NDSU Nursing alum receives award after detailed observation led to rare diagnosis

Photo of NDSU Nursing alum Brooke Feltman, DNP, holding a framed certificate, surrounded by patient's family that she helped, including a mother, father and two small children.

Photo of Spencer and Jesse Erickson, certified nurse practitioner Brooke Feltman of Essentia Health, and Samantha and Tenley Erickson at an informal award ceremony.

Text and photos used with permission of Essentia Health. Article excerpts by Caitlin Pallai.

Brooke Feltman (NDSU Nursing, ’17, ‘22) recently received the Golden Stethoscope award from Essentia Health for her role in making a far-reaching and potentially life-saving rare diagnosis for a patient and their family.

Feltman received her doctor of nursing practice and bachelor’s of science in nursing degrees from NDSU. She was nominated for the award on behalf of patient Samantha Erickson’s family. To celebrate, Feltman’s colleagues at the Essentia Health-South University Clinic in Fargo hosted a surprise award presentation attended by her parents, her husband, and the Erickson family.

Photo of Essentia Health staff and patient Samantha Erickson with DNP Brooke Feltman holding framed award certificate.

Brooke Feltman, (APRN, CNP) received the Golden Stethscope award, pictured with the Essentia Health team.

The Golden Stethoscope recognizes outstanding providers who go above and beyond while carrying out Essentia’s mission and values every day.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” said Erickson, holding back tears, as she read through her nomination. “You may have played the biggest role in our life and didn’t even know it.”

In July 2023, the Erickson children – Tenley and Spencer – had a consult with Feltman. Feltman is an advanced practice registered nurse and certified nurse practitioner specializing in otolaryngology, a medical specialty focused on the ears, nose, and throat.

While screening Tenley, Feltman noticed she had a split uvula, the teardrop-shaped tissue at the back of the throat.

Feltman suggested a precautionary cardiology appointment at Essentia Health-Fargo to ensure this wasn’t related to anything more serious.

“Brooke helped coordinate the referral and get Tenley to the right place,” explained Erickson. “This just meant so much to us because it went seamlessly, and we were able to get in.”

It was quickly discovered that Tenley had an aortic root aneurysm, or an enlarged section of the aorta. The aortic root is where the aorta and the heart connect.

With these two discoveries, it was recommended that Tenley be tested for Loey-Dietz Syndrome – a genetic connective tissue disease that affects all the connective tissues, including joints and major blood vessels, in the body.

Tenley tested positive in August.

As a result, the whole Erickson family was tested for the gene, which led to positive results for Erickson’s husband, Jesse, and their son, Spencer. The Erickson’s baby, due by the end of December, will be tested at birth.

Tenley and Spencer now have regular scans and echocardiograms to monitor their condition. But it was Jesse who might have been impacted the most.

“My husband actually just had open heart surgery two weeks ago because of his aneurysm,” said Erickson to a stunned Feltman. “With that disease, he needed to have an operation sooner rather than later.”

Jesse also had three of his valves replaced and repaired.

“It’s been really instrumental to our whole family because we like him and we want him around,” she added lightheartedly. “And so, in a way, you started with Tenley, but it’s just trickled to multiple other family members. We appreciate you and you are very deserving of this award.”

DNP and NDSU grad Brooke Feltman receives a framed certificate for a Golden Stethoscope award during a surprise informal ceremony

Certified Nurse Practitioner and NDSU alum Brooke Feltman receives a framed Golden Stethoscope Award in a surprise informal ceremony.

“It’s still very obvious the difference that you have made for Sam and her family, and the difference you make every day, Brooke,” said Jackie Buboltz, mission integration director at Essentia, as Feltman was presented with a pin and certificate. “Thank you for what you do each and every day for our patients, our colleagues and our community.”

"Our nursing graduates make a difference every day, and we congratulate Brooke on this well-deserved award," said Carla Gross, chair and associate dean in the NDSU School of Nursing.

NDSU School of Nursing offers multiple in-person and online paths for those who want to pursue or advance their nursing careers through programs that include:  Pre-Licensure BSN, Accelerated BSN, online RN to BSN, online blended LPN to BSN, and DNP/Family Nurse Practitioner degrees.

As a student focused, land grant, research institution, we serve our citizens.

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