Each year, the North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA) Nurse Practitioner Spring Symposium draws NPs together from across the state for professional development, networking, and policy discussion. At the 2022 Nurse Practitioner Spring Symposium in March in Asheville, NC, Jennifer (Jennie) Woody, FNP, and Heather Carroll, FNP, took to the podium to share approaches to best nursing practices that rely equally upon independent and cross-disciplinary decision-making for effective patient care delivery.
Woody developed an interest in orthopaedics from her own experiences as a patient throughout childhood in UNC’s Pediatric Orthopaedics clinic. She was inspired to study nursing at UNC-Chapel Hill and noted: “My experiences as a patient convinced me that clinicians have a unique opportunity and incredible responsibility to have a positive impact on the lives of those they treat.”
Woody’s interest in orthopaedics expanded as she worked as a nurse extern in UNC’s Orthopaedic and Trauma Inpatient Unit while in nursing school. As she began her nursing career and worked as an RN, she remained in orthopaedic and trauma in-patient care at UNC for five years.
Woody joined UNC Orthopaedics as an NP upon completing her MSN in 2009. Over the past 10+ years, she has managed a broad range of musculoskeletal conditions in the department’s OrthoNow walk-in clinic and general orthopaedic clinics. She has also been a part of the department’s Bone Health Program and the UNC Spine and Imaging Center’s cross-disciplinary Spine team. She joined the Foot & Ankle division in 2016.
At the NCNA’s March symposium, Woody’s presentation — Challenges of Diabetic Foot Disease – focused on the interdisciplinary approaches used by her team and in individual practice to better serve foot and ankle patients at UNC. Speaking to an audience of approximately 350 attendees, Woody imparted invaluable best practices to improve patient outcomes in diabetic foot disease through optimizing resource utilization, interdisciplinary collaboration, care coordination and research.
She stated: “I am fortunate to work closely with a team of professionals both within and outside of our department who are dedicated to providing excellent patient care. UNC Orthopaedics and UNC Health have provided me with opportunities to grow as a clinician and routinely collaborate with top experts in multiple fields throughout my career. Our patients benefit when we all work together.”
Like Woody, Heather Carroll tailored the message of her symposium presentation — Pediatric Sports Medicine: Acute and Overuse Injuries – to the many primary care NPs attending the NCNA’s March 2022 symposium who are the first practitioners to evaluate the pediatric patients who frequently present to primary care clinics with sports-related injuries.
Carroll noted: “It is my goal to educate family practice clinicians on how to independently triage and manage some of the more common sports-related injuries and concurrently to know when to refer to an orthopaedics subspecialist.”
Carroll’s early FNP career working at a federally qualified healthcare center greatly influenced her holistic approach to care delivery. Two years of working with traditionally underserved patients in rural areas instilled in her an understanding of and desire to optimize health outcomes by focusing on prevention and patient education.
In 2013, Carroll was appointed to UNC Orthopaedics faculty and first worked in the OrthoNow walk-in clinic and in general orthopaedics. In 2019, she joined the department’s Pediatric Orthopaedics division. Carroll collaborates with a multitude of disciplines within the UNC Health system to optimize patient care and patient outcomes. In Pediatric Orthopaedics, she treats a range of congenital and developmental musculoskeletal conditions along with acute and chronic injuries.
The NCNA Nurse Practitioner Spring Symposium dually serves as a stage for national and regional experts to speak on healthcare policy, reform and public health issues that influence nursing practice and decision-making. In their decade+ of providing patient care as FNPs, Woody and Carroll have served as leaders within the institution and the field of nursing.
For three years (2016-2019), Woody served as UNC Orthopaedics’ Lead Advanced Practice Provider (APP). In March 2022, she was named Co-Chair of UNC Heath’s APP Center Mentoring Subcommittee. She has published in and served as a reviewer for the Journal for Nurse Practitioners and will serve as a Musculoskeletal Lab Instructor at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) National Conference in June 2022. Upon obtaining her Master of Health Administration (MHA) from UNC Gillings Global School of Public Health in August 2022, Woody will be in position to advance as a decision-maker in areas of interest in healthcare operations, such as value-added patient care delivery.
In 2019, Carroll was appointed UNC School of Nursing adjunct teaching faculty. Her expertise in treating pediatric acute and overuse injuries and teaching subspecialty musculoskeletal care to MSN students has been a rewarding experience for her and the students.