As we recognize American Heart Month, we shine a light on our health care providers that are the heartbeat of our ministry.
Heather Allmon, CNP, specializes in providing care to cardiac surgery patients. In this Q&A session, she reflects on her personal and professional journey as well as the events that helped shape her career in heart care. She also shares the top three things you can start doing today to keep your heart healthy.
Q: What initially drew you to study and practice medicine?
A: As a young girl, I had a family member who dealt with chronic illnesses. I would go to doctor’s appointments with her and she would always tell me that she liked her nurse practitioners the most. She felt they paid more attention to her, had more time to spend with her and were truly engaged in her health and wellbeing.
Then, in my freshman year of college, my uncle, whom I was very close to, had a major stroke. He ultimately did not make it, but the nursing care he received during that time was outstanding. After seeing the way they cared for him and our family during one of the hardest times in our lives, I was driven to go to nursing school.
Q: What has your professional journey as a nurse practitioner looked like so far?
A: I am currently still in my first year as a nurse practitioner, and I will say this is not exactly what I expected. Graduating and starting a new job as a nurse practitioner during the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging to say the least. But I am very thankful to have my first job be in the same specialty as when I was a bedside nurse.
Q: Why do you love being a nurse practitioner?
A: I love being a nurse practitioner because I love helping people. It is very rewarding being part of the team that mends broken hearts. We see so many patients come in with bad symptoms including fatigue, chest pain and shortness of breath. It’s then amazing to see these patients come in for their 30-day appointment looking so great, having increased energy and being more active. Seeing patients and their families, sometimes during the worst times of their lives, and being able to care for and help them to feel better is what keeps us all coming back every day.
Q: What drew you to work at Bon Secours?
A: I went to school at Bon Secours School of Nursing. During that time, I became very moved by the mission of Bon Secours and witnessed the ministry truly caring about their employees and patients. There was a sense of being one big family, and the administration knew their staff. I knew I wanted to continue my career with this ministry when I graduated as a nurse practitioner.
I look forward to continuing to improve in my practice to provide the best quality care. I’m also excited about our new locations within Bon Secours, which allows our team to help those in underserved areas.
Q: Why did you choose to specialize in the heart? And what is the most rewarding aspect of practicing in your specialty?
A: Since becoming a registered nurse, I was always fascinated by the heart. I find cardiac surgery challenging and rewarding. I also appreciate the critical thinking skills needed to care for this patient population.
Cardiac medicine is always evolving and there are new medications and devices being created to help our patients. I enjoy continuing my education and learning better ways to provide outstanding care to our patients. And as previously mentioned, it is very rewarding to see patients come back to see us who are symptom-free and living high-quality lives.
Q: What are the most common reasons patients come in for an appointment?
A: Fatigue, chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure and shortness of breath. Also not being able to do what they once could physically.
Q: What are your top three tips you give clients to keep their hearts healthy?
First, stay active and exercise regularly. Second, have a healthy diet including low sodium, low cholesterol and limit red meats. And lastly, no smoking and limiting alcohol intake.
Q: What do you like to do outside of practicing medicine?
A: I love taking long walks at the park with my fiancé and our chocolate lab, Cooper. I also enjoy spending time with family and friends. There is also nothing better than curling up with a good book or movie on the couch!
At Bon Secours, nurses mean the world! We are so thankful for our certified nurse practitioners like Heather, especially those in heart care. Learn how you can join our nursing team today.
Also, in honor of American Heart Month, learn more about our cardiology services at Bon Secours.