Meet Alexsi Giardino, future nurse practitioner
Oct 5, 2020
Photo above: Alexsi Giardino
Alexsi Giardino always knew that she wanted to pursue a career in healthcare. While completing her degree in the Honours Life Science program at McMaster University, she volunteered at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton and witnessed at first-hand the meaningful impact that nurses have on their patients.
“I learned that while many health care providers have the ability to make essential contributions to patient care, there is a special bond that is at the heart of the nurse-patient relationship that is unlike any other,” says Giardino. This personal experience inspired Giardino to become a nurse.
Gardino completed her nursing degree at the University of Toronto in 2016 and started her nursing career on a surgical unit at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. She later took a position in the intensive care unit where she has been working as a critical care nurse since.
In 2018, Giardino returned to McMaster University to enter the Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner (PHCNP) Program. This is a master’s level program that is designed to provide registered nurses with the skills and competencies required to provide care to patients within a broader scope of practice in the primary health care setting. Nurse practitioners have the ability to assess and diagnose patients, provide counseling and education on lifestyle and disease management, order medications and evaluate patient outcomes through follow-up and consultation.
Giardino continues to work part-time as a registered nurse while pursuing her education on a full-time basis. It’s a demanding schedule that requires careful balancing but she is motivated by several nursing mentors who have encouraged her career development and have been a constant source of guidance throughout the program.
After graduating, Giardino plans to specialize in cardiology. “I find the heart is the most fascinating organ in the body,” she says. “It beats in a tightly regulated, coordinated fashion, continuously adapting its activity to the needs and state of the body and person as a whole. It can accelerate to power the speed of an athlete, slow during periods of rest and relaxation and over time can be weakened from disease.”
Giardino says that one of the main reasons that she is passionate about cardiology is that many chronic conditions that are encountered in the primary healthcare setting are directly related to cardiovascular health. “Whether it involves recommendations for disease prevention or a referral for complex treatment, cardiac nurse practitioners have an important contribution to patients across the continuum of their care,” she says.
Giardino chose the program at McMaster University for many reasons, including the community and the hospitals affiliated with the school. “I appreciate the self-directed, evidence-based learning format and wide variety of clinical opportunities the university offers ranging from community-based centres, family health teams and acute care settings. In addition, the nursing faculty members at McMaster offer a strong research expertise in areas of illness prevention, health equity and health system integration, which is integral for student development and practice. Overall, I would highly recommend the program for any new aspiring NP student.”
The Ontario Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner (PHC NP) Programme is offered through a consortium of nine Ontario universities, including McMaster. The program was established in 1995. At McMaster, there are currently 20 students enrolled in this program.