Community Health Corner: Duke-Johnson & Johnson Nurse Leadership Program fellows share experiences

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
By Claudia Graham, MBA, MPH

It was almost a year ago in May 2014 when the inaugural cohort of the Duke-Johnson & Johnson Nurse Leadership Program completed an important segment of their leadership journey.

Many of the 20-member cohort still maintain a close connection with each other and program faculty and staff. I corresponded with some recently and asked that they think back and share some of their thoughts.

Fellows were asked to share their overall impressions of their program experience. Responses included:

“The program was the greatest leadership training experience that I have ever had. It helped me to more effectively negotiate and collaborate with others in my field. I have more confidence and much more flexibility with changing situations at work. It broadened my way of processing things in a professional sense; I am a more forward thinker.” Cheryl Thaxton, RN, MN, CPNP, FNP-BC, CHPPN, nurse practitioner, Supportive & Palliative Care Team, Baylor Regional Medical Center, Grapevine, Texas

“The Duke-Johnson and Johnson Nurse Leadership fellowship provided a broad, yet deliberate exposure to the fundamental aspects of community leadership. The pace and resource variety allowed for individual learning styles and expanded learning in areas of needed growth.”Donna McLean, RN, MS, FNP, PORT Human Services, Facility Based Crisis Center, Greenville, N.C.

“Summed up in two words: excellent and informative!”  LaDonna C. Thomas, MSN, NP-C, VHA-CM, compensation and pension examiner, Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Durham, N.C.

“It was a fabulous program, stellar faculty, well thought out curricula, and very much engaged me as an adult learner. I found the support for my project timely and extremely helpful. The most important [thing] was building relationships and learning from my fellow fellows! I was sincerely grateful for the experience, and I draw from it on a daily basis and try and continue to grow towards my leadership vision for myself.” Carla Jolley MN, ARNP, ANP-BC, AOCN, CHPN, palliative care advanced practice nurse/coordinator of Palliative Care Consult Service, Whidbey General Hospital & Clinics, Coupeville, Wash.

“An extremely well-rounded educational experience with a group of outstanding nurse practitioner colleagues and was truly beyond my expectations. The friendships and connections that were established are truly exceptional and beneficial. I utilize things that I learned and experienced in the fellowship sessions daily. The speakers and the coaches were engaging and brought out new ideas to expand my ideas about health care applications and community care.” Angela B. Hammond, MSN, CRNP, CDE, primary/urgent care provider and diabetes educator, Department of Family Medicine, University Medical Center, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

In responding to a question about the program activities that provided the most benefit, the fellows generally named the one-on-one professional coaching sessions and workshops during which they came to know themselves better while understanding leadership styles — both their own and the people with whom they work. This self-awareness and understanding of others was fundamental to their leadership quest.

Katy Lanz, DNP, ACHPN, chief clinical officer, Aspire Health on recommending the program to others shared, “If you are looking for an environment where you are challenged to evaluate your leadership style, nurture your professional self and build a network of colleagues who have a similar interest….this is the program for you.”

Dawn McCabe, NP, primary care clinic supervisor, Craven County Public Health Department, would tell others considering applying to the program that it was the “most personally enlightening educational experience I have ever had. It has been nine months since I completed the Duke-Johnson & Johnson Nurse leadership experience, and I remain in contact with the other fellows from my cohort. This amazing group is truly changing the delivery of health care.”

Many fellows agree with Donna McLean, RN, MS, FNP, PORT Human Services, Facility Based Crisis Center, Greenville, N.C. when she says, “This is the first experience I’ve been part of that truly spoke to me as an individual. I was able to grow and tailor my leadership style, my patient practice and enhance my self-preservation strategies.” 

Carla Jolley, MN, ARNP, ANP-BC, AOCN, CHPN, palliative care advanced practice nurse/coordinator of Palliative Care Consult Service, Whidbey General Hospital & Clinics, believes, “It is a remarkable program, it is worth putting the effort into applying, and the return on investment of both personal and financial resources is phenomenal.“

Such testimonials and program compliments are representative of the discussions from many fellows, both alumni of the program and those active in the current cohort.

We are pleased that the program is viewed so favorably and considered so beneficial in achieving the program’s goals and objectives. Being a part of conducting this educational opportunity for such a deserving group is heartwarming and gratifying.

Claudia Graham is a training coordinator in the Division of Community Health. She coordinates theDuke-Johnson & Johnson Nurse Leadership Program and the Master of Health Sciences in Clinical Leadership program. Contact her at

Editor’s note: Community Health Corner provides an update on the latest happenings in the Division of Community Health. Community Health Corner appears once a month.