Nancy Albert got involved with the American Heart Association in 1999 when she was asked to co-direct a program at a heart failure conference.
“A year later, I assisted the Council of Cardiovascular Nursing (now called the Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing) with program planning for Scientific Sessions, and since then I have been involved with multiple committees and working groups,” said Albert, associate chief nursing officer for the Office of Nursing Research and Innovation at the Nursing Institute for the Cleveland Clinic Health System.
For her extensive volunteer work, Albert was recently named the AHA Healthcare Volunteer of the Year.
“Volunteerism for the AHA opened up my professional world,” she said. “After becoming involved in the AHA, I went back to college to work toward a PhD and my career path became much more focused on leading research.”
As a clinical nurse, Albert always had an interest in cardiac disease, but the focus has changed over time.
“I spent many years caring for patients after open-heart and vascular surgeries,” she said. “My goals were to ensure smooth transitions out of the intensive care unit, so the focus was primarily on ensuring optimal hemodynamics, managing intravenous medications and devices, and ensuring optimal healing.”
When she took a job as a nurse manager of a high-intensity coronary care unit, Albert began to appreciate the delicate balance of aggressive and palliative care for patients with advanced heart failure, post-STEMI cardiogenic shock and post arrest due to arrhythmic events.
“In this setting, I learned that I had an affinity for helping patients suffering from heart failure,” she said. “When an opportunity arose to become a clinical nurse specialist in heart failure, dysrhythmias and cardiac transplantation, it was a perfect fit.”
Since then, her research work has helped her career evolve in new directions. Most recently, she has become increasingly focused on identifying and understanding patients’ perspectives.
“I became interested in novel methods of mobile or electronic health monitoring that could be important to patients with heart failure,” said Albert, who is also a clinical nurse specialist at the Kaufman Center for Heart Failure at the Cleveland Clinic’s Heart and Vascular Institute. “As population health becomes more ingrained and as national research goals evolve, I expect my research work will continue to transition.”
Albert acknowledges that many factors have influenced her career progression, including healthcare trends, governmental and economic forces, patient factors and her hospital’s strategic plans. One constant has been her volunteer work for the AHA and other organizations.
Albert currently volunteers with the AHA’s Clinical Workgroup of the Get With The Guidelines: Heart Failure program. She also serves on the Consumer Health & Quality Coordinating Committee as Professional Education Committee liaison; the Quality Care and Outcomes Research Leadership Committee as Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing (CVSzN) Council member; the CVSN Council’s Leadership Committee; the Science Advisory and Coordinating Committee; the Corporate Relations Review Committee; and as chair of the Professional Education Committee.
“There are so many expert volunteers at the AHA whose opinions are valuable, contemporary and forward thinking,” she said.