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A senior resource nurse looks over binders with a nursing staffer
April 25, 2018

Introducing… a senior resource nurse

Nicole Freer recently worked as a senior resource nurse in the cardiac surgery unit at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS). She has been with HHS for 11 years and is now a clinical manager in the same-day surgery/post-anesthesia care unit.

What do you love most about your job?

What I love most is working with my team to help patients achieve their personal health goals and an improved quality of life. I also enjoy the endless learning opportunities that arise from the evolution of surgical care and expanding technology.

What do you find challenging?

Interestingly, the most rewarding aspects of this role can also be my greatest challenges. The operating room (OR) is a dynamic space that requires continuous learning around new processes and technology to enhance patient care. I have to ensure every member of the multidisciplinary team has the tools and support required to execute the surgical plan. It requires a significant amount of time, attention to detail and effective communication.

I would compare it to building a quality watch. Each watch is unique with different functions. A watch has at least 130 basic elements but can have over 1,000 additional parts. A well crafted watch provides perfect support to the user, but if a single component requires rework, it can greatly impact the outcome and involve a number of expert opinions to resolve.

The most rewarding aspects of this role can also be my greatest challenges.

Describe a typical day

A typical day would include reviewing who we have on staff that day, providing patient care in the OR suites, educational support for nurses, reviewing cardiac bookings, ordering supplies, coordinating unique instrumentation or devices needed for a case, CQI huddle board leadership, coordinating equipment repair and mentoring nursing staff. Mentoring is something I take quite seriously in my role.

Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS

I have seen some incredible teamwork and patient care achievements, often in stressful situations. A recent example involved my team’s work around the organization’s CQI management system, which helps units solve problems from the bottom up to reduce waste and increase efficiency hospital-wide while improving patient care. We made over 70 process improvements in just over one year including our work to get a new freezer for bone flaps. (Across HHS, CQI units have made over 1700 improvements since January 2016.)

Admittedly, I was hesitant about this new system but I saw sustainable change and began to embrace it. I am impressed by the creative strategies the OR team came up with for highly complex, challenging opportunities. It is extremely rewarding to see change in areas that were originally thought were to be too multi-factorial to impact.

I am impressed by the creative strategies the OR team came up with for highly complex, challenging opportunities.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about your role?

I think people are surprised to find out how many individuals I work with to support operative care. This includes communication with several people and departments across the hospital including surgeons, perfusionists, nursing staff, biomedical engineers, administrative assistants, residents, students, pharmacy services, the central scheduling office and many more.

There is a significant number of staff involved in patient care. Making the surgical experience seamless for the patient and the staff providing the care is my main goal.