Blue Devil of the Week: A Welcoming Face for Patients

Clifton Wilson treats Duke Rheumatology Clinic patients like family

Registered Medical Assistant Clifton Wilson prides himself on looking after patients at the Duke Rheumatology Clinic. Photo by Stephen Schramm.
Registered Medical Assistant Clifton Wilson prides himself on looking after patients at the Duke Rheumatology Clinic. Photo by Stephen Schramm.

Name: Clifton Wilson

Title: Registered Medical Assistant, Duke Rheumatology Clinic

Years at Duke: 7

What he does: When patients come to the Duke Rheumatology Clinic, Clifton Wilson is one of the first faces they see. And Wilson works hard to make sure that face is a welcoming one.

In his role, Wilson leads patients – he can see 40 to 50 on busy days – back to examination rooms, gets their vital information and gathers information for doctors by listening to the patients’ concerns.

“We form a good relationship with our patients because they come so regularly,” Wilson said. “They tell us their highs and lows. Sometimes they tell us about their families. We’re close-knit.”

Wilson’s ID badge is filled with five gold star pins, each one signifying a time a patient alerted Duke Health leadership of Wilson’s exceptional care.

“I try to be sympathetic to each and every person that comes in here,” Wilson said. “I would want someone in my family treated the way I try to treat my patients. It’s the way I want to be treated when I go to my primary care doctor. I try to meet their needs.”

What he loves about Duke: Wilson said he appreciates the fact that he’s not the only one in Duke Health who prioritizes the patient experience. He feels his values are shared by those who work alongside him.

“I’m just proud of the health care that Duke gives its patients,” Wilson said. “Duke has some of the best doctors in the world and they make sure that the patients are the first priority. They make sure they feel welcome and at home. That’s the Duke way.”

Best advice received: When Wilson was studying how to be a medical assistant at Raleigh’s Living Arts College, one bit of guidance seemed to stick with him the most.

“Documentation, documentation, documentation,” he recalled instructors telling him.

The lesson was that it was important to listen closely to patients and make sure there are plenty of notes for doctors to study.

“You’ve got to document everything the patient tells you, what they’re taking, what they’re not taking, what they’re doing, what they’re not doing,” Wilson said. “You always have to document it because documentation can save somebody. Every bit of information is valuable and we need to relay that to the doctor.”

First ever job: When he was in high school, Wilson often helped handle the catering for special events at the Searle Center in Duke University Hospital. He said he relished the chance to engage with the people who attended the events.

“It’s important to give people good service,” Wilson said. “I did that in each and every job I’ve had, try to give the best service I could.”

Something most people don’t know about him: After serving as a deacon for a few years in Durham’s United Assembly of Christ, Wilson became a minister more than a year ago.

“I didn’t go to school or anything, it was just a calling,” Wilson said. “God gave me a call. It didn’t happen overnight. It took some years.”

So two Sundays a month, he officiates worship services, leading prayers and providing sermons for the congregation.

“What God gives me, I give the people,” Wilson said. “My faith in God helps me do my job better. We’re supposed to treat our neighbors the way we’d want to be treated.”

Is there a colleague at Duke who has an intriguing job or goes above and beyond to make a difference? Nominate that person for Blue Devil of the Week.