Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | December 10, 2019

No Bones About it: Enhancing Teamwork through Fun, Creativity

Duke Raleigh Hospital’s orthopedics unit has a clinical team lead, Nicole Tarplee, who has changed the environment of the unit by going above and beyond for staff well-being. ©2019 Kevin Seifert Photography

Duke Raleigh Hospital’s orthopaedics and spine unit has welcomed a new and very fitting teammate that’s helping bring the team together. Skully McHumerus, a life-sized human skeleton model, has become the unit’s mascot.

Skully’s been embraced by staff, patients and visitors alike. The ‘bone’ child of Nicole Tarplee, BSN, RN, CNII, CMSRN, the clinical team lead for the unit, is dressed up once a month with different outfits and props by team members.

“I always look forward to Skully’s new outfits,” said Jazmin Laus, a nursing care assistant and health unit coordinator for the team. “It’s a great opportunity that brings us all together to express our creativity and participate in the fun of his outfit reveal.”

Tarplee has created several initiatives to bring the team together and enhance culture of the unit.  

To highlight team members, she created a photo collage in the shape of two hearts on one of the unit’s main hallways. The pictures feature a headshot of each team member with their name, along with group pictures and fun speech bubbles.

The mascot, Skully McHumerus, is a skeleton that team members take turns dressing up each month. They enjoy coming in to see what he is dressed as and being a part of the fun. ©2019 Kevin Seifert Photography

“I want everyone to be happy and feel valued,” said Tarplee. “We spend so much time together at the hospital so we should be happy when we’re here – for each other and our patients.”

Additionally, small cards featuring an encouraging word or phrase and a hand-written note from Tarplee are given to team members when they go above and beyond for their patients, or each other. It’s yet another way to ensure their hard work is recognized and appreciated.

“The positive attitude Nicole brings has changed the spirit of the floor,” said Laus. “She puts a lot of time and effort into making every team member feel supported.”


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