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Clinical nurse specialist prepares to administer insulin to a female patient
November 15, 2017

Introducing… a diabetes clinical nurse specialist

Lisa Maks is a diabetes clinical nurse specialist based at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre and St. Peter’s Hospital. She is also an associate clinical professor at McMaster School of Nursing and Thesis Advisor for Royal Roads University in Victoria, B.C. Lisa has been in her current role with Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) for seven years.

What do you love most about your role?

The interactions I have with patients and families as well as my colleagues is a big part of why I love my job. The variety of people I work with on a daily basis is exciting. I also love the leadership aspect of my role. It allows me to implement practice changes for inpatient units that improve the management of diabetes, which creates a better patient experience.

What do you find challenging?

I find it a challenge to balance the needs of every inpatient unit at my two sites. Moving projects forward can be a difficult task sometimes. One of my other responsibilities is preparing diabetes discharge bundles for the emergency department, so it can be challenging to find time to assess and implement practice change initiatives while I manage the other aspects of my role.

I think people are surprised when I tell them I cover the needs of two hospitals. It’s a big job, but I truly enjoy every day.

Describe a typical day

I typically start my day at 7:30 am and start to gather patient referrals, lab results and histories. Throughout the morning, I consult with patients who have trouble managing their diabetes. By the afternoon, it’s a mixed bag. I often sit on committees, do some research, plan projects and meet with other staff, students or physicians.

Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS

The most gratifying experience would have to be when we started using pens to deliver insulin. This conversion is a best practice in diabetes management and reduced the risks involved such as mixing insulin together or intramuscular injections. This was a change I was helping to push through for some time. I’m grateful we can make changes at the unit level when we see the opportunity. When our employee engagement survey is sent to everyone at HHS, I make sure to make my voice heard then try to follow up on improvements I really want to see happen in our hospitals.

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

I think people are surprised when I tell them I cover the needs of two hospitals. Many people believe I just look after their unit. It’s a big job, but I truly enjoy every day. It allows me to fully implement the competencies of the clinical nurse specialist role. It’s the most rewarding work I’ve ever done and I know has potential to impact the patient and staff experience at HHS.