"Learning and Collaborating on Behalf of Patient Centred Care"

By Sherri Kensall, MSN, C Neph (c), CDE, C Gen (c)

Clinical Nurse Specialist
NNPBC Board Chair, RN Council President

It was 'go-live' On November 5th at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) as the team worked to implement Cerner as part of our broader Clinical & Systems Transformation (CST) project. Cerner is a cloud-based electronic health record that will help us streamline administrative processes so that health care teams can focus more wholly on providing exceptional patient care. In a nutshell it makes our administrative load easier, provides access across sites, updates patient information in real-time, and integrates patient care records into a digital system. As one colleague put it, finally no more needing to decipher handwriting!

My colleagues and I on the hemodialysis unit at VGH jumped in ready to learn. The entire team had support from many of those already using Cerner. Supporting us we had the Cerner Team, the CST teams, the hemodialysis team from Providence Health Care who have been using Cerner for a few years, as well as physicians Drs. Copland and Harris, Florence Ng, Patient Services Manager at the VGH Renal Program, and our vascular access nurse. Patients were, dare I say it, very patient as we worked through our learning and initial usage.

What struck me as I learned this new to me system along with my colleagues was the way in which external teams supported internal VGH teams. They shared best practices, workflow information, real-life usage tips and tricks and provided us guidance on how to build our own routines. We listened to each other to get a sense for what we needed and how it could work on our particular unit. The teams were forthcoming, supportive, and highly collaborative. Many commented that the support from our colleagues from other sites reminded us how important it is to not only work together, but to connect as health professionals in work that benefits what we care about most, providing exceptional care to patients and clients. Learning something new is not always easy but we all recognize the need to make changes in how we approach patient care, particularly at a time when we know that the burden on health care, and specifically nurses, is intense and when we so often work short-staffed. The nursing team was engaged, asked good questions, and worked towards practical solutions.

With food and coffee in hand, all of us on the hemodialysis team began the work of ‘unpacking’ this new system. Like moving into a new house, there is always unpacking to do, and while you may not be able to find your favourite coffee mug right away, you are excited for the change and look forward to new possibilities. The team was energized by the collaboration, appreciative of having good colleagues and united in our joint effort to make the challenging work of health care better for patients.

I know that as nursing professionals we hold a complex body of scientific knowledge, are highly educated experts in relational practice, and that we are essential leaders in transforming our health care system. On November 5th, we had a chance to focus the usage of a new system through the lens of nurses who all stepped up and demonstrated that nursing leadership happens at every level, from the unit, the bedside, to the board room.

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