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Staff Spotlight: Melanie Meadows, NP

Thursday, December 13, 2018
By Imani Taylor
M Meadows

There's no doubt that being a mother of two elementary school boys while working 24-hour call shifts in the Neuro ICU exemplifies the true definition of a superwoman. But recently, Melanie Meadows, Nurse Practitioner, has earned another title--an Ironman triathlete. In this week’s spotlight interview, we learn what Ms. Meadows considers the hardest part of her job, her newly earned title, and what she did to obtain it.

What are your current responsibilities within the Neurology Department?
I am one of the critical care nurse practitioners in the Neuro-ICU.

How long have you worked for Duke and what does a typical work day for you look like?
I have worked at Duke in the Neuro-ICU for 12 years. In the Neuro-ICU, the providers work 24-hour call shifts. We round with a fellow or attending in the morning. The rest of the day is management of current patients or any new admits and post ops. If needed, I place devices such as central lines, arterial lines, or perform diagnostic procedures (LP’s). Overnight, I will follow up on any tests/studies and monitor hemodynamics. Additionally, I will review and manage morning X-rays, labs, fluid balance, and hemodynamics prior to oncoming shift.

What is the hardest part about your job? What is the most rewarding?
The hardest part of my job is transitioning to comfort care; especially, if I am the first person to discuss end-of-life care. Having a patient pass with dignity and peacefully is challenging sometimes. Even though this is a difficult topic, I enjoy helping families during this process.

Have you always been interested in your job position? What about your job aroused your interest?
I started here at Duke in the Neuro-ICU in October of 2006. At the time, I had no neuro-critical care experience. My background as an RN was SICU at Wake Med. When graduating with my MSN, there were few critical care NP positions in the area. In school, I did a rotation in the Neuro-ICU and really enjoyed the autonomy of the NPs, and felt that the NPs were well supported by the physician staff.

It was then that I knew that this position was the right fit for me and I never looked back.

I was notified that you just completed your second Ironman Triathlon. How long have you been running?
An Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile marathon; totaling 140.6 miles. I completed my second Ironman on November 4, 2018. My finish time was 16 hours and 38 minutes.

How did you first hear about the Triathlon? What made you want to enter?
I did my first short distance triathlon in September of 2011. I had my first son in the spring, and was looking for a way to push myself into getting back in shape. I couldn’t even swim one length in the pool and certainly never dreamed I would eventually complete an Ironman! I slowly worked my way up in endurance and distance over the past 7 years.

Meadows completes her most recent triathlon.

How often do you train for the event? What are your training exercises? How long is the run?
I train year round for the half distance (70.3 miles: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 run). With 2 younger kids, this is an easier training to manage. When training for the full distance, it takes about 4 months to ramp up the endurance. Typically, at the peak weeks of training before a race, I will train for about 10 to 12 hours a week.

Do you plan to attend Ironman again, next year? Is Ironman the only Triathlon you participate in?
There are 2 more full distance Ironman races I’d like to participate in. Afterwards, I will stick with the half distance races for a few years. There are several short distance local races and bike rides I do in training during the year as well.

What do you love most about Duke?
As a local, I have always been a Duke fan and love the beautiful Duke Chapel and Gardens. At work, I enjoy working with my co-workers, we have an awesome team.

If you could change one thing about Duke, what would it be?
If I could change one thing about Duke, it would be to have more options for food at night.