Sue Sanderson is a Chronic Cardiac Care Nurse Practitioner; whose principal cohort of patients is those with heart failure. She believes in the vitality of providing motivational support to her patients and is active in encouraging them to maintain a healthy lifestyle, within the capacity of their diagnosis. Sue is focused on improving care in both the acute and community settings. She is involved in the investigation of the future cardiac rehabilitation program via telehealth and increasing the home monitoring service for heart failure patients.
Tell us a little bit about your nursing journey.
I have had a strong interest in cardiac nursing from my days as a student and had many years working in a combined intensive care/coronary care unit. I became a Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR) specialist in the early 1990s with the establishment of the Tasmanian Cardiothoracic Unit at the Royal Hobart Hospital and worked as the CR coordinator for ten years before taking on the nurse manager role in the CT unit while continuing a very close link with CR.
Tell us about your current role as a NP.
I provide education and support to patients who have been diagnosed with heart failure. This may be during a hospital admission but more commonly in clinics and by telephone follow-ups.
Part of my role is to up-titrate guideline recommended therapies to best tolerated doses, monitoring responses to therapy and providing review in clinics. The goal is to prevent readmission to hospital. Many of these patients also attend our cardiac rehab program and I complete pre- and post-program assessments.
I find it very rewarding and unique to have the time to develop a relationship with the patients and the immediate family, supporting the best health outcomes we can achieve together. It’s an indescribable feeling to know that they trust my management of their condition.
What influenced your decision to become a NP? Why did you choose your scope of practice?
I was influenced by colleagues in other specialties who were undertaking their Masters. I am grateful for the support we provided to each other as we completed our studies.
There was a need identified for a NP to support patients with heart failure and my long-time interest in cardiac disease and cardiac rehabilitation provided the motivation. Additionally, there was a perceived gap in the service offered for patients with heart failure and the role of NP was seen to be a way to fill that gap in providing education and support and ongoing management to prevent hospital admission and improve quality of life.
What are you hoping to achieve in your current role as a Nurse Practitioner?
I believe it is important to keep maintaining evidence-based practice within the service and looking at ways we can improve our care in both the acute and community settings in which we operate. We are currently investigating the possibility of offering our cardiac rehab program via telehealth and increasing the home monitoring service for heart failure patients.
The former will increase access to cardiac rehab for patients who are unable to get to a centre where it is provided. The latter further supports our aim to reduce hospital readmission for heart failure patients. It may include videoconference consultations to reduce transport imposts for isolated patients. Ongoing service review is an important aspect of the care we offer.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become a NP?
Go for it! No better time than currently to demonstrate the value to health delivery in this country that can be provided by experienced and well-qualified nurses who aim to provide holistic care.
But you need support from your organisation – peer support from a NP and some assurance of a position on qualification. For the established NPs, we need succession planning and by encouraging and supporting others to undertake the study, it helps ensure the sustainability of NP services be that in the public, private or primary care sectors.