Interacting with our patients is what I love the most: listening to their stories, helping them to understand their disease, and sharing in their joy and grief.

Know Your Heroes: Colina Yim

Know Your Heroes showcases the many different people and roles that make up #TeamUHN. We celebrate these people, who strive to make the world a healthier place every day.

Name: Colina Yim

Role: Nurse Practitioner – Francis Family Liver Clinic

Lives in: Toronto

Years in health care: 36


I decided to get into health care as a random decision after high school when I enrolled in a university nursing program. I was unsure what I wanted to study at that time. My decision to stay in nursing came during my second-year university clinical practicum, where I was fascinated with the multifaceted human responses to illness. Interacting with our patients is what I love the most: listening to their stories, helping them to understand their disease, and sharing in their joy and grief.

My role here at UHN is nurse practitioner at the Francis Family Liver Clinic within the Toronto Centre for Liver Disease. I have worked at the clinic for 32 years, and have been in the nurse practitioner role for 18 years. I provide care and services to individuals with viral hepatitis B or C and those with advanced liver disease.

Although COVID-19 has created unprecedented fear and anxiety in society, I’ve found that I’m not as affected as others. This is perhaps because I lived through SARS and feel prepared. That said, sadly I lost one of my siblings to an unexpected death during the pandemic (unrelated to COVID-19), so COVID-19 will always be part of my family’s history.

The thing I love the most about my job is interacting with patients and being able to help them understand their liver disease, improve their illness experiences and, ultimately, live with a healthier liver. It’s most rewarding for me when I know my work has made a difference in people’s lives and there are thank-you notes from patients and families telling me how much my care meant to them. Recently, a patient told me: “I am living today because of you.” I’ll never forget that moment.

The most incredible thing I’ve seen at work is the amazing enthusiasm, energy, time and commitment that volunteer patients and their family members put forward to making the Francis Family Liver Clinic’s Chinese Hepatitis B Peer Support Group a success. This peer support group, which I lead, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. This volunteer group has connected countless patients living with chronic hepatitis B to provide them with peer support and improve their illness experience. Many friendships have developed among the volunteer patients as a result. I will continue to work with this group and help them thrive and persevere during COVID-19, and despite physical distancing restrictions.

I’m inspired by the many innovative activities in and around the city that have developed as a result of COVID-19. Challenging times also create opportunities. I love the Drive-In Film Festival that took place at Ontario Place in July. There is now another drive-in movie ground close to where I live. Thank you to the organizers of these unique events, which I support as much as I can!

One of my personal heroes is Dr. Jenny Heathcote. Dr. Heathcote, who founded the liver clinic and is now retired, is my physician mentor. She was my inspiration throughout the 26 years that we worked together. She showed me what an exemplary academic clinician is. Her commitment and dedication in her professional practice, teaching and research activities inspired me to thrive in the field of liver disease.

My favourite movie is The Sound of Music. I absolutely love this movie – have watched it over and over (have lost count of how many times). I love the story, the music, the songs and I love Julie Andrews!

My ideal day off is Friday. A three-day weekend every week would be ideal!