Nurses nurturing nurses at Sunnybrook & Women’s Critical Care Unit

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A new mentorship program at Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre is a fresh approach to training new nurses in the Critical Care Unit. New nurses are teamed with an experienced practitioner to provide the new staff person with a highly individualized and flexible learning opportunity.

Through the promotion of excellence in professional practice, the goal is to provide a network of support and guidance that will lead to empowering new nurses. Sunnybrook & Women’s nursing mentors Barbara Duncan, Wendell Greenidge and Sue Walker all possess leadership qualities and sound clinical knowledge in the Critical Care Unit.

“Mentorship offers a continuous support system for new hires in the Critical Care Unit,” says Walker. “Throughout the mentorship program the mentors and mentees can learn from each other through shared experiences. The mentor is there to respect, guide, advise and support the mentees as they learn to become confident, self-reliant, resourceful and independent critical care nurses.”

Working in the Critical Care Unit (CrCU) is fast-paced, so it is essential that new nurses become adjusted to their schedules. “We saw the need to implement a day-to-day, shift-by-shift program to provide new recruits additional resources for support,” says Gerry Hubble, a clinical leader in the CrCU. “We tailored the program to the individual needs of the nurses to ensure the best care to our patients.”

“The mentorship program fosters an environment that promotes learning through the process of self-actualization, leading to personal and professional growth by both the mentor and mentees,” says Duncan. “We want nurses to feel comfortable when asking questions, so mentors are here to guide them through their challenges.”

Since its inception in February 2004, the staff in the CrCU has noticed a positive shift in overall morale. “I’ve gained a solid sense of security and leadership,” says Melissa Dobbins, a new CrCU nurse. “It was helpful knowing that the mentors were available and approachable.” Overall, nurses are more comfortable in the environment and feel empowered by the knowledge they have gained. “I’m happy to belong to the Sunnybrook & Women’s,” says Dobbin. “The high level of care that the patients receive is a direct reflection of the nurses who work at Sunnybrook & Women’s.”

Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre is transforming health care through the dedication of its more than 8,500 staff members who provide compassionate and innovative patient focused care. An internationally recognized leader in women’s health, academic research and education and an affiliation with the University of Toronto distinguishes Sunnybrook & Women’s as one of Canada’s premier health sciences centres. Sunnybrook & Women’s specializes in caring for newborns, adults and the elderly, treating and preventing cancer, heart problems, orthopaedic and arthritic conditions and traumatic injuries.