Providing extraordinary care and a safe space for patients: Meet our IBD Nurse of the Year

The nurse Amanda Swain smiling on a grey background
Crohn’s and Colitis Canada has named Amanda Swain as its 2023 Outstanding IBD Nurse of the Year, an honour that recognizes exceptional care for patients with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. 
Since 2020 alone, Amanda has cared for more than 1,900 patients – at least 50 each week – at the IBD Centre of BC. From Vancouver, she also travels north regularly to provide support for patients in the Yukon, a territory without resident IBD specialists.  
“I work alongside Dr. Greg Rosenfeld – a GI specialist in IBD care – to deliver much-needed treatment to the underserved population in the Yukon,” says Amanda. “Patients there are so grateful to be seen in their own community instead of having to fly out to larger centres like Vancouver.” 
Amanda explains that the Yukon’s rural nature creates challenges for people who require IV infusions or self-injections. Shipping medications to P.O. boxes can be difficult, and even managing dietary considerations can be fraught with complexity. 
“I always try to put myself in a patient’s shoes: what they’re feeling, what they need to get back to their normal life, whether they’re hunting in the wilderness or living in an urban centre,” says Amanda, who keeps in mind what she and her husband felt when he himself was diagnosed with IBD. “At the time, his doctor was dismissive of his stress and anxiety and gave impractical advice that didn't consider the symptoms he was experiencing. I always want people to feel they can talk to me openly about their concerns.”
Such empathy requires significant patient-provider trust, care and dedication – aspects this award also celebrates. 
“Patients seem to find a safe space in Amanda’s practice where they can be sure someone who is experienced will take care of them,” says Efrain Cruz, director of operations at the IBD Centre of BC.  
Wendy Soobis has been Amanda’s patient for nearly a decade. “Amanda’s knowledge of IBD is vast, and her nursing skills and professionalism are second to none,” she says. “Through my periods of medical stability to severe illness, she has been a kind and steadfast support, offering guidance, reassurance and extraordinary care.” 
Amanda’s career journey extended through both the U.S. and U.K. and helped shape her approach to care. Notably, in the late 1990s she worked in London in an HIV/AIDS ward at a time when antiretroviral medications were changing the landscape – as many novel therapies are changing IBD management today. 
There, she practised a style of nursing that emphasized a multidisciplinary team approach, also similar to IBD care. “The nurses played an important role, and you really got to know your patients,” she says.
Overall, Amanda says what’s most rewarding is the chance to help patients live a full and meaningful life despite their diagnosis. She looks forward to a future of care that embraces a holistic approach to treatment that includes more therapeutic options, a greater understanding of the impact of our microbiome, and a focus on mental health. 
“IBD nurses are playing a key role moving forward in IBD care across Canada,” says Amanda. “My hope is that all IBD patients across Canada will eventually have equitable access to an IBD nurse.”    

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.

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