Educating nurses to provide exceptional care

Being a lifelong learner has always been important to Vanessa Doiron. Following her nursing degree in New Brunswick, she gained experience on an orthopedics trauma surgical unit and was always interested in continuing her education. She pursued specialty education courses in orthopedics and completed a trauma nursing certification course but still felt the need for more of a challenge.

Her interest in trauma nursing led her to pursue critical care nursing and she moved to Calgary so she could work in a Level 1 trauma centre at Foothills Medical Centre.

Vanessa is currently a Clinical Nurse Educator in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) while she is also pursuing her Masters degree in Healthcare Quality, focusing on quality improvement, championing change, and highlighting the importance of delivering excellence in health care.

“I like to know why we’re doing things the way that we are and questioning how our standard of practice came to be. I want to see how we can change things as nurses within the health care system. This Masters aligned well with my interests because I wanted to focus primarily on patient safety and quality improvement,” Vanessa said.

After completing her Masters, she plans to continue being a Clinical Nurse Educator as she loves supporting, mentoring and educating other nurses. In her role, she does formal teaching, orientation classes, and supports ongoing certifications and skills competencies. Working in the ICU, she also is at the bedside for support, as well as being involved in research. 

Vanessa was awarded the Florence and Lloyd Cooper Alberta Registered Nurses Educational Trust (ARNET) Scholarship for the excellence she’s shown in pursuing her Masters program. Education advancement and research is one of Calgary Health Foundation’s priority areas in enhancing health care for our community.

“I feel really proud to be amongst the winners of this scholarship. I’m blown away by the work nurses are doing in our province. I’m super grateful to the Cooper family and Calgary Health Foundation.”

The scholarship has helped to alleviate the financial stress of going back to school and has allowed Vanessa to focus on her studies instead of worrying about picking up extra shifts.

“Pursuing my Masters will help me be a better nurse educator. Applying the knowledge I’ve gained through leadership and being able to build capacity within my current role to continue improving quality and safety is very important to me.”

Vanessa sees a career in nursing to be full of opportunities. She aims to highlight the diverse array of roles beyond bedside nursing to others.

“There’s value in all nursing roles but there’s less awareness for new nurses in roles like nursing led research, educator roles and non-traditional nursing opportunities. You can always find something that will align with what you’re interested in within the umbrella of nursing.”

The most challenging part of Vanessa’s career is the extremely fast-paced environment where she often meets people on the worst days of their lives. It’s important for her to try to balance the nursing demands while having a compassionate, person-centered approach.

Being able to make meaningful connections and positively impact patients and families’ lives is what she finds most rewarding. When she was a primary nurse, she would choose to stay with a family for the entirety of their stay at the hospital, so the patient would have the same nurse for continuity. She found this to benefit both her and the patient, as having a consistent person helped build trust in a very challenging time.

From an educator perspective, she’s found mentoring and witnessing the staff’s development, from their early days in critical care to the maturation of their bedside skills, to be the most fulfilling aspect of teaching.

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