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Celebrating Algoma's NPs on National Nurse Practitioner Week



In honour of National Nurse Practitioner Week, the AOHT would like to showcase some of the amazing NPs in our community. We interviewed NPs across a wide array of specialties, including primary care, acute care, and long-term care, to discuss their careers and approaches to their practice. Collaboration, flexibility, and interdisciplinarity are just a few of the words that the NPs that were interviewed used to describe their practice and we are so excited to shine a light on their many contributions to healthcare in the Algoma region. We celebrate you, we appreciate you, and above all we thank you for your hard work and dedication. Thank you NPs!


Meet Juli Briglio, MScN, PCN

Tell us a little about yourself. Where and when did you start your career? How long have you been a NP?

I was the second graduating class of Ontario NPs in 1999, receiving a Certificate in Primary Care from Laurentian University. Cumulatively, I have 35 years of health care related experience. I went back to Laurentian and graduated in 2016 with a Master of Science in Nursing. For the last 23 years until September of 2021 when I retired, I worked at the Group Health Centre in Family Practice and then Obstetrics and Genecology. I also have a special interest in Dermatology working alongside our visiting dermatologist Dr. Sibbald since 2016. I joined the Algoma Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic (ANPLC) clinic in January 2022 (I missed people). When I am not working, I am at the gym five to six days a week. I enjoy watching and attending live sporting events. I love travelling, hiking, cooking, crafting, playing cards, and hosting large family dinners.


If you could have dinner with anyone, whether it be a historical figure or someone in the present, who would it be?

There are a few names that come to mind: Brené Brown, Oprah Winfrey, Louise Hay, and Simon Sinek are all frontrunners but Hazel McCallion would be my first choice. She is the definition of a true pioneer. An amazing visionary, political and business leader, who lives life with purpose and continues to do so at the age of 101. I would like to ask her how she would tackle our current healthcare crisis.


What are the benefits of healthcare organizations having NPs?

NPs are now considered a point of access to primary care. The scope of practice has changed so much since I graduated. Initially the NP was a position of support to the medical model, but now it is an autonomous practice with the comparable responsibilities as other primary care providers. This role has evolved into something it was not intended to be, in my humblest opinion. Interestingly as the scope of practice changed, the role changed, the responsibility soared, and the expectation of what we are to manage increased, without the respect, acknowledgement, and other considerations of the profession. I am always asked what NPs can do and I have been answering this question for 23 years. Some NPs function in specialty programs, the majority of NPs function as Primary Care Providers. This means we can perform comprehensive assessment, order diagnostic tests, labs, ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRIs. We can diagnose and treat medical conditions, prescribe medications, and provide specialist referrals. We in collaboration with the patient come up with a treatment plan that may involve other interdisciplinary professionals. At NPLC's there is often supports within the clinic that the patients are able to access (ie. foot care, ECG, labs, 24 hour blood pressure monitoring). NPs can provide the majority of your healthcare needs.


What has been the most rewarding part of your career so far?

The most rewarding part of my career is the concept that called me to the profession. Working with people to achieve their highest level of health and wellness, whatever that may look like for them. When people make informed changes to manage their health and see results, that is rewarding. When people are happy, I am happy.


If you could use one word to describe your approach to your practice, what would it be?

My approach to practice is collaborative. With the current complexities you need a team of interdisciplinary professionals to optimize patient centred goals. Physician partners and NP colleagues are an essential part of my practice providing ongoing support and expertise.


Meet Danuta Nemeth, MScN PHC NP

Tell us a little about yourself. Where and when did you start your career? How long have you been a NP?

Prior to becoming a NP, I have been employed in the nursing profession for the past 35 years in a variety of settings including clinical, education, and administration. I have been working as an NP for the past 16 years. During my first few years, I spent time working in the Indigenous communities of James Bay and Sioux Lookout. In 2008, I started at Algoma Public Health and I have been working with this agency since.


If you could have dinner with anyone, whether it be a historical figure or someone in the present, who would it be?

My choice would be Dr. Gabor Mate, a family physician with a special interest in childhood development and trauma (ACEs) and its lifelong impact on one’s mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. If Dr. Mate turns me down, I would love to dine with the Dalai Lama!


What are the benefits of healthcare organizations having NPs?

The benefits include lower costs and improved access to healthcare. In addition to primary health care services, NPs are also employed in a variety of settings and specialties such as gerontology, pediatrics, neonatology, renal, cardiac, pain management, mental health and addictions, and many other specialties.


What has been the most rewarding part of your career so far?

The most rewarding part of my career has been contributing to the health and welfare of individuals and the community as a whole, supporting clients, especially those who are at vulnerable points in their lives, with kindness, care, and support.


