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A cardiac registered nurse first assistant stands in portrait.
March 4, 2019

Introducing… a cardiac registered nurse first assistant

Faye Browne is a cardiac registered nurse first assistant (RNFA) in perioperative services at Hamilton General Hospital. She works in the hospital’s cardiac surgery operating rooms and has been with Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) for over 34 years.

Faye received the Margaret R. Charters Nursing Bursary in 2012. She is also a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society and the Registered Nurse First Assistant Network of Canada.

What does an RNFA do?

During an operation, I use a technical skill set to assist our cardiac surgeons with handling tissue, using surgical instruments, suturing and knot tying, providing hemostasis (the act of preventing excessive blood loss) and harvesting conduit to create a new blood flow connection across the heart.

On a typical day, I also handle preoperative physical assessments and plan for selective cardiac surgical patients. The cardiac surgery team has many roles within it. We collaborate in the post-operation phase to evaluate selected patients and their outcomes of perioperative nursing care. This includes, for example, positioning, wound healing, surveillance of surgical site infections and bleeding.

I also teach surgical techniques to medical and nursing students as well as residents.

I enjoy being part of a surgical team that has a significant impact on a patient’s well-being through altering and increasing life expectancy.

What do you love most about your job?

I am proud and privileged to work at HHS in one of the RNFA roles. I enjoy being part of a surgical team that has a significant impact on a patient’s well-being through altering and increasing life expectancy.

Our team is dedicated, efficient, effective and financially responsible. We’re committed to our program, the cardiac patient population, research and innovation now and beyond. I like paying it forward to the benefit of others.

What made you enter your field of work?

So many reasons to choose from. I’m fascinated with the amount of leading edge technology, continuous education, problem solving, innovation and constant change in this area.

I also wanted to advance nursing practice. In the 1980s, the RNFA role was identified as one to advance perioperative nurses practice. I knew then this would be my long-term goal because at that time the RNFA role was just being developed in Canada.

This is a technically challenging skill of artistry that takes time to learn.

After completing my registered nurse first assistant certification in addition to a Master’s of Science in Nursing and Education, my dream became a reality thanks to HHS and our cardiac surgeons.

I practice a unique role providing leadership, excellence in perioperative nursing care for the cardiac surgical patient and family through the components of expert clinical practice, consultation, specialized education and leadership. I feel I am an ambassador and assistant to all of my professional colleagues.

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

One aspect of the cardiac RNFA role is to harvest vein, which is used as the conduits for the coronary artery bypasses.

This is a technically challenging skill of artistry that takes time to learn. People are both surprised and impressed by this aspect of my role. The general comment is “how cool is that!”

 

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