With her new video blog, Duke finally has the platform to pursue her passion to champion nurses and push for changes in the profession. Push she will—she was raised to stand up for what she believes in.
The 32-year-old Duke is a veritable one-woman powerhouse—and she carefully balances her long hours at work with lots of brain- soothing physical exercise and easy get-togethers with her close circle of friends. (“You won’t find me hanging out at bars or clubs on Friday nights; that’s just not my style.”)
Her lifestyle isn’t necessarily recommended for everyone, but Duke explains that because she doesn’t have kids, a husband or a boyfriend to worry about, and because she’s extremely regimented, she’s able to plan her weeks in advance for maximum productivity. That’s what allows her to be a motorcycle-riding (“It cuts my commute by half…and it’s cheap”), marathon-running (“I’m always training”), boxing (“Three days a week I train at El Barrio Boxing in Harlem”), hot-yoga-practicing (“I’ve got to balance the stress with something”), grad-school-studying (“Just one year left until I have a master’s degree and become a critical care nurse practitioner!”), hip-hop-loving dynamo. “I spent my first six months in New York City—when I wasn’t working—handing out CDs in front of the Apollo Theater in Harlem!” She was promoting bands she had been working with in St. Louis before she “finally left the nest.”
By all accounts, these experiences have helped make Duke the person and the nurse she is today.
“At the end of the day, you have to be strong to survive.”
Duke clearly does more than just survive; she takes everything in and uses it to help her patients. “I can ask patients, ‘What’s going on?’ I really listen to them so I can understand what’s brought them down, and then I can tell them that while I can’t fix their lives, I can certainly help them through their issues. The best days are when you can affect someone on a human level, lend a shoulder to lean on. Nursing is not always about lifesaving; sometimes it’s just life-improving.” Amen.