Introducing… an allergy nurse practitioner
Alvin Gutierrez is a nurse practitioner in the Allergy & Asthma and General Chest clinics at McMaster Children’s Hospital. He has worked at Hamilton Health Sciences for one year.
What made you enter your field of work?
My decision to enter pediatric nursing was driven by my long history of teaching Hip Hop. I enjoy working with young people, and have always felt like a kid at heart (I still do). After graduating in 2008, I worked at SickKids Cardiology until 2016. My drive to pursue additional education to become a pediatric nurse practitioner (NP) stemmed from working with many NPs and seeing the high quality care they are able to provide to patients and families. For those unfamiliar with the role, NPs are registered nurses in the extended class who have pursued additional education. This allows us to interpret diagnostic tests, communicate diagnoses, and prescribe. NPs typically employ a holistic approach to care, emphasizing health promotion and providing a wide range of high quality health care services. In addition to the above, I aim to enhance the quality of care our patients receive while reducing wait lists.
“Developing great relationships and knowing how others provide care to patients helps create and foster a collaborative environment.”
What do you love most about your job?
I certainly love working with children and families to achieve certain goals for their health. I also love that every day is different – I am split between a respirologist and an allergist within their clinics. I also have independent clinics where I see patients with a broad range of respiratory and/or allergic conditions. I also conduct oral food challenges for children who may have outgrown an allergy, or whom we believe may actually be able to tolerate certain food(s) that they have been labelled “allergic” to. I love the idea of freeing a child from a food allergy label (assuming they do well of course!). On my office days I spend time catching up with paperwork, and working on program development and educational initiatives. There’s always something interesting going on.
What do you wish you had more time for at work?
Some of our appointments can be as long as 1 – 2 hours (sometimes more) depending on the needs of our patients. It would be nice to have the time and space to spend more time with patients, especially those with complex or multiple health problems. It would also be great to spend a day in the life of another interdisciplinary team member once in a while. Developing great relationships and knowing how others provide care to patients helps create and foster a collaborative environment.
What are your favourite ways to spend your free time?
My fiancé and I have recently purchased a home that we are renovating, and we’re also getting married in the Spring of 2017. Hence, our free time consists of wedding planning and house projects, and the occasional outing with close friends. Aside from that, I particularly enjoy Olympic Weightlifting, and on some days (especially rainy days), I enjoy doing absolutely nothing.
Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS
This may sound cheesy, but honestly every day is quite gratifying. I always think back to my first day, where I had no idea what I was doing, and I had put a lot of pressure on myself. I track all of the patients I see, and collect data on how my role is contributing to patient care. I look at my tracking document every day, and it’s gratifying to think of how far I’ve come. From a patient care perspective, the most gratifying days are the ones where patients return for follow-up and have not only implemented our recommendations, they have developed the motivation to do so.
“The possibilities are endless here!”
What are your short and long term career goals?
My goal when I first started included ensuring that our wait lists were kept short, and allowing the division to take in more patients while improving the standard/quality of care. In the short span of a year, I have achieved this through developing independent NP follow-up clinics, and participating in collaborative clinics with physicians and allied health members. I hope to continue to do this!
In the long term I hope to continue working on my goals above to enhance quality of care and to continuing functioning to my full scope. I have always been interested in research and academics – In the future I would love to participate in studies or conduct my own, and be more involved with universities by becoming a preceptor or adjunct professor. The possibilities are endless here!