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Work in nursing? Get to know Melanie Duffy's workHere are five thing to know about this midstate professional recognized nationally for her work

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Melanie Duffy with NACNS 2015-16 President Peggy Barksdale and Sue B. Davidson.
Melanie Duffy with NACNS 2015-16 President Peggy Barksdale and Sue B. Davidson. - (Photo / )

If you are involved in the health care industry, you may have heard of Melanie Duffy. She was recognized last week by the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists for her extra service to the organization and the industry at large.

Duffy is a clinical nurse specialist in critical care at Harrisburg-based PinnacleHealth System and adjunct faculty in several nursing programs, including the one at York College.

She received the Sue B. Davidson Service Award from the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists, or NACNS, at its annual conference last week in Philadelphia. Duffy helped write legislation that set the criteria now used to measure whether someone can be titled a clinical nurse specialist.

“It was a real honor for me to receive this award,” Duffy said. “I was really surprised and overwhelmed that they decided that I would be the recipient.”

But, did you know that she also rides a motorcycle, has spoken at a conference in Australia and is involved in legislation pertaining to clinical nurse specialists?

Here are five things you might not know about Duffy:

Before she was a nurse…

Before Duffy was a nurse, she was an educator. She originally majored in foreign languages, and was certified to teach it in grades K-12. At the time, schools weren’t hiring foreign language teachers, so she worked at a bank for a few years before she decided to go back to school for nursing.

Motorcycle rider

When she’s not at work, she’s spending time with her husband, whom she described as “encouraging” when it comes to her career. They have many dogs and cats, all rescued.

Both of them ride motorcycles, and every year they travel to Sturgis, S.D., known for its annual motorcycle rally.

Primary editor of new book

Duffy was recently the primary editor of a book, "Clinical Nurse Specialist Toolkit, A Guide for the New Clinical Nurse Specialist," which is in its second edition. 

Legislative involvement

As chairwoman of the legislative/regulatory committee NACNS, Duffy is involved in legislation pertaining to clinical nurse specialists.

She helped write legislation that set the criteria now used to measure whether someone can be titled a clinical nurse specialist. Part of that criteria includes meeting education requirements, taking accredited courses and passing an exam.

She’s currently involved with new legislation that would broaden the scope of practice for clinical nurse specialists. The bill outlines what they will be able to do legally in Pennsylvania.

“It really removes any barriers to practice that are currently in place so that as a CNS, I will be able to practice to the full extent of my education,” Duffy said.

By removing barriers, clinical nurse specialists would be able to order lab tests for patients, as well as order durable medical equipment, such as walkers.

“Right now we need a physician order to do that,” Duffy said.

The current legislation would also open doors for clinical nurse specialists to perform physical exams on school students as well as health exams for companies. For instance, if a corporation wanted to operate a health clinic for its employees, a clinical nurse specialist would be able to teach employees, give flu shots and focus on preventive interventions.

There’s been no movement on this bill because the current budget impasse has put a stop to most legislation, according to Duffy.

“Just say yes”

As a nurse for an estimated 30 years, Duffy has some words of wisdom for new clinical nurse specialists. First – be patient with your career, especially if you’re new. With any new job, it takes at least six months to really figure out what you’re supposed to do and to truly learn, Duffy said.

Second – just say yes.

“The other thing that I still tell people, if somebody gives you an opportunity to do something new or different, just say yes,” Duffy said. “That’s how I’ve been able to do so many different things in my career, because I said yes.”

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