Rachael Christianson is a board-certified nurse practitioner with MidMichigan Health and is a member of the comprehensive heart and vascular team at MidMichigan Health. This team includes cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, structural heart specialists and electrophysiologists, as well as vascular and cardiovascular surgeons.
Rachael said she was drawn to the specialty of cardiovascular surgery after working in an open heart recovery unit as a registered nurse. “I was fortunate to have great co-workers and several surgeons who provided wonderful education regarding post open-heart surgery patient care,” she said. “When I became a nurse practitioner, it just felt like a natural transition to cardiovascular surgery.”
Philosophy of Care
Rachael’s philosophy of patient care is not just to provide treatment to her patients, but to provide treatment for and with her patients by offering education regarding their disease and treatment options. “By educating my patients, I can empower them to make educated decisions about their treatment options and care, because both of our roles and responsibilities are equally important for outcome success,” she said. “I want the relationship between my patients and me to be open, honest and comfortable. By making sure that they have a full understanding of their situation, I can ensure that they feel comfortable enough to have discussions or ask questions no matter how ridiculous or embarrassing they may think they are.”
“What sets me apart and why patients should choose me for their care is because I know what it is like to be a patient myself,” she added. “Just four years ago I was diagnosed with cancer and underwent several months of chemotherapy and had multiple surgeries. Though I have been in good health since, I have not forgotten how hard it was to fight for my life, what personal health-related loss feels like, or how important it was for my coping, success and recovery to have a supportive health care team.”
Special Interests and Procedures
Rachael provides care for cardiovascular surgery patients before, during and after surgery by giving pre-procedure education, answering questions, and assisting with surgeries (i.e., performing endoscopic vein harvesting, first assisting and closing incisions). She also cares for patients in the immediate recovery period, as well as during office follow-up.
According to Rachael, the development of endoscopic vein harvesting has been an amazing advancement. Compared to open harvesting, it has not only decreased the risk of infection, scarring, and length of recovery, but it is a lot more comfortable for patients in terms of recovery.
Rachael lives in the area with her husband Matthew and their three cats, Oliver, Willow and Rudy. In her free-time she enjoys traveling, running, exercising, gardening, reading, arts and crafts and home decorating.