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Reinventing nursing education in the face of a nursing shortage

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In May 2016, like many other hospitals, BC Children's Hospital was impacted by a worldwide shortage of specially trained OR nurses. Because we serve children throughout the province and beyond, we worked hard to address this issue while maintaining fully staffed ORs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

By daring to think outside the box, Vanja Ryan and Katherine Lidstone, clinical nurse educators in the OR at BC Children's, reinvented education for the hospital's OR nurses. They conducted a best practice analysis and recommended the adoption of the AORN (Association of periOperative Registered Nurses) program. AORN uses the innovative approach of embedding cohorts of learners directly into the OR, allowing new nurses to immediately integrate as part of the team.

Their leadership and guidance resulted in the onboarding of 18 new OR nurses, with a 94 per cent success rate. This helped to restore 100 per cent of access to care within nine months (in combination with another initiatives such as recruiting to fill the OR nursing vacancies).

This spirit of innovation and commitment to our patients and families make Vanja and Katherine truly deserving of a 2017 PHSA+ Award. Get to know more about the dynamic duo below.

Congratulations, Vanja and Katherine, on your PHSA+ Award win! Can you tell us a little bit about what you do at BC Children's?
We are clinical nurse educators in the OR, where we teach the AORN perioperative program. We also coordinate the onboarding of new staff to the OR and preceptorship students. Another part of our jobs include assessing the learning needs of the unit and implementing educational sessions as needed to keep our team up-to-date with ever-changing technology and medical advances.

Vanja, what do you like most about your job?
Vanja: I have always been very passionate about education - that is the career path I wanted to pursue following nursing school. What I like most about my job is having the privilege to organize tools and resources to enhance both my own and my team's knowledge and confidence in the workplace. Having the opportunity to empower others is an incredibly fulfilling experience. 

Katherine, what's your favourite thing about working at BC Children's?
Katherine: The incredible team of people that I get to work with every day! They are what get me out of bed in the morning! We went through a tremendous amount of change in the past 18 months and the determination and leadership they have all shown while we have been going through this challenging time has been nothing short of heroic. 

What is most rewarding about your job; what makes it all worthwhile?
Vanja: There is nothing more rewarding than knowing and seeing the evidence that you have made a positive impact on someone's life or multiple lives. As an educator, that impact spans from training new OR nurses in their careers to witnessing all the positive patient outcomes postoperatively.  

Katherine: Watching the new staff and learners grow and gain confidence in their new roles in our OR has to be the most worthwhile part of my job.

Tell us - what has been your proudest moment at PHSA?
Vanja: The proudest moment I experienced at PHSA was when the entire perioperative team came together to help start our own in-house OR training program for nurses. The project involved very hard work and expertise from every single OR nurse in the department as well as the clinical resource nurses, clinical nurse coordinators, program manager and director. It was a very big undertaking and great team work made it successful. 

Katherine: I have to say my proudest moment at PHSA would be when after having closed two operating rooms due to our nursing shortage, we were able to reopen them within such a short period of time. Being able to provide care again at full capacity for the children of British Columbia made me very proud of our team. 

How do the PHSA values show up in your work?
Vanja: The PHSA value that is at the core of what I do every day is "serve with purpose." Every phone call, email, project or surgery that I complete is done so with the intention of helping others and making a difference, whether it is for a patient, parent or colleague. 

Katherine: I think the value that I try to incorporate into my daily work is "cultivate partnerships." For a teacher and learner relationship to be completely successful, it needs to be a partnership. I need to rely on my student to tell me what their needs and wants are when it comes to their learning. I, in turn, hope that my learners can rely on me to be a source of information, support and mentorship. 

Thank you, Vanja and Katherine, for consistently bringing something extra to our patients and our workplace. 

BC Children's Hospital
Children's Health
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