The Society for Vascular Nursing (SVN) aims to highlight our members who are making a positive impact in their careers as vascular nurses. SVN members work hard every day advancing the care of individuals living with vascular disease and supporting the mission of the Society. Interested in being part of the member spotlight or nominating a peer? Email Moe at email@example.com or complete our survey for inclusion!
Ali Kusch, APNP
The Medical College of Wisconsin
SVN Member since May 2021
- What is your personal background in vascular nursing (how long have you worked in the vascular field, did you practice something before, etc.)? My name is Ali Kusch, I am 30 years old and have been working in the vascular surgery field for about 8 years. I initially started my career as a nurse in vascular surgery on an inpatient floor in 2013 at Froedtert Hospital and The Medical College of Wisconsin. I took care of post-operative vascular patients which ranged from lower extremity bypasses, amputations, carotid disease, AAA’s, chronic bone infections, and acute limb threatening revascularization procedures. While working as an RN fulltime, I went back school to obtain my masters in nursing and graduated in 2019; finally accomplishing my goal and becoming a licensed adult-gerontology nurse practitioner. I knew I wanted to stay in vascular surgery and was grateful enough to be able to transition over to the outpatient role as a vascular surgery nurse practitioner at the same institution I worked at as an RN.
- What is your favorite aspect of vascular nursing? My favorite aspect of vascular nursing is the patients. I fell in love with this patient population because it was clear to see that these patients needed extra support, care, and education. Unfortunately, many of these patients I would see time and time again due to the progression of their diseases. You almost start seeing them as part of your extended family. They need a lot of support to manage their chronic diseases, and many do not have access to this. I love the hands on approach I can take with these patients when it comes to managing their chronic wounds, or just following up on their recent surgeries, making sure they have all the necessary things for optimal healing and to manage their diseases.
- What is the most challenging part of your job as a vascular nurse? The most challenging job as a vascular nurse practitioner is reinforcing a healthy lifestyle. The majority of our patients are smokers, have hypertension, uncontrolled diabetes, co-morbidities, and lack of a support system. This combination only amplifies their vascular disease, need for further surgeries, and inhibits wound/incision healing. It is not a quick fix, but a healthy lifestyle is something that has to be reinforced and re-educated over and over. We can provide with them all the resources they need, but ultimately they are in control of their overall health and they have to meet us half way and be compliant as well.
- Have there been changes in your work force? How so? This last year was challenging with covid. We know many of our patients have chronic diseases which make them high-risk if they get covid. Several of our patients unfortunately passed during this times. On the other hand, a large portion of our patients still needed to be seen in person in our clinic. Most specialties could turn to telemedicine and virtual appts, but in vascular, we have patients who have chronic wounds which we assess, debride, and place in compression wraps three times a week. We also still needed to see our hospital follow up patients within 1 week of discharge in person to assess incisions, remove staples, and get vascular labs on. I am very fortunate to work with such a wonderful team at The Medical College of Wisconsin, and we handled the pandemic as best as we could in our department while still providing excellent care to our patients.
- What are your personal goals within the vascular field (implement protocols, increase patient volume, research, societal involvement, etc.)? Some personal goals of mine are to expand my knowledge in vascular surgery. I would like to attend some conferences in the future. Also, I am currently working on a narcotic prescription policy in the outpatient setting for our patients. This has been an area of concern and an area that could be improved upon with some more guidelines. Our hope is to make an standardized policy to follow for managing acute post-operative and chronic ischemic pain.
- What is a “fun fact” about yourself that you would like others to know? A fun fact about myself is that after I graduated and passed my boards for a nurse practitioner, I went on a medical mission trip to Kenya for several weeks! I got to visit the slums, some of the poorest areas, and set up medical camps where we delivered care to hundreds of kids and adults in need. It was the experience of a lifetime, and my one major takeaways was this: even though these kids had no shelter, no running water, no electricity, no toys, no healthcare, they had the more joy, love, honor, laughter, and kindness than the majority of the materially rich people I’ve met.