Jacqui O’Brien, Cardiac Surgery | Clinical Research Coordinator

How did you get your start at Boston Children’s?

I started at Boston Children’s Hospital nine years ago as a volunteer in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. Before taking this position, I had no experience working with children with congenital heart disease. However, I quickly realized that I enjoyed hearing about and helping with their medical journey. Even the simplest things, such as allowing a parent to take a break from the bedside, providing comfort to families during long admissions, or finding activities to distract siblings can be greatly rewarding.

Volunteering sparked my interest in working with children with congenital heart disease and led to me hold various positions in the Cardiology Department, including working in the Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program. I’m grateful for each of these experiences because they exposed me to pediatric congenital heart disease and taught me about the developmental, behavioral and learning challenges that some children with congenital heart disease face.

Then in January 2017, I began as a clinical research coordinator in Cardiac Surgery, which has broadened my exposure to the intricacies of the field, especially because I have a number of roles within the department.

How did you first become interested in the medical field?

From a young age, I was exposed to the medical field through my family. We are a big, injury-prone, Irish family with a tendency to end up in the emergency room, and we also have a large number of medical professionals in the family including my mom, Kim O’Brien, who is an operating room nurse here in the Orthopedics Department.

What does your typical day look like?

Because I have a few different roles in Cardiac Surgery, every day brings something different. When I first began, I worked with Barbara Rhodes, physician assistant in Cardiac Surgery, to help create a Post-operative Telemedicine Program. Establishing this clinic has been a huge undertaking, as we operate on more than 1,000 patients a year and each patient requires follow-up after discharge. To be honest, neither of us knew much about telemedicine, but we’ve worked really well together and now feel comfortable providing this service to patients and families.

My job in the clinic involves scheduling patients and walking them through the virtual process, as well as assisting them if they have any problems. Last year, we reached 1,000 visits. I’m extremely grateful to not only be part of this clinic, but also to work with Barbara and share the clinic’s great success in becoming a model to other departments at Boston Children’s.

On days I’m not working with Barbara, I also work with Dr. Christopher Baird and Dr. Mariana Chávez on various valve research projects, as well as Dr. Meena Nathan, assisting her with the DisCo program, which provides proactive outreach to patients post-discharge to help prevent readmissions.

What do you like most about your job?

I truly love working with the patients and families and being able to provide them with a service that allows them easier access to care. It’s so satisfying knowing we saved them an extra trip to the hospital.