1. COULD YOU PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF?
My name is Paula Barrett and I am the Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Nurse Coordinator at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I have been a nurse at the IWK for the past 36 years and I have been the CF Nurse Coordinator for the past 30 years. Our clinic follows about 95 patients from the Maritime Provinces.
2. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO WORK IN A CF CLINIC?
I chose to work in CF because I had several close connections to friends with CF in school and I also have CF in my family. My younger brother was diagnosed with CF at age 11 years. When I was in the Nursing Program, I decided to do my elective on the Pediatric Respiratory ward so that I could learn more about CF. The CF Nurse Coordinator did a presentation to our class about CF and her role as a program Coordinator. After her talk, I remember thinking that I would like to do her job one day. It had a lot of variety, working with a team of health care providers, patient teaching and follow-up, research, clinic work, school and home visits. It also involved some travelling clinics to Cape Breton, Fredericton, NB and PEI. Luckily, the Coordinator job became available and I was the successful candidate. I think I chose well, I still love my job after 30 years!
3. WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE?
A typical day at work is usually nonstop from the time I arrive. My day includes phone call follow-ups, answering emails, meeting with other CF team members, reviewing clinic patients, both inpatients and outpatients. Coordinating admissions and discharges and rounding on the inpatients. Attending or chairing meetings, teaching with patients and families as well as other health care professionals about CF. Working with partners in the community, educating them about CF. Participating in Research and fundraising. Maintaining our database and working on quality Improvement projects.
4. WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST HIGHLIGHT OF WORKING WITH PEOPLE LIVING WITH CF FOR YOU?
My greatest highlight of working with people living with CF is celebrating their successes; from learning to swallow enzymes to graduating from grade 12; or getting sports awards, or a new puppy. I love seeing the healthy teenagers graduate to our Adult CF Program. It was very different when I first started in the CF program; we had a lot of sick teenagers, now the majority of them are healthy. I love working with the patients and families because they teach you so much. I am also blessed to be working with a wonderful CF team. It is also so rewarding to be a part of the CF community when there have been such great advancements in CF from the gene discovery to the new drug therapies that alter the CFTR protein.
5. WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO SUPPORT CF CANADA?
I think it is important to support CF Canada because they provide funding, education and support to all the CF Clinics across Canada. They support our teams and well as the patients and families. CF Canada also supports all the volunteers that work in the many CF Chapter across Canada. They provide funds for research, provide educational materials, and maintain the CF database which will soon allow patients to access their own data. We currently print CF report cards from the registry for patients each clinic visit. Canadians with CF have the best survival in the world and this would not have been as successful if it wasn’t for CF Canada.