Anie Brisebois: from the emergency room to nursing director


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Anie Brisebois joined the big Montreal Heart Institute family just after obtaining her bachelor’s degree in nursing, and she has never left. She still has all the enthusiasm of the early days more than 30 years after joining the team, and she now shines as director of nursing. Honest and passionate about her profession, she enthusiastically shares her career and achievements with us.

A calling to care for others

From an early age, this future nurse was recognized within her clan as the one who protected her family and ensured their safety. “Taking care of others was always part of my personality,” says Ms. Brisebois. “I’m also quite tall, which may have enhanced my profile as a ‘saviour’ with my friends,” adds the six-foot-tall woman.

Her interest in cardiology developed during her studies at the Université de Montréal. “I knew right away that I wanted to work at the Montreal Heart Institute. The heart is the centre of everything. If it’s not working, everything stops.” Her first contact with patients confirmed that she had made the right decision. Reassuring and always ready to listen, she quickly learned that she could make a difference in their lives. “It’s incredible what kind of impact you can have just by holding someone’s hand or sharing a comforting word. I’m addicted to the recognition I get from patients. The adrenaline that comes with bringing a patient in critical condition to the emergency room, too. Just talking about it gives me goosebumps!”

From practice to management: a rich and varied journey

When she set foot in the Montreal Heart Institute, this young nurse had no idea what her career had in store for her. “I’ve never been career-oriented. I live intensely in the present moment, and I’ve only seized the opportunities that have presented themselves to me.” And there have been plenty of opportunities! Guided by Ms. Odette Doyon, her mentor who was then nurse coordinator of the Institute’s training and orientation program, she increased her opportunities for learning and gaining experience.

As a nurse, she visited several critical-care units, from the emergency room to surgical intensive care. “Ms. Doyon also convinced me that I would be a good candidate to take on course loads at the university. So for 16 years I taught critical and cardiovascular nursing to future nurses. She was also the one who steered me towards a master’s degree in nursing sciences, counsellor profile.” Juggling studies, teaching, and work at the same time, she drew all her energy from her keen interest in her profession and the pleasure she derived from passing it on.

Mobilizing staff around her values

Quickly, Anie Brisebois rose through the ranks of the Institute. By becoming a counsellor, she carried out several improvements and support projects for nurses in their practice. By opening up to management in 2016, she assumed an increasingly important leadership role. “Since 2019, when I became director of nursing, I feel that my influence and responsibilities are much greater. I try to pass on my values of fairness, justice, and kindness to my management team so that they can in turn pass them on to their nurses. I also try to spot talent and open doors for them by playing the role of mentor myself.”

Guided by her values, this director ensures safe practices and manages the quality of care provided by nurses, while updating certain practices and developing the best possible expertise in the cutting-edge field of cardiology. Proof that her dedication is appreciated within the Institute, she received four Recognition awards during her career from her colleagues in nursing and management. Distinctions that highlight her remarkable contribution to the Institute.

The creation of a palliative care program at the Montreal Heart Institute

A stimulating and significant challenge in her career was undoubtedly the establishment of a palliative and end-of-life care program for patients with advanced or rapid cardiovascular disease that significantly compromises prognosis and survival. “It was something that was missing. We had aging patients, patients in intensive care who were unconscious, intubated, and for whom families had to make difficult decisions. We needed a program to frame the ethical and moral challenges related to the accompaniment of these patients at the end of their lives, as well as their families.”

The nurse counsellor consequently created a palliative care committee, on which she worked jointly with a psychiatrist. For several years, she met patients and supported teams and families. An enriching and unforgettable experience for this dedicated woman. “I’m so fortunate to have shared these intense moments with such incredible people. They let me into their private circle at such a pivotal moment in their lives. I made sure that they were well supported and that they had access to the care and professionals they needed. By listening to them with kindness, I recognized their suffering and brought them comfort. Those human experiences have nourished my entire career.”

The chance to work in a cutting-edge institute

What distinguishes the Montreal Heart Institute from other institutions? “At the Institute, we work with the cream of the crop of kind-hearted people, who always aim for the best and for excellence. There is no compromising on this.” Between all the staff members, relations are cordial, and the spirit of collaboration is always present. “Everyone knows each other, we’re like one big family. Our expertise is recognized and we all work together to achieve the same goal, hand in hand.”

Since her arrival, Ms. Brisebois has observed the immense impact that research has on patients’ lives, and recognizes the opportunity she has had to work on the front lines of scientific and technological breakthroughs. “When I started my career, heart attack treatment was not the same as it is today. Basically, we were putting out fires and dealing with the complications. Now, treatment is fast, effective, and helps prevent further complications from the heart attack, which greatly improves results. It is really stimulating to see the concrete evolution and impact of research on the patient.”

Stimulating careers thanks to the Foundation’s contribution

By supporting the training and specialization of nurses, the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation offers attractive career prospects to nursing staff. “By awarding fellowships to employees, the Foundation supports us in our quest for excellence. Working at the Institute means seeing your expertise recognized, commanding the respect of your peers, enjoying great autonomy and leeway to act, and having access to continuing education.”

The Director of Nursing is adamant that she can’t imagine working anywhere else than the Montreal Heart Institute. “It’s a special place. As long as I can influence the course of things and do what I do best on a daily basis while respecting my values, I will stay here.”

To contribute to cardiovascular research and rigorous cutting-edge training, make a donation to the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation.


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