Blue Devil of the Week: From Traveling Nurse to Duke Forever

Jennifer Frith manages the Adult Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinic

Jennifer Frith worked as a traveling nurse for 10 years before making Duke the last stop.
Jennifer Frith worked as a traveling nurse for 10 years before making Duke the last stop.

Name: Jennifer Frith

Position: Nurse Manager, Operations of Adult Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinic

Time at Duke: 9 years

What she does at Duke:

Frith ensures the roughly 40 nurses she oversees are attentively caring for patients in the Adult Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinic in Duke’s North Pavilion. About 100 patients visit the clinic daily for routine appointments in addition to apheresis, chemotherapy, stem cell reinfusion and supportive care.

With treatment lasting two to 10 hours, patient care can vary. For Frith, it can mean anything making sure her team is appropriately staffed to support patients. For nurses, Frith is always ready to offer thanks and words of encouragement. Frith always tries to lead by example and offers her assistance when possible.

“I’m trying to make sure patients and nurses have everything they need, emotionally and physically, during their stay,” Frith said.

What she loves about Duke:

Frith spent the first 10 years of her career as a traveling nurse, working in about 12 hospitals across the country. Duke is the last stop.

“When I landed at Duke, I saw the high-quality care the nurses administered in addition to the nursing and leadership support within the program,” Frith said. “I knew this was exactly what I had been looking for in my career.

Once Frith was hired at Duke full-time in 2008, she quickly noticed the comradery between nurses, advanced practice providers and physicians. She wanted to continue this positive environment and eventually initiated a work culture committee with another colleague which is still in place on the unit till this day.

“I absolutely love my staff,” Frith said. “The patients are very sick. It’s emotionally taxing, but the staff are very strong and look out for each other.”

A special object in her office:

Within Frith’s office are pictures of her two black Labrador-Newfound dogs, Tucker and Cole, her undergraduate degree from Carlow University and a master’s degree from Western Governors University. But the object she’s proudest of? The Evelyn Morgan Award for Excellence in Oncology, which she received from Duke in 2013.

The award is named after Duke’s first oncology nurse clinician and is given to a staff member who shows leadership and mentorship to coworkers.

“It means everything to me knowing that it was submitted by colleagues who I respect so much and worked with daily,” she said.

Memorable day at work:

Frith recalls after completing her Master’s, the team through a party and had to dress up in a cap and gown.

“It was such a nice recognition from the team,” she said.

First-ever job:

In high school, Frith’s alarm would go off almost every Saturday morning at about 4:30 a.m. for a waitressing job. She worked at Olivia’s International Diner in Erie, PA. It was a combination restaurant and fishing store run by a married couple from Romania and Russia. 

“I saw off the fishermen as they headed out to the water and fed them when they returned,” she said.

Best advice she’s ever received:

“It never hurts to ask, because the worst that can happen is somebody says no,” she said.

Something most people don’t know about her: 

Frith was on a crew team for the four years she was a student at Carlow University in Pittsburgh. She rowed on the starboard, or right side, of the boat.

“I loved the adrenaline from it,” she said. “It kept my stress down in nursing school.”

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