New Center Focuses on Student Support, Wellness

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The Duke University School of Nursing offers a new outlet for students needing support regarding their emotional health and wellbeing – the Student Success Center.

The new center is open to any student needing assistance with stress management, resiliency, interpersonal challenges, mental health and wellbeing, and other types of stress that may be impacting their academic performance.

brandon knettel sean convoy“Students are first and foremost in our mind. Everything revolves around them,” said Sean P. Convoy, DNP, PMHNP-BC, assistant professor and lead faculty in the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program.

Convoy co-leads the Student Success Center with new faculty member Brandon Knettel, PhD, assistant professor and licensed psychologist.

Developing the center has been in progress for over a year. The original idea can be credited to the DUSON Emerging Leaders Program with Valerie M. Howard, EdD, MSN, RN, ANEF, CNE, FAAN, vice dean for academic affairs and professor, implementing the recommendations to start in the Fall 2020 semester.

“Within nursing, there has been a regular stream of information that suggests that the nursing profession, and specifically the academic preparation for nursing, is a stressful experience,” Convoy said. “Our goal with the Center is to perhaps be more proactive in supporting student wellness by strategically placing opportunities for mental health promotion, mental illness prevention and early case identification.

The vision is to see if we can focus on building on our students’ natural resilience, which is going to actually help the nursing population over time as well as the patients that we serve.”

Students will use the Student Success Center for short-term consultation. They can either come in person or set up a Zoom appointment. At their session with Knettel, the student will be able to discuss their situation and get support and information on how to best proceed with managing their needs, whether it be through outside counseling, an additional Duke resource or another method.

While Knettel handles more of the individual sessions, Convoy is able to provide population-based resources and will continue to host workshops on mental health promotion and resilience training for the DUSON community. Convoy is also creating opportunities for PMHNP students to shadow him for academic credit in order to gain a better insight into health promotion and prevention.

Knettel invites any student who wants to learn more or to introduce themselves to visit the Center or reach out to the team, even if that student isn’t currently undergoing anything uniquely stressful or difficult. If any faculty or staff member encounters a student who might benefit from the Center’s services, they are welcome to refer the student to the Center but cannot mandate the student to go.

“This is a resource for students, not something that’s required,” Knettel said. “It's really about promoting wellness and success in every facet of their lives, not just when something challenging happens. Our conversation is really going to be based on what the student needs and what is most helpful to them. We don't have to talk about anything that they don't want to talk about.”

Knettel is currently available for on-campus consultations in the Pearson Building, Room 1013, and is available for Zoom appointments during regular working hours. To schedule a meeting, call 919-684-9416, email, or visit the Student Success Center website.

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