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A Day in the Life – Meet NP Susan Chernenko

November 10th, 2015

Susan Chernenko photo

Nurse Practitioner Susan works for the Toronto Lung Transplant Program as the Practice Leader/Program Development




The life of a Nurse Practitioner (NP) remains a complex one. No single day is the same, no single patient alike, providing unique challenges and fulfilling experiences. Nursing over 30 yrs, 13 years as a Nurse Practitioner, I have seen much of the human spirit in all of its vicissitudes. My story as an NP parallels that of many of my skilled colleagues.

On a weekly basis I manage the clinical care of patients who require a lung transplant. Whether it is rounding on the wards following their transplant, collaborating with the team to ensure optimal recovery to ‘running the list of patients’ with the interdisciplinary team ensuring we’re all on the ‘same page’ for each patient’s care. This process may require ordering investigations to evaluate the patients condition, monitoring bloodwork abnormalities, and adjusting/titrating medications and immunosuppression. In the midst of patient care, I respond to inquiries from various disciplines (social worker, physiotherapist, nurses at the bedside, occupational therapist, physician) requesting information regarding each patient I follow, whilst answering pages from various departments in this behemoth institution; one that delivers exceptional care to this specialized population. The morning has passed, patient care has been organized and I’m off to clinic in the afternoon. A modest team sees a vast group of patients who are waiting for or have had a lung transplant. These patients are complex, diverse and typically quite frightened, so I examine, review results and convey information using soft words, caring speech and humor; whichever makes them more at ease. I often haven’t eaten (perhaps a couple of digestive cookies), have had to attend various meetings in the midst of this hectic week, interrupting the time I need to address all the patient care needs of the day. In between seeing patients in the outpatient clinic, I think “did I remember to order that repeat chest x-ray”, and I must follow-up on that investigation after clinic.

I reflect on the distress I saw on the face of a mother whose daughter is facing another transplant and make a mental note to have another discussion with her tomorrow. Clinic is finally at an end and I follow-up on any inpatient matters before leaving the hospital. The 25minute subway is a blessing; my thoughts are my own, until I reach home. A hasty dinner leads me to my study where I spend focused time teaching a Graduate course on line for Nurse Practitioner students. I wonder where I’ll find the time to grade their assignments (thankful I have a teaching assistant) in the midst of guiding them to higher learning as clinicians. I know that next term I will also have an NP student in clinical placement with me while on service. As the week draws to a close I organize my time for the weekends to come as I’m committed to revising a chapter in a nursing textbook, almost forgetting that I have to prepare a talk I’ve been asked to give in the coming months.

So this is my life as a Nurse Practitioner. It is one of clinical expertise, consultancy with our colleagues in health care, leadership in our organizations locally, nationally, internationally, research, advocacy and most of all caring for those who are vulnerable and in need. I am no different than my NP colleagues in our program, or in our organization or in our country. This is not only my story….

Susan Chernenko RN(EC) MN NP
Practice Leader/Program Development
Toronto Lung Transplant Program
Tel | 416-340-4800, x 6574
Pager | 416-790-1798
Associate Graduate Lecturer
Lawrence S Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing
University of Toronto

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