On a sunny day in Kamloops in the summer of 2012, Julie Cinel was enjoying time with her family, including her three-year-old and 10-month-old children, when she experienced the last thing she ever expected to happen. She had a myocardial infarction, or in every day terms, a heart attack.
As an operating room nurse, she knew the heartburn, light-headedness, irregular heartbeat, and a squeeze on her left arm could be signs that a heart attack was occurring. However, since there was no history of health issues or risk factors, Cinel waited a few hours before heading to her local emergency department. Blood work at the hospital revealed an elevation in cardiac enzymes typical of a myocardial infarction. Cinel was taken by ambulance to Kelowna where she had an angioplasty resulting in two stents in one of her coronary arteries.
Thankfully, there were no complications and Cinel recovered quickly.
However, during this time Cinel questioned whether she would continue with the UBC Nursing course she was enrolled in, and whether she was interested in completing graduate studies at all.
“Up until this point I had been enjoying the program and had been doing well, but now the question remained as to whether I felt this path was a worthy focus of my time and resources,” said Cinel.
It took some reflection, and a conversation with a fellow nurse, to help Cinel make a decision.
“One nurse, who took care of me at my most vulnerable time, shared her story of having survived a cardiac event much worse than mine. She was also young and clearly had much of her life to look forward to. She not only helped to allay my fears, but she made clear the incredible role that nurses have in guiding their patients through extremely difficult times. There was no question that this journey was worth continuing. I e-mailed my UBC supervisor [Professor Sally Thorne] a few days later to let her know I would be continuing with my studies.”
Cinel also cites the encouragement of nursing leaders at the UBC School of Nursing in helping her make a decision to continue her graduate studies.
“I also knew there was safety, and a deeper level of understanding that would come from nursing leaders at UBC, who demonstrate their dedication to a caring profession through their very career choices.”
Cinel is looking forward to the future with a renewed sense of strength from undergoing and overcoming the adversity of a serious health challenge.
“There is a part of me that feels unstoppable. I have an incredible sense of pride for this accomplishment, and eagerly look forward to the next stages of my career. I hope to become a nurse educator… and continue my work with policy and professional advancement.”
Cinel received a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree at the fall 2013 convocation. Under the supervision of Professor Sally Thorne, her research looked at nurse anesthetists and the potential role they can play in the health care system.
[From a School of Nursing News article dated November 2013]
— UPDATE 2018-07-19 —
Julie Cinel has been kind enough to provide us with this update to her story:
Since graduation, I (thankfully) have had no further complications with my heart. I fulfilled my goal of becoming involved in education by acquiring a full time tenure track appointment as lecturer at Thompson Rivers University. I found that experiencing a health issue of this nature has changed the way I interact with patients. I no longer feel like I am imposing on people’s personal journey with little insight on how they might feel, rather I have a different kind of confidence approaching my patients. I truly believe that one of the most impactful ways that a nurse can influence their patient is through the way that they communicate with them. Connecting with patients at a very deep level allows us to truly understand what that person needs in order to achieve their personal health goals. It is part of our job. I try to instill this deeper understanding of the nurse as a relational practitioner in my students. I teach a 3rd year relational practice theory course, and specialize in the perioperative specialty. Policy and professional advancement have continued to be my interests. I have served as a Regional Director for the Interior for ARNBC, and also am currently in the President-Elect position for PRNABC. I am thankful to be a nurse, and to advocate for this profession every single day.