Meet Judy Mickens, Lead Mammography Technologist, Empower Award Recipient


Each year Beekley Medical awards one person the EMPOWER Award for Mammography. It is a hard process every time we review the submitted nomination as all individual submissions are abundantly compelling with each person’s own special story, accomplishments, and apparent reasons why their colleagues felt the need to nominate them.  

This process was made even more difficult in a year where every healthcare worker deserves both recognition and an award for putting their personal health at risk, going above and beyond to cover extra shifts, all while doing it with a smile and compassion, to help their own patients feel safe. 

“Embodies the mission of mammographer more than anyone we have ever encountered”

However, what set the nomination for Judy Mickens, (Lead Technologist, the Breast Imaging Division at Duke University Medical Center) apart, Is her focus on excellence in breast imaging, her dedication to early detection and patient care, and her desire to continuously improve her already formidable knowledge and skills as a mammographer.

According to Mary Scott Soo, M.D., Professor of Radiology, who submitted Judy’s nomination, Judy “embodies the mission of mammographer more than anyone we have ever encountered! 

"As a mammographer, Judy epitomizes what makes a great mammography technologist great. Her images are technically outstanding--always. She is by far our fastest and most efficient technologist – yet she understands that the goal isn’t to get through the cases quickly, rather it is the early detection of breast cancer, whatever it takes.

“No matter how awkward or difficult to reach location of a suspicious finding, if a radiologist requests an additional view to better assess it, Judy will “put it on film” (and she has been doing this long enough to understand where that expression comes from).“

Dr. Soo added that Judy has a knack for connecting with her patients, even the most anxious, most uncomfortable, and most reticent, and come out of the exam as that patient’s best friend. “It explains why many patients lucky enough to have had Judy once as their technologist are sure to ask for her again the following year. And the year after that.”  

“The academician’s breast technologist” 

Calling her the “academician’s breast technologist,” Dr. Soo went on to note Judy’s passion for and natural inquisitiveness of all things breast imaging.  

“She wants to learn and understand how to recognize not only breast cancer, but the entire spectrum of findings visible on breast imaging. She wants to understand PASH, be able to recognize a papilloma, and be able to distinguish a fibroadenoma from a triple negative breast cancer which can mislead the more casual observer. "She frequently brings me good cases she has seen that day to discuss, to understand, or simply to marvel over. 

"More importantly, she also takes responsibility to bring us screening cases with a concerning finding so we can act on it immediately - because Judy understands that for some patients the term 'screen-and-go' simply doesn’t apply. We are all grateful for it and grateful to have Judy Mickens in the trenches with us every day."
We learned that Judy is a natural leader and that everyone at Duke Breast Imaging loves being on her team.

“She knows how to guide with grace, confidence, and give clear direction to get through the busiest of days. She always has a smile and an uplifting word, she is kind, spunky, fun to be around, and always helps us remember to laugh--Judy is simply wonderful. We hope you will consider her for your award.”

“She is everything that makes Duke Breast Imaging what it is”

Because of COVID-19, we presented Judy with her award virtually, and based on the number of attendees who logged on from various parts of the hospital, it was obvious how much Judy is respected and loved. Her husband Charles was there as well as a special guest to share in her special moment.

Dr. Jay Baker, Professor of Radiology and Chief of the Breast Imaging Division, presented Judy the Beekley Medical® 2020 EMPOWER Award for Mammography.

He shared, “I was a Fellow here once upon a time. And when I went off to practice in Florida, I tried to take Judy with me. I learned that every fellow who has come through Duke Breast Imaging, when they leave has also tried to take Judy with them. But Judy wouldn't go. So, I had to come back and found out the reason Judy wouldn't go is because Judy believes in Duke blue. She is everything that makes Duke Breast Imaging what it is. We really formed this division around her and try to live up to her standards.” 

When it came time for Judy to accept her award, she tearfully said how proud she was to receive this award and how proud she was of her profession. 

“My team here at Duke Breast Imaging – the technologists and radiologists, my clerical staff, my leadership team - are all awesome. I am just so privileged to work here. Mammography has always been my calling and I'm so honored to be at this institution, and a center for excellence. This is my passion. And I'm so thankful. I know that there are over 10,000 imaging sites in the U.S.A. and I was chosen. I am so proud. And thank you.”

Congratulations and thank you!

Beekley Medical congratulates Judy Mickens and the amazing team at the Breast Imaging Division at Duke University Medical Center. We are inspired by your commitment to work together as a team with the singular focus of making women’s lives better through the early detection of breast cancer. 

Melissa Vibberts

Melissa Vibberts

Director of Brand Management

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