Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Critical Care Nurse Olena Svetlov

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Meet Olena Svetlov, a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) in the Cedars-Sinai Critical Care Division. We sat down with her to learn about her past, what she does, and what she hopes for the future.

Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Olena Svetlov

Q: What does an average workday look like?

Olena: My day starts early! Monday through Friday, I get up before 5am. After taking my child to daycare I drive about an hour and a half to work. When I arrive, my leadership team identifies the patients I need to see based on how they did overnight. I connect with their providers to discuss a care plan.

I love collaborating with our physicians. I also enjoy helping our residents learn. I support them as much as I can, and I assist our nurses with their research too. Our patients have had heart, lung, liver, or kidney transplants, and I help with bringing on new nurses. I also participate in daily rounds, where we all review a patient’s case and provide prompt clinical, social, and pharmaceutical support.

I grew up in the former Soviet Union, in Ozernoje, a small military base that was hidden in the woods.

Q: Who inspired you to pursue this career?

Olena: Alice Chan, a CNS at Cedars-Sinai, inspired me to move into this role. She has a very special ability to work with the nurses here, and she always elevates the level of care for patients. I still learn from her every day.

Q: Where did you grow up?

Olena: I grew up in the former Soviet Union, in Ozernoje, a small military base that was hidden in the woods. It’s now a small town in Ukraine. Life was very organized, and we were taught to have a work ethic at an early age. I quickly learned to be a good student and work hard.

Q: How do you spend your free time?

Olena: I enjoy being with my husband, our 4 children, and our pets—a rescued German shepherd and two cats. We love being outdoors, so we spend a lot of time by the ocean.

Q: What’s your favorite “hidden” spot in LA?

Olena: El Matador State Beach, for its natural beauty. Everybody knows about Malibu and Zuma, but few people know about this beautiful place.

I love to cook. It’s when my family and I share stories, chat, and plan our weekends.

Q: What is your favorite food?

Olena: My grandma taught me how to make borscht, a type of Russian soup, and blinchiki, or crepes. I love to cook. It’s when my family and I share stories, chat, and plan our weekends. Once the food is ready, we sit down and enjoy the experience of sharing a meal.

Q: What is something that might surprise people about you?

Olena: I used to work as an anchor at a local Ukrainian TV station, write poems, and perform songs.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

Olena: I’m at the point where I feel I need to give back. When I visited Ukraine this summer, I witnessed how underdeveloped the medical system was. I decided to stop by the local hospital to see if I could give a free seminar on resuscitation and caring for people in the ICU. Some 60 nurses and doctors came, and I was asked to come back next year. I hope to continue, and am delighted that some of my fellow board members from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses want to join me next time.

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