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Leading NP practice in Ontario: Five minutes with Marnee Wilson

Toronto, December 29, 2014

By Emily Holton

Marnee Wilson
Marnee Wilson

St. Michael’s cardiovascular surgery nurse practitioner and professional practice leader Marnee Wilson has been awarded the Nurse Practitioner Association of Ontario’s most prestigious award: the Jerry Gerow Nurse Practitioner Leadership Award. We caught up with Wilson in the Heart and Vascular Program area, between patient visits.

“I really believe in the role of the NP, as part of the interprofessional care team. Every day, I can see how NP practice contributes to a better patient experience and better outcomes.

When the legislation changed in 2011 allowing NPs to admit, treat and prescribe to patients in Ontario hospitals, I felt strongly that the role needed to be championed. This was going to make a big difference for increasing Ontarians’ access to care. And I had been doing this for a while – I’d seen the benefits. I thought there might be something I could contribute.

Winning this award was a total, complete surprise. I’ve worked with the association for a long time, and they knew that if I found out that I was being presented with something, I wouldn’t come to the event! So it was kept a big secret. When the president started reading the award-winner’s bio, I thought, ‘How strange, I thought I knew all the cardiac NPs – I want to meet this person!’ And then I looked around and saw everyone grinning at me…

I’ve been at St. Michael’s since 2000. Here’s why I work here: My dad had bypass surgery here twice, once at age 40 – I was 10 – and then again when he was 55. Years later, when he was visiting the U.S., he had another cardiac arrest and collapsed on the sidewalk. A bystander did CPR and he was taken to a local hospital. I was a heart and vascular NP by then, and I was convinced he needed an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. They weren’t widely available at that time, and he couldn’t get one where he was. I called St. Michael’s and got a resident to speak to me. I wasn’t working here yet and didn’t know anyone in the program, but I knew that St. Michael’s was where my dad needed to be.

St. Michael’s found my dad a bed, he got the ICD, and he lived another 10 years. The kind of human, compassionate care he received here all those years really moved me. And I was just so thankful that they took him. I knew I wanted to work at St. Michael’s.

I became an NP because I wanted to help people move through this episode of illness safely, expeditiously and in meaningful way. The change in our scope of practice has helped me do that. It’s important to find meaning in what you do, and I certainly do. Every day there are opportunities to help in a real way.”

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.