Con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion

NOW Magazine - Class Action - - CLASS ACTION | - Com­piled by KEVIN RITCHIE

I grad­u­ated with a bach­e­lor of science in nurs­ing from a col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­gram of Seneca Col­lege and York Univer­sity in 2008 and went straight into crit­i­cal care nurs­ing. I did my crit­i­cal care pro­gram at Seneca af­ter grad­u­a­tion, and a year af­ter that I started work­ing in the emer­gency depart­ment at Markham Stouf­fville Hos­pi­tal.

To be a new grad work­ing in crit­i­cal care, which is usu­ally an ICU or emer­gency depart­ment, is very dif­fi­cult. To be an emerg nurse you need a lot more knowl­edge and a lot more skills. I liked that there was no set rou­tine – you don’t get the same pa­tients ev­ery day. You have to play de­tec­tive and find out what’s go­ing on, and a lot of times the nurses ini­ti­ate treat­ment be­fore the doc­tor sees the pa­tient. In emer­gency, you see car­diac pa­tients, which is why I went back and did my coro­nary care cer­tifi­cate at Seneca.

One of the main things in coro­nary care is to iden­tify car­diac rhythms: What is reg­u­lar? What is ir­reg­u­lar? You have to be able to iden­tify the rhythm or what the prob­lem is be­fore you know the treat­ment or how bad some­thing is. You have the not-so-bad rhythms that are not great but aren’t go­ing to kill your pa­tient; then you have rhythms that are bad, what they call ar­rhyth­mias. That’s a big part of the course and what we do in the emer­gency depart­ment.

Heart prob­lems are some­thing we put pri­or­ity on, but you need to be able to tell very quickly if pa­tients are in dan­ger of de­te­ri­o­ra­tion and whether they need the doc­tor right away. Can they sit in a chair and wait for two hours? That’s your call, and it takes knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence to make it.

Some of my best mo­ments are when the fam­ily comes back to thank me. If the pa­tients are very un­well or need spe­cial­ized surg­eries or care, we have to trans­fer them to ter­tiary cen­tres such as Sun­ny­brook, St. Mike’s or Western Hos­pi­tal. We al­ways won­der how they’re do­ing, so the big­gest re­ward is when they come back later to say, “Hey, I’m do­ing well now. Thank you for your care. You re­ally made a dif­fer­ence.”

I did a master’s of nurs­ing at Ry­er­son Univer­sity. Af­ter work­ing for a num­ber of years, I thought, “Do I want to do a dif­fer­ent kind of bed­side nurs­ing or take my ca­reer to another level?” When you’re a nurse for a num­ber of years, you take on stu­dents who shadow you and do ev­ery­thing you do. I’d had two stu­dents pre­vi­ously and I re­ally en­joyed that, so I thought it would be good to move my ca­reer to­ward nurs­ing ed­u­ca­tion. So now I’m in the emer­gency depart­ment part­time and teach­ing part-time at Seneca.

In those 14-week cour­ses, you have a lot of in- depth pro­fes­sional, but also per­sonal, in­ter­ac­tions with your stu­dents. It’s a dif­fer­ent way of teach­ing. You spend a lot of time to­gether, and the re­wards are tremen­dous, be­ing able to pass on your knowl­edge and feel like you’ve made a dif­fer­ence.

As an emer­gency nurse, you have to play de­tec­tive, and you see a lot of car­diac pa­tients, which is why I pur­sued a coro­nary care cer­tifi­cate at Seneca.

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