May 10, 2011
Minister of Health celebrates Nursing Week with SickKids nurses
Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, dropped by yesterday afternoon to celebrate Nursing Week with SickKids nurses and to make a funding announcement that will be celebrated by nurses across the province.
Also visiting SickKids for the announcement and to celebrate Nursing Week with SickKids nurses were Debra Bournes, Ontario’s newly appointed Provincial Chief Nursing Officer, and Doris Grinspun, Executive Director of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario and Co-Chair of the Joint Provincial Nursing Committee.
Ontario supports nurses throughout their careers through the Nursing Graduate Guarantee (NGG) program and Late Career Nurse Initiative. The government is investing $99.7 million in the NGG this year to help employers create full-time, six-month positions that can be offered to new nursing graduates. The Late Career Nurse Initiative provides nurses 55 years and older the opportunity to spend a portion of their work time in less physically demanding nursing roles, such as mentorship. Matthews announced at this afternoon’s press conference that the government is investing $8 million annually so that about 1,500 late career nurses can take part in the program.
Before the formal press conference, Matthews visited a sixth-floor playroom and met with Debbie Monck, RN, a participant in the Late Career Nurse Initiative, and Victoria Hunking, RN, a participant in the NGG program. Monck and Hunking were with patient Maia Davies, 6, from Belle River, Ontario, when Matthews dropped by. Maia was colouring a drawing of ‘Nurse Maia’ and if her dream one day does come true, she will be following in Hunking’s footsteps.
Hunking, like Maia, was a patient on 6A as a child and Monck was one of her nurses. Hunking was always fascinated with the work of nurses and when she became a nurse she applied to work at SickKids and asked to work on 6A. Monck became her mentor.
Monck is enjoying her role as a mentor to new grads and thanked the government and SickKids for the opportunity support new staff in their learning.
“I feel privileged to have been an RN at SickKids for 35 years, to have seen the progression of care over the years. The Late Career Nurse Initiative has allowed me to share this knowledge with new nurses,” she said at press conference. “I love to watch nurses develop and I look forward to continuing to guide our new graduate nurses.”
Hunking, a graduate of McMaster University, has been with SickKids for almost a year. For Hunking, the NGG program was a great opportunity to get the job she always wanted at SickKids, working with transplant patients.
“I shadowed Debbie for three months. I got to develop my skills at my own pace. The transition from student to RN was made much easier by the Nursing Graduate Guarantee program,” said Hunking.
Matthews then met and chatted with several 6A nurses, including a few new graduates who have come through the NGG program. Matthews was quite interested in their experiences in the program and asked about the specific mentorship programs that are in place at SickKids. After wishing everyone a Happy Nursing Week, it was off to the formal funding announcement in the Garden Terrace, where Mary Jo Haddad, President and CEO, kicked off the proceedings with an introduction that proudly emphasized the fact that she is a Registered Nurse.
“Nurses provide care, comfort and support to patients and families at some of their most vulnerable moments. As a nurse, I know first-hand how physically and emotionally demanding the job can be and, at the same time, how uniquely rewarding it can be,” said Haddad. “By giving our more experienced nurses an opportunity to engage in other, less physical nursing roles, such as mentoring or teaching patients, we can retain and share their great wealth of knowledge. We are delighted that the government is continuing to support efforts to keep late-career nurses in the health-care system where their skills and experience are so desperately needed.”
SickKids has participated in the NGG program since 2007, providing more than 300 of the participant nurses with full-time work at the Hospital. The program ensures effective and focused orientation for our new nurses and a consistent approach to supporting new nurses across Ontario for the first months of a nurse’s career – often a very stressful and challenging period.
“It is one of the best programs for nurses we have seen,” said Haddad. “When nurses are appropriately supported and encouraged in their careers, patients and families benefit and health outcomes improve."
At the conclusion of the announcement, SickKids patients presented a My Nurse Is Great banner to the SickKids RNs that were on stage for the announcement. A fitting way to end the day and a wonderful way to kick off Nursing Week at SickKids!