A Passion for CV Care: Here’s my “why” – what's yours?

Thursday, August 8, 2019 | Terri McDonald

When I was five years old, my Halloween costume was a blue cape, a nurse’s cap, and a black satchel. Like many of you, I was inexplicably drawn to healthcare. At 21, I donned a cap interestingly like the one in that Halloween costume, and began a career in nursing. That career ultimately led me to a passion for cardiovascular care.

A few years into my nursing career I was offered a position in the cardiovascular ICU on the night shift team. The experienced cardiac nurses became my heroes and the brilliant young cardiologist who started an interventional program at the hospital was a superhero. I was hooked. There would be other opportunities that led to diverse experiences, but I always stayed involved in cardiology and CT surgery. Ultimately, I returned to the work I found so fascinating, motivating, and worthwhile. Why am I so passionate about cardiovascular care? It is work focused on saving lives.

Hello, Healthcare Economics

During my years in nursing – and subsequently, quality improvement, hospital leadership and service line management – I listened to cardiologists and surgeons argue for emerging technologies and the human resources needed to advance cardiovascular care. As reimbursement became more attractive, hospital administrators realized the return on investment in cardiovascular programs.

My first real-life example of how economics impact health outcomes came when a patient my own age was turned down for a transplant. This was her only treatment option at that time and she was denied because she was uninsured. I was suddenly aware of the actual costs of the work we were doing. I was even more shocked that caregivers would refuse lifesaving care – not because of cost – but because there was no funding for the costs.

The magic of saving lives in the clinical setting has never left me. But the memory of this uninsured patient altered my view of healthcare – so much so that I walked away from critical care. I went back and left several more times before my passion finally shifted from clinical practice to pursuing equitable access, timeliness and quality of care delivery.

Over time, I learned that it’s critical to have collaboration, trust and an alignment between physicians and hospital leaders if we want to plan and deliver care in a way that puts the patient first. I’ve also learned that supporting and assuring healthy margins is the means to the right end. In my experience, the latter is the easier of the two to attain and the real work is in relationships and collaboration. How do we get there? It requires innovative thinking – something the cardiovascular team excels at – and trust.  In order to make shared decisions we all must be on the same team!

As a MedAxiom consultant, I’m excited to apply my lifelong passion for advancing cardiology and cardiovascular care to help our clients succeed. I will work with the entire cardiovascular care team to understand challenges and design collaborative, practical solutions using evidence-based guidelines and emerging technologies. I’d love to hear about your journey in cardiovascular care, and about your team’s goals, current challenges, and successes in creating patient-centric care. Send me a message! 

Read more about Terri on MedAxiom’s Team page.



Illustration: Lee Sauer

About the Author
Terri McDonald

Terri McDonald, RN, MBA, CPHQ is Vice President, MedAxiom Consulting. She brings extensive knowledge and experience in leading, managing and optimizing every level of the cardiovascular service line. Following a clinical career in cardiac and critical care nursing, Terri gained a diverse knowledge of administrative, operations and clinical nursing management in the acute care setting. As VP of Consulting Terri fulfills her lifelong passion for cardiology and cardiovascular care helping her clients succeed through understanding challenges and designing collaborative, practical solutions using evidence-based guidelines and emerging technologies.

To contact, email: tmcdonald@medaxiom.com

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