Nancy M. Albert, PhD, CCNS, CHFN, CCRN, NE-BC, FAHA, FHFSA, FCCM, FAAN, is Associate Chief Nursing Officer at Cleveland Clinic’s Office of Nursing Research and Innovation. She has been a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing since 2015, an honor that speaks to the impact she has made on the advancement of nursing as a science and as a profession. And she now serves as president (2020-2021) of the Heart Failure Society of America — a national multidisciplinary organization composed primarily of physicians, nurses and pharmacy professionals.
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“I never imagined that a nurse would be selected to lead the organization, and am humbled and honored that I have had a chance to do so,” says Dr. Albert. the first person to be featured in a Consult QD series about the qualities of leadership in nursing.
Her trajectory in cardiac care began in nursing school, when she became fascinated with the heart.
“It’s such a small organ and so essential to life,” says Dr. Albert.
“I was intrigued by the heart’s connotation of love, and equally interested in the electrical and mechanical systems in constant play. Once I learned more about myocardial infarctions, heart failure, atrial fibrillation and other cardiac conditions, and observed an open heart surgery, my desire to learn more continued to grow.”
Developing a passion for research
She started asking questions and finding answers by reviewing research literature and hearing experts speak on topics of interest at national meetings. She spent 14 years at a community hospital before moving to Cleveland Clinic.
“My first position at Cleveland Clinic was nurse manager of the coronary care unit,” Dr. Albert says. “There was a lot of research going on — medical research — and I was thrilled simply to be part of the team caring for patients who were in research trials.”
These days she conducts her own research and works alongside inquisitive colleagues. “New knowledge is exciting, no matter the theme and participant discipline or population. It helps us develop a firmer foundation of nursing science, which I believe is extremely important,” Dr. Albert says.
One of the first research studies she was involved with was designed to learn the level of knowledge of nurses caring for patients with heart failure. “Specifically, I wanted to know if they had adequate knowledge to teach patients about how to take care of themselves at home,” she says. “There was no tool available on the topic, so I had to create my own. That tool was my first ‘innovation,’ and I continue to receive requests to use it today.”
Her love of innovation extends well beyond cardiac care.