Christina Condon, NP-C, MSN, is passionate about improving transitional care for patients with chronic illnesses.
Since joining Neurology at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist in 2010, she has led development of a transitional stroke program that reduced readmissions by nearly half, helped develop a digital platform that integrates with the electronic health record to generate personalized care plans, and become a seasoned implementation specialist for clinical research studies.
Describing her work, Christina becomes effervescent. “I’ve had so many awesome experiences as a nurse practitioner that I never expected, like innovative work with technology that is outside the typical role of a nurse practitioner and research that is improving care. It’s exciting. I love my job. And I get to care for people, too. It’s the best of both worlds!”
How she straddles the worlds of clinical care and research, translates provider jargon into lay language for patients, families and caregivers, and then converts their feedback into process improvements, owes much to some unexpected turns in her career and personal life.
An Orange County, Calif., native, Christina earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, in 2004, and her Master of Science in Nursing at the University of California Los Angeles, in 2007. An exceptional nurse she met during an appendectomy at age 14 sparked her interest in nursing.
While training in a cardiac ICU, she realized she wanted longer patient relationships and decided to be a family nurse practitioner. She married her husband, Brian, in 2006, and after graduating, worked at walk-in clinics. The financial crisis forced Brian, a bond trader, to seek a new career, which brought him to Wake Forest University’s MBA program.
Christina arrived in Winston-Salem with no job, no friends and their 6-month-old, Claire. (They’ve since added Rose, 10, Liam, 8, and Ella, 3.) On a playground, Christina met a Wake Forest Baptist nurse practitioner, who told her about a job on the stroke team doing clinical trials.
“No way,” Christina replied. “I will never do neurology or research.” She had tentatively agreed to join another hospital’s cardiac team, but her mother-in-law thought the overnight and on-call shifts a poor fit for a young mother and urged her to interview with the stroke team. “I did, and I fell in love with them,” Christina recalled.
Later, her mother-in-law began having a series of strokes and has lost her ability to speak.
“I really know now how to be a caregiver,” Christina noted. “It just makes me want to be a better provider because I see the challenges that people go through. I know my purpose. I feel called by God to do my job.”
Christina dislikes calling APPs “mid-level” because it doesn’t reflect the quality these professionals bring to patient care. “A good APP sees the whole picture,” she said. “You put the pieces together to develop a holistic view of the patient, so you can advocate for them.”
A better term for Christina might be “next-level.” As co-lead APP for implementation in the COMPASS (Comprehensive Post-Acute Stroke Services) study (2012-19), she and teammate Sarah Lycan, NP, manager, Comprehensive Stroke Center, helped launch transitional stroke clinics in 40 hospitals across North Carolina. From that study emerged COMPASS-CP, the digital platform Christina helped design.
“We learned from COMPASS that we need to get blood pressure controlled to prevent another stroke, and that’s where the newest study, TEAMS-BP, came from,” she explained. As director of implementation, Christina is helping create an informatics platform to integrate wearables, remote patient monitoring, chronic management and transitional care management.
What Her Mentors Say
Christina credits her mentors, Cheryl Bushnell, MD, MHS, professor, Neurology, vice chair of Research and Stroke Division chief, and Pamela W. Duncan, PhD, professor, Neurology, and principal investigator for the COMPASS study.
Together they’ve co-authored articles about the COMPASS study, and Christina served as lead author of “Reducing Readmissions After Stroke with a Structured Nurse Practitioner/Registered Nurse Transitional Stroke Program,” published in the journal Stroke in 2016.
“Cheryl and Pam were kind enough to make me the first author, something not many APPs get an opportunity to do,” she said. “I’ve had mentors who allowed me to shine.”
Both mentors reflect the pride and satisfaction that accrue over a decade of supporting Christina’s progress.
“Christina is a transformative clinical provider, improving post-stroke prevention and recovery,” Pam said. “She is helping transform informatics and technology to enrich the patient experience and to close the clinical provider communication loop. Most importantly, she defines patient-centered care, giving countless hours to advocate for and educate her patients. Christina is an inspiration for all who work with her and a source of optimism that post-acute stroke care will improve.”
“As a clinician, Christina always goes the extra mile,” Cheryl said. “Her patients absolutely love her. She has grown her capacity to lead a team of technical and clinical experts to implement the informatics tool, along with our interventions, for our TEAMS-BP trial. She communicates well with diverse team members and is doing an outstanding job developing training plans for a wide variety of stakeholders. I am honored to be working side by side with her on this project and to have watched her grow into the consummate clinician, educator and leader that she is today.”