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ROLE MODEL

One heart helping others

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Minija Joseph innovates and advocates for change in cardiac theatre nursing

minija joseph

minija joseph

Minija “Mini” Joseph, who has been a nurse of over 25 years, is theatre manager at King’s College Hospital in London and a cardiac revolutionary. As well as her illustrious career, she has written a training manual for cardiac theatre practitioners – and in so doing is changing the field of cardiac theatre nursing as we know it.

Ms Joseph found her passion for theatre nursing in 1989, as she was obtaining her diploma from Holy Cross Hospital in Kerala, India. She completed her degree in nursing at Father Muller College of Nursing in Mangalore, then went on to Chennai to hone her skills as a cardiac theatre nurse.

Ms Joseph says it was the challenging and dynamic nature of the cardiac specialty that appealed: “Every case in cardiac theatre nursing is different. You will learn something new every day, a new technique.”

She moved to the UK in 2000 and started working at King’s. Although she left for a brief period to take up a senior post at Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne, she returned in 2007 to the cardiac theatre manager post. By then, the dynamic circumstances of cardiac nursing had begun to present more difficult challenges.

“Every case in cardiac theatre nursing is different. You will learn something new every day, a new technique.”

“People are pushed to do lots of things without training,” Ms Joseph explains. Fortunately, this has never been the case under her leadership. “I spend lots of time training my nurses… constant training, because things are always changing.”

She realised there were no comprehensive training tools for cardiac theatre nurses, so she started developing her own guidelines and protocols for her team to use.

In 2012, Ms Joseph began to consider creating a cardiac theatre training manual with information on various heart valve repair and replacement devices. She eventually teamed up with LivaNova, a cardiac device manufacturer, and got the green light to start compiling the manual after presenting the project in Italy last year.

“It took around six months, from last July until January of this year,” she says. “We don’t get study days at King’s so last year all my work was done on my own time.” Before and after shifts, at night or on weekends – any spare moment she had was spent working on content as well as editing the pages LivaNova produced.

“I spend lots of time training my nurses… constant training, because things are always changing.”

Despite plenty of obstacles, the manual was published in February of this year, receiving a positive reception from doctors and nurses alike. Entitled Basic Information for Cardiac Theatre Practitioners, it contains detailed information about cardiac devices manufactured by LivaNova – names, materials, available sizes, preparation instructions and even pictures with product codes for re-ordering.

“It’s so hard for the junior nurse to understand each valve, their preparation etc. It’s very hard to remember everything, every day,” Ms Joseph says. She hopes her manual will help cardiac theatre nurses to remember the particulars of each cardiac repair and replacement device and, as such, be able to work much more effectively as a result.

Besides providing a resource for her fellow nurses, Ms Joseph’s only other aim for the project was to improve patient safety. She received no monetary compensation for the manual and says she doesn’t plan on pursuing any. “It’s for patients’ safety. Money can come, money can go. I’ve done it all for patient safety. Money doesn’t matter to me,” she says emphatically.

This isn’t to say that she has no further aspirations  in terms of similar projects.

“Money can come, money can go. I’ve done it all for patient safety. Money doesn’t matter to me”

“I want to work with the rest of the valve companies in the world, and create more exciting things like this manual. I’d like to create unique manuals for companies all over the world. I want it to be easy for nurses to reference them,” she says.

But ultimately, Ms Joseph feels that the production of the manuals themselves is far more important than her own personal involvement in the projects when it comes to promoting patient safety.

“As long as it’s benefiting patients, I don’t even need to be involved,” she says. “Now it is quite easy to create a manual with a company because there is a model already. They just need to copy what’s already been done.” Spoken like a true trailblazer – and a truly exemplary nurse.

Savannah Cordova

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