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APP Spotlight: Candace Boyette, FNP

Tuesday, November 26, 2019
C Boyette

For more than three decades, Candace Boyette, FNP, has treated patients of all ages and in settings including neurology, pediatrics, and women’s health. More recently, she’s taken on the role of a medically-based “sorting hat,” helping patients find research studies that fit their needs and advancing our ability to treat patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's, and other conditions. For this week’s “Spotlight” interview, Boyette talks to us about this work, why her research embodies hope for herself and for her patients, and why she loves the beauty and solitude of fly fishing.

What are your responsibilities within the Neurology Department? What does a typical day look like for you?
I have been with Duke Neurology 14 years. For the past 6 years my focus has been research. I have been a co-investigator on Alzheimer’s trials and am presently involved in 8 projects in the departments of Geriatric Medicine, Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, Ophthalmology, and Neurology.

I like to think of myself as a person who listens carefully to what patients and others tell me. I try to imagine what it’s like for them and I try to convey this back to them and to others. This is the essence of being a family nurse practitioner. I have done this for 35 years in a broad range of settings, neonatology, women’s health, adolescent medicine, pediatrics, and neurology.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
Research allows me to stay engaged in a very tenacious way. I am listening and looking for very specific factors that enhance my ability to recruit research participants. Once participants join us and become “co-researchers” this engagement allows me to dive into the essential details of managing team participation and work flow.

I amuse myself by imagining the sorting hat at Hogwarts which magically determines which of the four houses a participant or team member fits into. Since I am recruiting for many studies, as I’m speaking with prospective participants, I have opportunities to “sort” them into the studies that best meet their needs and ours. It’s a win win!

What’s the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part of my work is letting go at the end of the day. My attention is my strength and my weakness. I’m not sure I would have it any other way. We’re all waiting for a breakthrough. I remain continually optimistic.

What interesting studies are you involved with at the moment?
I am assisting neurosurgery in the “first in man” closed loop, bilateral dual deep brain stimulator for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. Subjects will be followed for three years for postoperative programming and testing to define clinical efficacy of the closed loop approach. This research includes both ordinary DBS stimulations as well as a recording system that simultaneously measures the DBS local evoked potential and/or local field potential responses. In Parkinson’s Disease after about four years of medical therapy, motor complications ensue and DBS becomes an excellent surgical option to treat the motor aspects of PD. Surgical results are often dramatic, with significant improvements in motor function and reduction in motor complications.

What’s one thing you’d like more patients (or their families) to know about research studies?
I would like more families to know that research embodies hope. Hope changes as we age, from hope that this or that happens, to hope in life, in friends, in goodness, in helpers. Most days I think, “Here I am still alive, and often I’m in a good mood. Other mornings as I feel minor aches and pains of aging, my vision is fading, I have more trouble concentrating, I think of Beckett’s idea, “You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of work?
My absolute passion is fly fishing. Trout live in beautiful places. No two days on the river are the same. To cast a fly in the seam between the riffle and the run, match the hatch with a tiny hand tied barbless fly bearing names like: Wooly Booger, Pink Lady, Prince Nymph, and compare notes with other anglers is a high point in my life. I am forever learning to read the river, the breaks and edges in the current, holds behind rocks where trout rest awaiting their next meal to drift by. Nature offers such great solitude!

Boyette shared this quote about her past-time from Sir John Buchan: “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of that which is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”