"There was nothing else I ever wanted to do," nurse practitioner Sue DeVries says on the eve of her retirement from UHN after almost 40 years on the forefront of vascular surgery at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. (Photo: UHN)

Thousands of patients and a generation of clinicians have Sue DeVries to thank for the expert management of complex, vascular surgical issues available at UHN's Peter Munk Cardiac Centre.

"It is the end of the DeVries era," says Dr. Thomas Forbes, Division Head of Vascular Surgery, PMCC.

"Her legacy will live on in the patients she has treated and the healthcare professionals she has impacted."

The lady with the cheerful eyes and gleeful disposition is still bustling around her unit, checking on patients, who are helping with the retirement countdown, and accepting congratulations and gifts from grateful colleagues. The co-founder and past president of the Canadian Society for Vascular Nurses (CSVN) has been driving excellence in her field for decades, so it is no surprise that there are many who want to say thank you and express what she means to them.

"Sue is the vascular program," says Dorina Baston, Nurse Manager, Vascular and Cardiovascular Surgery Inpatient Units, and long-time friend and fan of Sue's. "She is relentless when advocating for her patients.

"She looks at providing care from her patient's perspective, not in doing what is simply conventional."

Dorina recounts a time when a patient had a fever that was unresponsive to the various treatments they had tried.

"Sue took a step back and asked critical questions that led to the discovery of metastatic cancer," Dorina says. "It wasn't what anyone wanted to learn but her deep commitment to the patient meant they got the necessary answers and could now go home and spend their final days with family."

'An incredible role model'

"My mom was a nurse," says Sue. "I think I might have been pre-programmed for this life!

"Frankly, the privilege is all mine. When I think of the incredible teams I have worked with, and the honour it has been to care for patients, I can honestly say there has been just so much joy that came from all of this."

Sue's impact on patient care has also come in the form of educating and training clinicians through her teaching, her research, and innovations such as the vascular app she created to help vascular nurses. Sue took every opportunity to proudly shine a spotlight on the achievements of her program, and its people.

"Sue has been an incredible role model for the hundreds of nurses that were lucky enough to have worked with her over the years," says Barry Rubin, Chair and Medical Director of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. "She taught them what it means to be an outstanding clinician.

"I am grateful to have been her colleague, and her friend, and I miss her already."

Mentoring young clinicians and imparting to them her deep commitment to true nursing, is the legacy Sue hopes she's leaving behind. Recognizing every patient as someone with a unique story and deserving of the best care possible.

"I want young clinicians coming into this world to prioritize connection with patients, rather than just tasks," says Sue. "Even if it's just five minutes, sit down and learn who they are outside of the hospital bed.

"And, let them know who you are too, because nothing is more important than connecting as human beings."

Congratulations Sue! UHN thanks you for 37-1/2 years of extraordinary leadership.

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