Amanda Chaney, Doctor of Nursing Practice and liver transplant nurse practitioner at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida, has an image imprinted in her brain each day as she serves patients needing liver transplant. The image comes from her experiences in the operating room: a brown liver transforming to pink as it’s transplanted into a patient’s abdomen, signaling life renewal.
When Chaney first meets her pre-transplant patients in the hospital, they are typically very sick, suffering with symptoms such as confusion, poor appetite, renal issues, jaundice, and swelling in their arms and legs. She and colleagues also care for patients at the time of their transplant, or if they are facing complications post-transplant.
Every morning, Chaney meets with a multidisciplinary team in liver transplant rounds, discussing the three to nine patient cases on their service, including topics such as pressing symptoms, imaging or lab results, and socioemotional status. This collaboration leads to developing a daily care plan for each patient, which is then implemented by Chaney and colleagues.
“We have a great team of people,” says Chaney. “We know despite it being crazy and busy, we’re making a difference for our patients.” Her team, she says, provides 24-hour care and rotates night, weekend and holiday shifts.
Chaney’s key nursing mentor — whom she dubs her “nursing mom” — was Kim Wright, a Mayo Clinic nurse manager who pushed Chaney to think outside the box and identify options for any given dilemma. At a time when their nursing unit saw a large new staff influx, Chaney took some concerns to Kim regarding following protocol. Kim turned to Chaney and said, “Well, what do you want to do about it?”
Chaney recommended a class for new unit staff members, later dubbed “Survivors of Surgical Nursing,” as it started in the era when the “Survivor” TV series was popular. In partnership with her nursing colleagues, this became a required core class for unit nurses, complete with a certification exam.
Kim also encouraged Chaney to participate in patient outcome quality projects, which Chaney notes she has particularly enjoyed. For example, for a capstone project required for her nursing doctorate, she looked at transplant patients with severe malnutrition to see if a phone-call follow-up program would help facilitate better nutrition. It appears to have a great impact with only 37.5 percent of patients requiring hospitalization, versus 80 percent of severely malnourished patients in a comparison group.
In the research arena, Chaney’s department chair, Dr. Andrew Keaveny, became her mentor. Wanting to make a research contribution, she asked Dr. Keaveny to tutor her in what he knew about all research aspects, from working with the Institutional Review Board to submitting scientific research papers for journal publication. Over time, Chaney helped conduct research studies and published journal articles with her physician mentor.
Chaney explains that she “kind of grew up at Mayo,” since her mom worked at Mayo Clinic for many years and highly recommended it to her as a workplace. One of the reasons Chaney loves working at Mayo is the unique experiences available.
“So many things I’ve been able to explore, I don’t know if I’d have had these opportunities anywhere else,” she says.
Beyond patient care and research, in a partnership with Mayo Clinic’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Chaney started a professional resource group called the Influence, Inspiration and Growth Mayo Employee Resource Group (MERG), which now has 350 members and meets monthly. The group is intended to consolidate all professional development information Mayo healthcare professionals may need in one place and provide leadership training.
“It’s been a great way to share things I’ve learned along the way in order to help make it easier for someone else,” she says.
Just as Chaney has spread her wings professionally, she also has encouraged this of others. Her work nickname has been “Demanda,” an affectionate reference to her reputation for demanding so much of herself and of others. “I want other nurse practitioners and physician assistants to know there is so much more opportunity to make a difference than just your day job; including quality improvement work, education, and research,” she says.
Chaney is a fellow with the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and an assistant professor of medicine. She has even published a book on gastrointestinal and liver disease, which came about somewhat serendipitously. At a professional conference, she approached a publisher exhibiting and asked about writing a book chapter, which then led to Springer Publishing Company asking her to write an entire book.
On Chaney’s days off, she is often spending time with her family, planning fun events like a cookie baking day.
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