People in profile: Denise Foster

Meet Denise—Serving up high-quality critical care research and fresh new recipes.

Q: What is your role in health research?
I am a registered nurse and the full-time research coordinator for critical care at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH).

Q: What type of research do you coordinate?
Anything and everything related to critical care. This can be research led locally, nationally or internationally. It may be a retrospective review, a large multicenter trial or anything in between. In the last few years our team has focused on neurocritical care research, specifically in patients with hypoxic ischemic brain injury post cardiac arrest. And in recent months we have been conducting research related to COVID-19.

Q: What’s the best part about your research job?
 Collaborations. Over the years I have had the privilege and honor to collaborate with some fantastic folks locally and globally, many of whom are now dear friends. Although we have all recently experienced an unprecedented period of physical distancing, COVID-19 has led to many new partnerships and collaborations that are sure to be long-lasting.

Q: What does your average day at work look like?
No day is average nor is one ever the same as the next. After nearly 20 years as a critical care research coordinator I can still say that I learn something new nearly every day!

Q: What is one of the proudest accomplishments of your research career?
Over the years I have accomplished a great deal that I am thankful for and proud of. However, my recent involvement in research with The 3 Wishes Project—an ICU based project aimed at improving the quality of the dying experience for critically ill patients and their families—has been the most meaningful research of my career. 

Q: What do you do for fun in your spare time?
I love to cook and share meals with friends. I like to plan five course wine-paired menus and I have no fear in trying out all kinds of new recipes on my dinner guests.

Q: Who motivates you?
All of my critical care colleagues. I work with an amazing group of people in the Intensive Care Unit at VGH. They are a wonderful example of what team-based patient care means.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?
I love to travel and experience new cultures and cuisines. I plan my travels based on places that I have not yet been. Although I have been to Spain, I have not been to: Madrid, Granada, and Seville…and a few places in between. I actually have a three-week Spain vacation booked for September and I am hoping that COVID-19 doesn’t mess that up.

Q: Who’s your favourite musician?
I like a wide variety of music, but my favorite genre is alternative 80s music and my favorite musician is David Bowie. I even have a tattoo in tribute to him.

Q: What would you do if you weren’t a researcher? 
I would be a travel and food writer!

Born and raised in Vancouver, Denise attended the VGH School of Nursing and graduated in 1984. Her first nursing job was on the Vascular Surgery Ward in the old Heather Pavilion. Following that, she worked in the Special Care Nursery at BC Children’s Hospital before taking a position as a bedside nurse in the VGH ICU in 1988. She has been working in the VGH ICU ever since.


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