If you could use one word to describe your approach to your practice, what would it be?

I would say flexibility. Meeting my clients where they are at in their respective journeys, bridging the gap between my own expectations and where the clients are coming from, listening with intention to understand their needs, values, desires, and possibly trauma responses.


Meet Lyndsay Suurna, NP-PHC, BScN, MScN, GNC(c)

Tell us a little about yourself. Where and when did you start your career? How long have you been a NP?

I was a registered nurse for 15 years and have been a Nurse Practitioner for 10 years. I completed my NP training through Laurentian and obtained my COUPN (Nurse Practitioner Council of Ontario University Programs). I started my career at the Algoma Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic and then went to the F.J. Davey Home. In 2012, I got my Primary Healthcare Certification for all ages and have since gone on to get my Masters of Science in Nursing from Laurentian. I am Gerontological Certified and I am also pursuing a Doctorate of Nursing. Currently, I am working at Sault College as a full-time teacher in the Post Graduate Gerontology program.


If you could have dinner with anyone, whether it be a historical figure or someone in the present, who would it be?

I’m always learning new things so the answer to this would vary at different times in my life. A friend has recently recommended David Sinclair’s work to me. He’s a Professor in the Department of Genetics at Harvard. I would like to sit down with him and discuss aging and how to slow down its effects, his current research, and how to apply it to the current population.


What are the benefits of healthcare organizations having NPs?

My beliefs have been influenced by my work experience and associations that are advocating for change. NPs are well positioned to be leaders in the healthcare industry and change it to be more equitable and inclusive. NPs can enhance quality patient care, help improve access to timely care, care coordination, and the continuity of care across all the healthcare settings. NPs are in a unique position to help with leadership and research and as our positions are unique by trade (e.g. we are nurses by trade) so we have the opportunity to be both on the front line and mentors in the industry.


What has been the most rewarding part of your career so far?

Working in long-term care during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was the highlight of my career. It was also the most difficult point of my career. It was rewarding because you knew you were making an impact in the lives of residents. The importance of working in long-term care was made even more clear by the pandemic. Helping residents meet goals, liaising with families during outbreaks, and providing education during hard times was very rewarding.


If you could use one word to describe your approach to your practice, what would it be?

Collaborative comes to mind. I like to engage patients to be a part of decision making. I have an interdisciplinary approach in the sense that I include different members of the healthcare team as they have different expertise that can help. Collaboration helps when creating a learning environment that helps the new generation. I have taken in both RN and NP students to help foster learning.


Meet Trisha Zago, NP-PHC

Tell us a little about yourself. Where and when did you start your career? How long have you been a NP?

I have been a nurse practitioner for nine years. I graduated from the Nurse Practitioner Primary Health Care Certificate Program through Laurentian University in 2013 and

I was employed as a registered nurse in Sault Ste. Marie, working in the local hospital's intensive care unit prior to obtaining my NP certification. Once certified, I transitioned within the hospital to the Rehabilitation, Complex Continuing Care Unit and Medical Outpatient Clinic. The program has evolved over the last nine years and I continue to work in our Post-Acute Care Program which includes four units, Rehabilitation, Complex Continuing Care, Geriatric Rehab/short stay medically complex, and Alternate Level of Care patients.


If you could have dinner with anyone, whether it be a historical figure or someone in the present, who would it be?

It would be my late grandparents. They were all incredibly hard workers and I would love to hear their stories of the life lessons and challenges they each faced and how they overcame those challenges. I enjoy understanding the lived experience of others and I am always amazed with how resilient people are.


What are the benefits of healthcare organizations having NPs?

Increased access to quality healthcare in primary care clinics, hospitals, and long-term care homes, reduced visits to hospital ERs, as well as reduced ER wait times. NPs provide people with access to qualified health care practitioners that provide comprehensive care including preventative health care initiatives focused on disease prevention through health education and health promotion, early detection screening, physical assessments, ordering of appropriate diagnostic investigations, and diagnosing and treating many medical conditions or referring to specialists to support clients' individual needs. NPs also provide continuity of care, contribute to patient satisfaction with their care, and reduce hospital length of stay and readmissions.


What has been the most rewarding part of your career so far?

In the hospital, many patients I care for have had a sudden change to their baseline level of health and function. Often this involves cognitive and physical changes that impair the way they function day to day. From the day that they are admitted to the Post-Acute Care Program, an entire team of nurses and interdisciplinary care providers work with the patient and family on their journey to recovery, working toward patient specific goals that are needed to be achieved in order to help them transition back home for further outpatient recovery. I’m always happy for the patients when that day comes and they are ready to successfully manage again at home.


If you could use one word to describe your approach to your practice, what would it be?

Open-minded.