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Sheena Vernon

Sheena VernonI am the Lead Nurse Congenital Heart Disease Network which I started mid- October 2016. My early experience was as a Sister in the Cardiac Intensive Care, which in the early days cared for children undergoing cardiac surgery. The adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) service was expanding and I was appointed clinical nurse specialist 14yrs ago and Lead Nurse for the service in 2014. The service supports adult patients born with congenital heart disease when they are undergoing cardiac surgery, cardiology interventions, in-patients with heart failure, arrhythmias, endocarditis or at the end of life. Two hundred young people transfer to the Bristol Heart Institute each year from the Children's Hospital and are seen in our teenage and young adult clinics. The cardiac obstetric service supports women with congenital heart disease through pregnancy. A number of patients with congenital heart disease have Learning Disabilities and the Clinical Nurse Specialist team support them during in patient stays and preparing them for procedures. I completed my Masters in 2010 and this was very helpful in terms of helping me to develop the service.  

Starting in 2012 was involved in the Clinical Advisory group for the NHS England Adult Congenital Heart Disease standards, representing the Royal College of Nursing. This was valuable experience in understanding the congenital heart disease network.  Alongside this I was involved in the writing of Royal College of Nursing document, 'Adult Congenital Heart Disease Nursing; RCN guidance on roles, career pathways and competence development' (2015). I was a founding member of The British Adult Congenital Cardiac Nurses Association (BACCNA) group and was president of this group for five years.

Until recently I have been based in the Bristol Heart Institute. It has been great to work in such a modern, light and peaceful building. 

"There are excellent cardiac teams and a number of very cohesive Clinical Nurse Specialist teams with a Nurse Consultant who is very supportive of the development of nursing."

Following up patients with lifelong cocardiac conditions is very rewarding.

The advise i would give to someone looking into this line of work is; think carefully about the clinical, education or management issues you are really interested in and be intentional about planning your career around them.  Develop your skills and knowledge by attending training and conferences. Work in appropriate places to increase your experience and continue to build up a well planned Curriculum Vittae C.V.