Our people: You’ve come a long way baby

Nurse just loves learning

By Lisa Dutton

The year was 1971, the Canadian Prime Minister was Pierre Elliott Trudeau; the Premier of Quebec was Robert Bourassa; Conrad Black bought his first newspaper, The Sherbrooke Record; Anne Murray won the Juno for best Canadian vocalist thanks to the song Snowbird; a gallon of gas in the US cost 50 cents; and Nancy Jones started working as a nurse in the ICU at The Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Within six years, Nancy moved over to cardiology, where she has stayed for the past 31 years. “I’m often asked how I could spend over 30 years in the same department,” says Nancy. “To tell the truth, I just love what I do. I’ve enjoyed the challenges, enjoyed learning how to use the new equipment and how to perform the latest procedures. I’m always learning.”

During her tenure, the department of pediatric cardiology has changed radically. “When I started, so many babies died because there was nothing we could do. Today, many children are treated using interventional cardiology procedures, which can avoid or delay surgery. And most of our patients are transitioning to adult care.”

While nowhere near ready to retire, Nancy has been working on her legacy. The book aptly named Nancy’s Book is a 150-page – and growing – binder chronicling every known pediatric heart defect with pictures, explanations and the different types of treatments and surgery available. “It’s a mini encyclopedia offering a quick overview of each condition,” she says.

Nancy is a little embarrassed by the book’s title and is quick to point out that Cardiac surgeon Dr. Joe Martucci, an MUHC Interventional Cardiologist, dubbed it The Nancy Book.

This isn’t the only book authored by the nurse clinician. Nancy also penned the booklet Cardiac Catheterization, outlining what will happen before, during and after a child undergoes this heart procedure. It is a terrific tool for patients and parents.

Nancy feels privileged to be part of the MCH Cardiac Catheterization team, led by Dr. Adrian Dancea. She describes her colleagues as a “terrific group of individuals who form a dynamic and close-knit team that has always indulged her quest for learning.” This isn’t the only team she roots for. Weekends and evenings, you’ll find Nancy down at the ol’ ball field where she is a certified scorekeeper at the AAA and AA levels.

“I enjoy sports as a fan,” she says. “My kids are very athletic so taking the two-day score keeper course allowed me to get more involved in the game.” In fact, this summer she kept the score during a big interprovincial tournament and the Quebec provincial championships. What she does is equivalent to the play-by-play of the game. Anyone reading her scoresheet should be able to understand exactly what happened during each time at bat.

During Nancy’s turn at bat at the MCH, the nursing profession changed significantly. Nancy has a good giggle every time she flips through one of her old nurse training manuals because invariably no matter what the patient is suffering the only instruction to the nurse was ‘Follow the doctor’s orders.” Nancy notes with relief that the nursing profession has changed dramatically since then.

Looking around today, Nancy is amazed that many of the residents and nurses she trains weren’t even alive when she began her career. She offers a few words of wisdom for those who have just joined the nursing profession or those contemplating a nursing career. “The profession of nursing is not a ‘job’. I’ve been told I have a passion for my work in cardiology. So I would say: find a passion, follow it, ask questions, get involved, and do research. Learn your specialty and then pass what you have learned on to others. You will enjoy the rewards: the respect you get from others and the respect for yourself knowing that you give and gave all you can to your patients. Remember: knowledge is power! After 30 years in pediatric cardiology and especially in interventional cardiology, I am still learning and I still love keeping up-to-date.”
ulatory Care Service (Iacs) / Clinical Investigation Unit