For as long as Jennifer Viner, MS, CNRN, NP, can remember, she wanted to help the vulnerable and underserved. And as a nurse practitioner, she has been able to do that and much more — working with patients and families in the U.S. and around the world.
Born and raised in Canada, Viner pursued her diploma of nursing and BSN there and worked as a bedside nurse for two years. As a new staff nurse, she traveled to Mexico where she provided primary care to the people in the fishing village of Zihuatanejo. Being able to practice autonomously and provide care to those in need solidified Viner’s desire to pursue her NP degree.
In 2007, she became a full-time student at the UCSF School of Nursing Adult Nurse Practitioner Program while working full time in the UCSF neuro ICU. “It was difficult doing both, but by continuing to work, I maintained professional relationships and had a number of job offers before I graduated,” she said. “My colleagues recognized my dedication and hard work, so it paid off.”
During clinical rotations, Viner was exposed to a number of NP practice settings, she said, some of which she didn’t know existed. After graduation in 2009, she accepted a position as an NP with the Department of Neurological Surgery at UCSF, and she still practices there today. Viner primarily works with patients with brain tumors and hydrocephalus. She is involved in their care from diagnosis through hospitalization, discharge and follow-up, working closely with referring physicians and interdisciplinary team members.
“I am incredibly grateful to work in a profession where I can improve the quality of life of others,” Viner said. “It is such a blessing to make a positive difference in my patients’ health and well-being, and I am humbled by the expressions of gratitude I receive from them every day.”
At the medical center, she educates staff nurses working with neurologically compromised patients, and as an assistant clinical professor at the UCSF School of Nursing, she works with NP students in the clinical setting. Viner also collaborates with UCSF residents, publishing research papers and presenting findings on new treatment modalities and innovative medical technologies at regional and national conferences.
In recent years, Viner pursued her lifelong dream of educating and caring for those in impoverished and underserved countries throughout the world. She has volunteered with nonprofit organizations such as Health Volunteers Overseas and The Flying Doctors and has created her own opportunities for global volunteerism. “It is an exciting way to see the world, learn about different cultural beliefs, nursing practices and ways to maximize limited resources, and it has deepened my own nursing practice,” she said.
In 2014, she traveled to Bhutan where she helped set up the first Hydrocephalus Program at the National Referral Hospital in Thimphu. In 2015, she provided care on the wards and education in the classroom at the Sihanouk Hospital for Hope in Phnom Penh in Cambodia. “Because many educated persons were killed during the genocide, the nurses and medical staff there rely heavily on foreign professionals to mentor them,” she said.
During those two years, Viner also provided primary care in remote fishing villages on the Baja Peninsula of Mexico, and this past spring she traveled to Haiti with a group of neurosurgeons to perform neurosurgical procedures at the teaching hospital in Mirebalais. This fall she will be traveling to a community hospital in Northern India.
“The world recognizes the NP as a leader in the profession, and nurses I have worked with abroad are kind and generous and pleased to have our assistance,” said Viner. “They want to know how we practice, how we work as a team and how our standards might be used in their countries. As nurses, we share a common mission, that is, to care for the health and well-being of our patients and their families.”
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