10-Minute Interview: Elizabeth Ching, RN, Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Describe your medical background. What made you decide to go into EP? Also, describe your work as Nurse Manager at the Device Clinic. I had worked here at the clinic for about 3 or 4 years, so just for a short period of time. My background was in cardiology, so when I came here, I progressed through the ranks to head nurse on the cardiology floor, then to the cardiovascular ICU and later the cardiac OR. It was by a fluke that I ran into the physicians who started this area. We had the typical joke of when are you going to find me a job? and well, they did. That was in 1981. I ve been doing this for a long time now, and I really enjoy it. It is a constant learning situation things change so rapidly in our area, you just constantly have to keep updated. Right now I manage the Device Clinic, which is part of the Electrophysiology section. We are a very large device clinic; we have about 30,000 patients in our database. We see, on average, about 70 patients a day, and the cases can range from a biventricular ICD with multiple shocks to a very run-of-the-mill single-chamber pacemaker. It is a nurse-run clinic, and we are very busy. I work with 11 electrophysiologists and 2 pediatric electrophysiologists. When did you first begin working as moderator of the Cardiac Devices message board on WebMD? How did this come about? It was about three years ago when WebMD contacted me. With permission from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, I ve been doing it ever since. How often do you check the board? How many questions do you receive daily? It can vary; sometimes the board is very busy. I usually try to check it first thing in the morning, then sometime in the afternoon, and again later, possibly before I go home at night. I try to answer them as they come. What are the most common problems you ve helped with online? The most common ones are about atrial fibrillation, heart failure and devices, and questions from patients about undergoing an ablation. There are a range of people who send in questions such as ‘my mother has this or ‘my friend has this and you have to sort through them carefully because you are a sounding board for more education. Much of the information that I'm giving is more information about their disease. What are the most unusual cases you ve helped with online? Amiodarone is one of our major antiarrhythmic drugs, and it s not without side effects, so there is always a running dialogue among the patients who write in. The board is also a kind of education piece for patients in trying to get rid of some of the urban legends that surround device therapy. Patients will say mom got a pacemaker, and we had to pull all of the microwaves out of the house, etc. It is those kinds of questions, really, besides the amiodarone comments. What is a typical work day like for you? How do you balance your work at the Device Clinic along with the Cardiac Devices message board on WebMD? I usually get into work about 6 o clock every day. At that time I try to get my emails done, the WebMD answers done, and my Heart Rhythm Society duties done, just to get my day free, because most of the time I m in patient care. I try to get everything done before work, at lunchtime, or at breaktime. Our patients start coming in at around 7:30 in the morning, and then there may also be inpatients or outpatients to deal with. There are also always problems in the ER, problems in the OR, and/or patient calls as well. Do you find that many of the questions you answer in the clinic are the same as the ones you answer online? Yes. I am often answering the urban legend type questions for patients. Briefly describe the allied professional group. How can someone join? The allied professional (AP) group through the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) is a diverse group within the main membership of HRS. The allied professionals are a group of allieds, including industry-involved APs who are mostly educators, engineers who work in-house in the industry, biomedical engineers who work in the field in hospital centers, technicians, etc. It can be expanded to echo technicians as well, since echocardiography has become such a daily part of our work life. We are a really diverse group. At the annual sessions, we try to direct parts of our program for the allied professionals, giving them an identity within a large group. It is also a very active group. There are a lot of emails, questions and answers, and an ask the expert feature at the Heart Rhythm Society meeting. Those questions are usually filtered over to someone who has a life experience so that they can answer them back and help them out with some issues. In addition, at this year s meeting, basic sessions were held prior to the annual meeting, and it was very well attended. Is there anything you d like to add? Currently HRS is looking at the restructuring of the allied arm of the organization. We now have a member on the Board of Trustees. An application to join HRS can be obtained from the www.HRSonline.org site. We are looking forward to next year s Scientific Sessions and the special sessions aimed at the allied professional! For more information, please visit: http://boards.webmd.com/topic.asp?topic_id=148