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Chocowinity native selected as ECU Physicians’ Nurse of the Year

A nurse specialist in pediatrics has been selected by her peers as the 2019 Nurse of the Year at ECU Physicians, the medical practice of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.

Megan Taylor, a Chocowinity native, works in pediatric pulmonology at ECU Pediatric Specialty Care. The 19-year nursing veteran has a reputation for being a devoted leader and patient advocate.

“I chose nursing to actually make a difference in people’s lives,” Taylor said. “There is always something new to learn which makes the job exciting, challenging and rewarding.”

Amy Tysinger, the mother of a 5-year-old girl with cystic fibrosis, said Taylor has gone above and beyond to make sure her daughter, Amelia, always has what she needs, whether it’s a prescription refill, ordering equipment or working with insurance companies.

“When you have a child diagnosed with a chronic medical condition, you rely on others to hold your child’s best interest in the same regard that you do,” said Tysinger in her nomination letter. “Navigating the health care world with a child with a serious medical condition is challenging, even on a good day. It’s so comforting to know you have someone in your court who will be an advocate for your child. Megan goes out of her way to make life easier for her patients and families.”

Taylor said her patients are her source of motivation.

“I constantly ask myself, ‘If this was my child what would I want? How would I feel? How would I act?’” Taylor said. “From my youngest to my oldest patient, everyone deserves someone to take the time and go that extra mile especially when they require medical care.”

Dr. William Wooten, head of pediatric pulmonology for ECU’s Department of Pediatrics and director of ECU’s Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Services, said in his nomination letter that Taylor’s leadership and dedication benefit their colleagues, empower their patients and contribute to their program’s success.

“Last year, Megan led our efforts toward a significant milestone, as ECU and Vidant Medical Center-Maynard Children’s Hospital earned CF Foundation accreditation as an affiliate care center for cystic fibrosis,” Wooten said. “Megan’s enthusiasm has been evident in her leadership to go above and beyond as our clinical nurse specialist and CF clinic coordinator.”

Wooten said Taylor, in her role as CF clinic coordinator, effectively supervises a growing multidisciplinary team – including a social worker, nutritionist, respiratory therapist and physical therapist – to determine and meet the unique needs of each patient.

“As part of our accreditation, there is a national patient registry that tracks patient information including demographics, lung function data, growth parameters, culture information and illnesses/hospitalizations over time,” Wooten explained. “Without a research coordinator in our division, Megan has willingly assumed this responsibility as well. With her efforts, we were able to report all our CF patients to the registry, which will translate to additional funding from the CF Foundation this year.”

Beyond CF, Taylor is a tireless worker for patients with a wide range of pulmonary conditions including asthma, chronic cough and vocal cord dysfunction.

In eastern North Carolina, where there’s a high prevalence of severe asthma and asthma-related deaths, education is an important but time-consuming aspect of care. Taylor provides extensive, effective education for ECU’s asthmatic patients, Wooten said.

“Her involvement and accessibility have led families to better understanding of asthma, with less utilization of resources like the emergency department and hospitalization, and improvements in quality of life,” Wooten said.

He recalled that Taylor phoned one patient’s mother daily after the child was discharged from the hospital, just to reassure her and offer support.

Taylor said the best part of her job is participating in her patients’ lives.

“I love playing with them, talking with them, celebrating their achievements and supporting them when they feel defeated,” she said. “My patients inspire me and make me want to work harder to be able to advocate for them.”

Theresa Blount, coordinator of the Pediatric Asthma Program at Vidant Medical Center, said in her nomination letter that Taylor works tirelessly to help families. She said Taylor helps uninsured children get necessary medications and arranges home assessments to check for mold that could be impacting a patient with asthma.

“I have collaborated with Megan for over 10 years and I remain in awe of her energy and compassion for each family she comes in contact with,” Blount said. “She is the heart and soul of the pediatric pulmonary department.”

Taylor earned her associate degree in nursing from Beaufort County Community College in 2000 and hopes to enroll at ECU soon to complete her BSN.

The other finalists for this year’s award were:

  • Shanita Bennett, nurse manager in the Department of Internal Medicine
  • Jennifer Blizzard, nurse administrator in the Department of Family Medicine
  • Tiffany Langston, family nurse practitioner in the Department of Family Medicine
  • Rhonda Strickland, nurse manager in the Department of Pediatrics
  • Katie Venters, nurse specialist in the Department of Pediatrics