Advanced Practice Provider Week: Caring for Hearts

​I have been a cardiac physician assistant for 15 years. I was first drawn to cardiac patients because of the challenge, complexity, and the intensity during acute situations. But little did I know that caring for people's hearts all these years would mold my own.  

I will always remember one of my first patient losses when I was right out of school. A woman in her 50s that was unaware she even had heart disease died suddenly of a heart attack and I sat with her daughter that night who was exactly my age. She was in complete shock and distraught. That incident really drew me towards preventative cardiac care and educating my patients about their risk factors, especially educating woman about heart disease being the No. 1 killer. 

I moved back here to my hometown 10 years ago and I feel so blessed that the Ohio Heart doctors put their trust in me to help care for their patients here at The Christ Hospital. Christ is known for our incredible cardiac care and cutting edge therapy and it is humbling to work with such dedicated and talented doctors, nurses, and all the other staff here. I continue to grow and learn from them daily.  

Why do I truly love w
hat I do?

That's definitely because of the patients. Obviously I need to spend most of my time with my patients educating them about heart  disease and their treatment plan, but I love getting to know my patients’ hearts outside of just their anatomy and cholesterol numbers. The intimate part of our visits is when we dive in past the coronary artery health or the arrhythmia issues, and talk about their lives, about what stress or excitement is really weighing on their hearts. Trying to figure out the balance my patients need to live long, happy, content lives does of course include taking care of their bodies and taking the right medicines, but it also involves a lot more.

I thoroughly enjoy when my patients confide in me what else is throwing their heart health and life balance a curve ball: their grandson has just been accepted into an amazing college, they're about to be a great-grandparent, they’re thinking of retiring, they’re planning a big family trip, or they’ve set new goals for next year. Or, they’ll talk about their spouse being diagnosed with cancer, their exhaustion from caring for their parent with Alzheimer's, their discouragement with weight gain, or that they are battling depression. I learn so much from them, their willingness to be open and honest, and their determination not to give up in hard times.  

The continuity of care has blessed me with the ability to make close trusting relationships with these special people. It really moves me to see that they even have care and concern for me. They come in for their visit after having open heart surgery or being admitted for congestive heart failure and one of the first questions asked will be,  “how are your kids are doing in school? Or what are they are going to be for Halloween?" They remind me to embrace every moment and never take any days for granted. They remind me what priorities should be important in life, and how to keep my own heart content. I truly thank each and everyone of them. My cardiac patients confirm for me that most of the world is filled with good people with truly beautiful hearts. 

Want to learn more about advanced practice providers? Click to read more about their roles in patient care.