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Meet the CSTM Board - Susanna Darnel (en anglais)

en anglais

Welcome to the “Meet the CSTM Board” blog series! Each month a different position on the board will be spotlighted along with some insider information on the individual in the position. Each blog will follow a different path as each position and individual is unique. We hope you enjoy.

Author: Crystal Brunk, CSTM Director at Large (2022-2024).
Once upon a time there was a CSTM president named Susanna Darnel, who when not lighting up the EDM dance floor at spin class, was found lighting up the transfusion medicine community with her engaging and motivating spirit. Now as Past President (2022-2024) Susanna’s presidential tenure may be ending but her mark on the society will live on through the resources she contributed to and the members she onboarded and inspired – like me!
The Past President Position – Getting there is a journey.
Susanna’s road to presidency started in 2014 when by way of encouragement from former Past President, Shelley Feenstra, she joined the Standards Committee. Within a year Susanna was chair of that committee and continued on there until becoming CSTM vice president in 2018. Unlike other board positions, the past president position most often starts when one is elected vice president which means that by the time you move from there to president and then to past president it has been four years and you have gathered a great deal of experience and knowledge. This allows the past president to function as a guide and mentor the current president and vice president. As an added bonus “If both the President and the Vice-President are incapacitated at the same time, the Immediate Past President shall assume the role of President” – during her time on the board Susanna has survived both a pandemic and a hurricane so if anyone would be left standing say, after an airline strike, it would be her!

Susanna’s accomplishments while volunteering with CSTM are numerous: foremost to her was being involved with the collaborative effort that brought Version 4 (2017) of the “CSTM Standards for Hospital Transfusion Services” with the inaugural “Guidance Statements” to the Canadian Transfusion Medicine community. These statements have become increasingly popular and appreciated by all. Secondly (selfishly I wanted to put this first) Susanna sought to acknowledge and recognize the importance of a diversified society of members and made it a goal to bring on new members, specifically filling CSTM’s nursing gap – so everyone can thank/blame her for me being around. In addition to bringing on new members she also supported collaboration between members by supporting the creation of the Transfusion Safety Network where CSTM members of all backgrounds can come together to connect and troubleshoot transfusion safety issues in a supportive multi-disciplinary environment.
Transfusion Medicine – “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.” – Robert Frost
Before we get to those fences, we need to start at the beginning: it was nineteen-eighty-something, Susanna started work full time in the laboratory at Vancouver General Hospital and was being mentored by Margaret Sinclair and Dr. Gershon Growe, CSTM alumni and award winners, who encouraged her to further pursue her education in the transfusion medicine field and to get involved. Flash to the late 1990s, it is a post Krever world (fences anyone?), Susanna has been developing her knowledge and skills when the Diagnostic Accreditation Program puts a call out to technical folk to assist in policy development, Susanna leapt at this opportunity to be involved and quickly starts sharing her expertise. Before joining the Diagnostic Accreditation Program full time as an assessor then later as an accreditation and research development officer where the “other” laboratory medicine disciplines join her scope, Susanna worked in various other roles including with the BC Provincial Blood Coordinating Office where she standardized processes and developed templates and tools for both laboratory and non-laboratory staff involved in transfusion medicine. As a “big bad wolf”, I mean Diagnostic Accreditation Program Assessor, Susanna takes advantage of teaching opportunities with the folk at the sites she assesses and always seeks to help people understand the standards or “fences”, and why they exist, noting that sometimes things run smoothly because of the processes put in place and that in trying to make a process more LEAN the fundamentals behind it may be lost at great risk to patient safety.
Parting Presidential advice?
  • Get involved with CSTM – it enriches your work, even when you think you cannot add another minute of anything to your day getting involved is rejuvenating and gives you more energy and fulfillment.
  • Read a set of standards – preferably CSTM but CSA or others will do. Consider going all the way back to the Krever report to understand where those fences came from!
  • Be proud of what you do – transfusion medicine is often the laboratory area with the fewest non-conformance events during an accreditation, this is the direct result of the pride and dedication of those involved.
  • Pick up the mic at karaoke night and enjoy life – suggested song “Push it” Salt-N-Pepa.
In light of Susanna’s welcoming nature and goal of sustainability CSTM will surely live happily ever after.


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