The 10 Minute Interview with Heidi N. Bonneau, RN, MS


Highlands Consulting, Inc., San Jose California

Why did you choose to work in the invasive cardiology field?

In 1987, a job opportunity came my way via a graduate school alumnus, Mary Murphy, who was already working at the San Francisco Heart Institute. The field was in its early stages and filled with excitement, and I wanted to be a part of it.

Can you describe your role in the CV lab at that time?

My role focused largely on education and research. I provided support to the family members of the patient along with updates as the case was progressing, did discharge planning and education with patient/family, and maintained files on each patient coming to the center for PCI. In addition, I assisted with running the pacemaker clinic out of the office, doing supine stress echocardiography tests, holter monitoring, and helping a busy practice maintain their patient caseloads. As new devices and drug protocols were being tested at our center, I assisted with implementing those protocols, along with my partner, Mary Murphy.

What is the biggest challenge you saw regarding your role in the CV lab?

The challenges I faced during my time in the lab were time organization. I was forever appreciative of the camaraderie that we, the cath lab staff and physicians, maintained. I've never been in a richer learning environment, and as I look back upon that experience I am amazed at how much information seemed to have soaked in. I believe attending either AHA or ACC scientific sessions for educational updates is important to keep in touch with the rest of the world, as well as being able to see new devices on display at the exhibits. Of course, TCT offers educational updates as well. I subscribe to Circulation and JACC, and online with the New England Journal of Medicine. This is especially important as I no longer report to a medical center per se, and need to keep in the loop of information.

What motivates you to continue working in the CV field?

The ever-changing nature of this field keeps me motivated. Research findings and new device technologies keep moving the field forward as well. Patients reap the benefits of this work, and we have the privilege of helping them with their disease¦how much better can it get?

Can you describe your current work and its connection to the field?

My current work revolves around education and writing. At Medtronic, I teach a Coronary Workshop as well as a program called Medtronic Overview to a range of Medtronic employees. These classes are held regularly during the year, and I update the sessions as medical device technologies and research require. In terms of writing, I work with both Boston Scientific and Stanford University Cardiovascular Core Analysis Laboratory. Projects range from manuscript development and editing, to reviewing abstracts prior to submission for future cardiovascular meetings. I so appreciate these activities as I am able to work with interventional thought leaders and their fellows.

What is the most bizarre case you have ever been involved with?

I don't know if bizarre is the word, but having private security guards stay with the patient during and after the procedure (since they were a prisoner at San Quentin) can make for interesting conversation. I cannot imagine an inmate getting out of bed with their sheath in place, but I guess you never know! It reminds me of a time at Brigham, when police sat outside ICU rooms of (suspected) arsonists who were burned in the process of their alleged crime.

When work gets stressful and you experience low moments (as we all do), what do you do to keep your morale high?

Work is not nearly as stressful for me now, but whenever I need a boost, I push back in my chair and take a deep breath, knowing I do not live in other parts of the world where my quality of life and safety would be FAR LESS than what it is here in the USA. I feel grateful for my friends and family, and try to call someone who is usually pretty upbeat. If all else fails, I visualize one of my favorite vacation spots, Cabo San Lucas, and how wonderfully relaxed I feel whenever I'm there.

Are you involved with the SICP or other cardiovascular societies?

I've been a member of the AACN and AHA for nearly 30 years, and work as a volunteer for the AHA in numerous ways. Being able to communicate this information to lay people is especially important, as they represent our future patients. I've been very active with the AHA's Go Red For Women campaign, and continue to lecture and publish in the public domain. In addition, I am eager to see how CCA will evolve, as it is a fairly new organization.

Do you remember participating in your first invasive procedure?

I remember being impressed with how rapidly the cath lab staff identified the target lesion (while I was still learning how to name that vessel), and how the team worked so easily in synch. I wanted to be a contributing member of that team and was so happy to have had that opportunity come my way!

Are there websites or texts that you would recommend to other CV labs?

I subscribe to and frequently visit
for updates. I'm also part of the Harvard Nurse's study, and look forward to those newsletters and updates as well. We have access to so much information these days, so I try to limit my surfing to just the topics I need to know about, otherwise I'd be forever online. The webcast series from HMP Communications have been helpful as well.

If you could send a message back to yourself at the beginning of your cath lab career, what advice would you give?

I am extremely happy with my place in my life and career, and enjoy the relationships that I have had with others as we grew up together in this field. I believe in having a positive attitude, trying to surround myself with positive people, and asking any question when I have it. These are the three pearls I'd like to pass on. Again, listening and keeping an open mind will never fail you.

Where do you hope to be in your career when it is time to retire?

I don't think I'll want to retire completely. It's been so much fun and rewarding that I can't imagine not keeping in touch somehow. My career has taken me a lifetime to achieve, so I'm not ready to give that up!

Has anyone in particular been helpful to you in your growth as a cardiovascular professional?

Realizing that cardiology was my niche, and cardiac patients in particular, were defining moments for me. The cardiologists for whom I've worked and with whom I continue to work, have influenced me in many ways. To be able to work with world-renowned physicians is a privilege, and one that is irreplaceable in terms of learning. I feel very fortunate to be in my position, and encourage everyone to be the best they can be.

Where do you think invasive cardiology is headed in the future?

I see the future related to genomics, with early identification of CV patients, and treatments to avert the magnitude of disease we see today. In addition, the interrelationships between diabetes and atherosclerosis will be better understood and hopefully better controlled than current methods provide.


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