Deborah Flowers, MSN, RN, CPNP, SANE-A, SANE-P | Allied Professional Award
Child Advocacy Centers of North Carolina
Pittsboro, North Carolina
Deborah “Deb” Flowers began her career as an Emergency Medical Technician in a rural North Carolina community before becoming a Registered Nurse in the 1980s. She joined the University of North Carolina (UNC) state hospital in 1988, and remained until her “retirement” in 2019.
Her career trajectory changed when she was asked to take one of the first ever Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) courses in the mid-1990s. Little did she know then, that this training would impact countless victims of sexual violence for years to come. She recalls “weeping every day of the training,” burdened with the knowledge of the haphazard care she had previously provided to patients. Determined to rectify these wrongs and provide the level of care that victims needed and deserved, she and another nurse founded UNC’s SANE program in 1997.
After years of advocating for victims of sexual violence, she returned to school to further her scope of practice. Ms. Flowers became a pediatric nurse practitioner for UNC’s Child Medical Evaluation Program. There, she provided inpatient consultation for all children who presented with non-accidental trauma.
Her work paved the way for future guidelines on mandated consultation for the most vulnerable populations. Ms. Flowers has helped establish frameworks that identify children who are being abused, and connect them to wrap-around services to prevent future harm. For example, any pediatric patient under age two presenting with a burn injury gets a consult with the child abuse team. Ms. Flowers also created and served on many multidisciplinary teams that review individual cases through a collaborative lens.
Recognizing that rural communities across the state suffered from a lack of child abuse experts, Ms. Flowers joined the Child Advocacy Centers of North Carolina in her retirement. She is the Medical Services Coordinator for the state and works at two rural child advocacy centers. Her schedule to see pediatric victims remains booked.
Ms. Flowers has been a beacon for survivors and a mentor to countless nurses and professionals across the State of North Carolina and beyond. She urges nurses to meet the complex medical-forensic, evidentiary, and mental health needs of all their patients.
By sharing her knowledge through mentorship, Ms. Flowers has made a major difference in the lives of the victims she and her mentees encounter.
2022 National Crime Victims' Service Awards Tribute Video
Watch this video to learn more about Deborah Flowers, 2022 recipient of the Allied Professional Award.