It is hard to believe that my nursing career has spanned four decades. I worked in medical-surgical nursing, critical care, education, and occupational medicine before serendipitously finding my home in cardiovascular nursing eighteen years ago. I took a part-time position in outpatient cardiology to accommodate my graduate school schedule and fell in love with the patients. As a nurse practitioner, it has been a perfect fit for me. My responsibilities include supervising stress tests, helping patients prevent or manage cardiovascular disease in the outpatient setting, rounding on hospitalized patients, participating in clinical trials, and teaching patients, students, and colleagues. Never a dull moment!
It is very rewarding to help patients navigate the journey from diagnosis to confidently living with heart disease. That often includes a lifestyle overhaul. Staying up to date regarding emergency response, current treatment recommendations, and practice guidelines is essential for patient care and advocacy. However, knowledge is rarely all that is needed to empower patients to make lifestyle changes—they need more than education. Patients also need support to identify barriers to change, help in developing goals that take their uniqueness into consideration, and skills to function in a healthcare system that is often foreign to them. For example, statistics tell us that up to 50% of patients will discontinue their statin in the first year of therapy. Improving adherence is an opportunity and challenge for nurses and advanced practice nurses alike.
I joined PCNA 18 years ago to gain knowledge about cardiovascular nursing. It met my expectations and more. PCNA is an invaluable resource for evidence-based, unbiased information necessary for providing care to patients with, or at risk for, cardiovascular disease. It has helped me appreciate the critical role nurses play in the fight against heart disease, and models how collaboration with other disciplines improves patient care. Finally, it has been a vehicle for professional development. I had the privilege of serving as the Minnesota/Wisconsin chapter leader for the past 2 years and now look forward to working with the PCNA Continuing Education Committee. Interested in sharing your story? Let us know.