the patients who present with Health Care Power of Attorney paperwork and a Living Will, have not really discussed in depth what quality of life they would find acceptable. The neurologic emergencies and critical care illnesses I frequently see can leave patients devastated, or at a vastly different state of function, and I often see family members struggling emotionally to make treatment decisions. Most patients and families are not emotionally or financially prepared to deal with the long term rehabilitation processes involved with recovering from a critical illness.

The second thing I wish they knew is that we really do want them to come back and visit us when they are well. It is so exciting for our staff to “meet” our patients again when they are well enough to return for clinic visits. It reaffirms the time and effort we put into helping our patients heal.

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department?
The thing I am most passionate about is being a mother. I have a four year daughter and cherish every moment I get to spend with her. In between tea parties and finger painting, I also enjoy gardening and long distance running. I’m planning to run in the Raleigh Rock and Roll Half Marathon coming up April 10. I also occasionally get to go bass fishing with my husband and help him with our custom fishing rod business, Skeet’s Custom Rods.