Leslie RaffinBy Leslie Raffin

My name is Leslie, and I’ve been working in cardiology for 22 years. I have spent 15 of those at the Children’s Heart Centre.

Thank you for taking the time to get to know me. I have always loved children and am grateful for my position at the Children’s Heart Centre.

My talented coworkers and I are justifiably proud of our knowledge and the level of care we provide even as we always challenge ourselves to do better.

In the old Children’s Hospital on 3G, I worked in the infamous “Room 9” and was a charge nurse. I also did my pediatric advanced life support and intensive care unit (ICU) step-down courses and covered a lot in ICU. Before working at Children’s Hospital, I worked at Shaughnessy Hospital as a float nurse and in the areas of emergency and eyes, ears, nose, and throat.

From 2007 to 2012, I helped one of our cardiologists who was working in clinical research to guide treatment for Marfan syndrome, a connective tissue disease.

I always wanted to be a nurse or a doctor. My mom is a retired maternity nurse, and I remember reading about medical procedures when I was a young girl. My dad, a television news station anchor, had a rare condition called Gaucher disease, which forced him to spend weeks and months in hospital.

I grew up with a passion for helping the sick and hurting through watching my dad’s health care journey. I was always surrounded by home nurses and spent lots of time in hospitals. I have always felt right at home in a hospital.

I am also very interested in health care delivery in other countries, such as Guatemala, Tanzania, and Brazil, where the stories range from heartbreaking to inspiring.

In Brazil, for example, children scheduled for cardiac surgery are divided into those who can afford the cost of an analgesic sedative called Precedex and those who can’t. However, doctors and nurses there try to level out the socioeconomic differences by giving half doses to both groups. It may not seem ethical, but it’s a choice we don’t have to consider here in Canada.

There are so many reasons to appreciate work in other countries. There is the immediacy in some places of being able to treat a disease as well as the satisfaction of teaching others who are eager to learn.

There are also some very deeply frustrating aspects to nursing in other countries, such as worrying about sick patients we were unable to see and wondering about the effectiveness of short-term, one-off care. Some patients wait hours or even days to be seen.

I always thought I would be part of Doctors Without Borders or some other similar organization that travels to remote places.

But, life happened! I married and had children. Ryan is now 35 years old, and John is 25 years old. I also had a few medical hiccups involving burn surgery and spinal fusions. And then, I was diagnosed with MS. Each time something happened, I took a bit of time off and regrouped.

This seems to be my motto in life: regroup, reassess, restart, relearn…and appreciate the process.

I would never again choose to be in a body cast with a toddler to care for, but I certainly learned more about myself during the process. I remember starting my degree at Capilano University, getting there by HandyDART during my second spinal fusion.

Hard times can be used to do all the quiet work in our lives. I deliberately reward myself with some small treat after I undergo any medical procedure. Well, sometimes it’s a big treat, such as a Cirque du Soleil ticket!

In my spare time, I love to play the French horn in a local band, kayak, and garden. All four of us also love to cook and have friends and family over for board games. ♥

Leslie and family

Leslie with her band

“Meet Leslie Raffin, Cardiology Nurse Clinician and CHN Board Member” is from our summer 2022 newsletter, Heart Matters. See our Newsletters page for more stories and to subscribe.