I am the I in IWK – Dr. Jennifer Foster

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Having worked in intensive care units all over Canada and as far away as Australia, Dr. Jennifer Foster was happy to come home to Nova Scotia four years ago when she began working at the IWK in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) as an intensivist.

The intensive care unit admits patients who, generally, are experiencing failure in one or more organs or require intensive monitoring because they are at risk of organ failure. As an intensivist, Foster works collaboratively with colleagues from many disciplines to treat the Maritimes most critically ill patients and care for their families at one of life’s most stressful moments.

“Most of what we do in ICU is because somebody needs some form of life support. Either they need support for their blood pressure, support for their breathing, support because they have kidney failure…If you look at television shows, they’ll generally talk about life support as being the ventilator but really, anything that we’re doing to treat an organ that’s failing is a form of life support.”

Foster and her colleagues are always ready to respond, offering care services 24/7 around the clock. She attributes much of PICU’s success in providing great care to teamwork. “I think of ICU as very much a team sport, it is not an area where physicians can do it all on their own. It only functions well because it is a very multidisciplinary team.”

At the end of the day, although the PICU does care for very sick children at very stressful times, there are good days too.

“The best thing about ICU is that most kids get better.”