Denise Napoli

Degree and Year: 
BA 2006
Professional Title: 
Registered Nurse
Employer: 
Visiting Nurse Service and Hospice of Suffolk

Professional Background: 
After working as a medical news reporter in Washington, D.C. for 3 years after graduation, I went back to school and attended an accelerated nursing program in New York, earning a bachelor's of science in nursing. I worked in an ICU for 3 years after that and eventually switched to home hospice nursing.

How has being an English graduate from Duke University helped shape your professional success?: 
For obvious reasons, few medical professionals have English degrees. However, as an English major in a field of non-majors, I not only am able to communicate more effectively with patients and families from many different backgrounds, but I'm also able to hear their stories--REALLY hear them-- and appreciate them in a way that other medical people they encounter often do not. In hospice, especially, I help set patients' stories about illness in the larger context of their lives and their life stories, and their family stories. I know that for my patients, I am more than just their nurse...they feel that I really "get" them, and that's because I do. Professors like Christina Askounis and James Applewhite taught me to appreciate the many varied human voices and stories that I encounter in this field, and I am extremely grateful.