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A nurse practitioner stands in portrait
August 13, 2018

Introducing… a nurse practitioner

Usha Chauhan is a nurse practitioner in the adult digestive disease clinic at Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) McMaster University Medical Centre (MUMC). She has worked at HHS since the late 1970s including some time away to work in the community until her return in 1989.

She trained in the United Kingdom (UK) as a registered nurse and midwife before immigrating to Canada where she furthered her education including a Master of Nursing and an acute care nurse practitioner diploma.

What do you do?

My primary focus is on patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Since I returned to HHS close to 30 years ago, I worked in gastroenterology as a study coordinator for numerous sponsored and investigator initiated drug trials, including upper and lower functional gastrointestinal disorders and gastric pacemaker studies.

As a nurse practitioner, I see IBD patients in the nurse practitioner-led clinic. I also work with the gastroenterologist to offer phone advice to IBD patients. I also conduct nurse-led research.

What made you enter your field of work?

I wanted to be a nurse since I was very young. In my community, as an Indian in the UK, this job was viewed as a dirty job. My mother supported my decision and encouraged me to pursue my aspirations. She always had an answer to anyone who made any negative comment by saying, ‘who will take care of you when you are sick in the hospital’.

Initially I started in the gastroenterology field because I could work during the daytime. As the years went by, I learned a lot about IBD management and how it affects patients’ lives.

My physician partners give me an opportunity to excel in my role.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about your role?

When I started nursing school at age 18, I was told by a matron I would not enter the registered nurse program. She felt I would not complete the program as I only had a basic secondary school diploma.

I had to achieve an advance level high school diploma in three subjects—English, math and science—within the first six months of starting the program. Since then, I was the only person who graduated from my class with a dual degree. I continued to work hard to earn my master’s degree to allow me to work as nurse practitioner.

Who inspires you?

Firstly, my family. They do not complain when I work long hours, both at the hospital and while at home doing various committee and research work.

Secondly, my physician partners, who encourage me to excel in my role at HHS. They provide an opportunity to be involved at the local level and on a global scale to provide IBD care and to conduct nursing research.

What do you hope to accomplish while at HHS?

To date, I achieved a lot personally and professionally with all the committee work within and outside HHS.

I received two grants, including one from HHS to conduct nursing lead research studies. Four years ago, I played a key role in establishing the Canadian Nurses Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Group.

I also co-authored articles in a peer review journal, an IBD nurse consensus guideline, practice guidelines, as well as presented abstracts as oral and poster presentations locally, nationally and internationally on the work we do at HHS. Recently, I wrote a book chapter on the clinic model in IBD care.