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Opening doors of opportunity at Duke Health: Trace's story

team member trace alligood smiling in front of a wall

After being born at Duke University Hospital and growing up in Virginia, Trace Alligood, clinical nurse III at Duke University Hospital, never imagined he would return to the Triangle and to Duke Health. 

But during nursing school, Trace was looking for an opportunity to kickstart his nursing career. He decided to apply for our Professional Nurse Assistant (PNA) Program, which is a 10-week paid opportunity that allows rising junior and senior nursing students to gain valuable clinical experience while working one-on-one with a nurse mentor.  

As Trace progressed through the program, he quickly found that Duke was an environment that supported his growth. It was an environment where he wanted to continue advancing, even after he completed the program.  

“I enjoyed the patients and team members that I worked with and decided that I really wanted to stay around the same unit,” said Trace. “I stayed on as a nursing assistant during my final year of nursing school. When I finished nursing school, it was a no-brainer that I would continue to work in the same place.” 

In 2020, Trace graduated from nursing school with his bachelor's degree and officially became a registered nurse with Unit 3100 - Cardiothoracic Surgery Stepdown, the same unit he started with in the Professional Nurse Assistant Program. 

“The culture of Duke was a large factor in my decision to stay after completing nursing school. Every day that I come in, I get the opportunity to work with team members who strive to work together and value helping each other in better patient outcomes,” said Trace. 

As a new graduate nurse, Trace participated in Duke Health’s Nurse Residency Program, and shortly after, began climbing the Nursing Career Ladder, which promotes the development of nurses through professional growth opportunities. 

Through the program, Trace has progressed from a clinical nurse I to clinical nurse III — and he's not done growing.

Utilizing Duke Health’s RN Tuition Assistance Program, which contributes a portion of a nurse's tuition for select master's and doctorate programs at the Duke University School of Nursing, Trace is now pursuing his master’s degree to become a nurse practitioner.  

Along this new journey, Trace knows that he has the support he’s always had as he continues advancing his career. 

My managers and assistant managers have always supported me in my quest to pursue higher education,” said Trace. “While I was working as a nursing assistant and completing nursing school, and now as a registered nurse completing my master’s, they allow me to be flexible and help me to incorporate my academic schedule into my professional schedule.” 

While working on his master’s degree, Trace has also had the opportunity to be part of patient care initiatives and help find new ways to improve patient safety.  

Trace is a Unit Champion for DukeMOVES, which is Duke Health’s safe patient handling and mobility program. As a Unit Champion, Trace helps to promote patient safety and partners with other team members across the health system on process improvement for the program.  

As Trace reflects on his professional development and contributions to health system safety programs — and as he looks forward to the next step of his nursing journey with us — he knows that he’ll continue seeing the doors of opportunity open here.  

I didn’t anticipate returning to the same hospital I was born in and assuming as many roles as I have, but I am grateful that I have,” said Trace. “Working here has opened many doors for me that I did not previously know were possible.” 

Open the doors to opportunity and career advancement with Duke Health. Join us. 

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