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Vera Gueorguieva: Excellence in nursing education

By Greg Mackiewicz

Vera Gueorguieva

Vera Gueorguieva began working at SickKids in 1998 as a staff nurse in General Paediatrics, Respirology and Infectious Diseases, and is currently Advanced Nursing Practice Educator at the Centre for Nursing. She holds an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Toronto.

An enthusiastic teacher and champion for students who are pursuing a career in nursing, Gueorguieva holds an adjunct clinical appointment at U of T and is an adjunct lecturer at Nipissing University. She is also a member of the Nursing Advisory Committee at the Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning.

In 2010, she received the Grace Evelyn Simpson Reeves Award for Excellence in Nursing Education, an award that recognizes SickKids nurses’ commitment to excellence in education of staff, patients and families.

Tell us about an initiative that you are working on to support learning at SickKids.

SickKids is a desired clinical placement site for many nursing students hoping to complete a rotation in paediatrics. A large portion of my work involves collaboration with our academic partners and SickKids educators to maximize our capacity for student placement.  Increasing access to interprofessional education (IPE) opportunities for students through seminars, workshops, participation in team meetings and IPE shadowing activities is another aspect of my role. Modifying the way students from the health professions are educated is key to ensuring that everyone has the skills, values and beliefs necessary to work well in interprofessional teams in order to provide cohesive and well integrated care to patients.

How does learning make SickKids a better place?

With today’s expansion of health sciences information and treatment modalities, we are all challenged to keep up-to-date on recent developments in our fields. Health care today is becoming increasingly more complex and if we are to improve our patients’ outcomes and to keep our place as a leader in paediatric care we all need to continue to learn and explore.

Which education initiative at SickKids inspires you?

The ongoing work of staff who provide clinical supervision to students and new staff through the preceptor role is inspirational. By working with front-line clinicians, novices learn to respond competently to a wide spectrum of complex patient care situations. It takes a lot of effort, skill and time to help students translate theoretical knowledge so that they can apply it in complex, emotionally charged or unpredictable situations. Preceptors undertake this role in addition to their patient care responsibilities and they deserve special recognition.

What makes working at SickKids special?

My colleagues make working at SickKids special for me, and they are the reason that I have stayed here since I was a new graduate nurse.  I draw inspiration from their dedication, enthusiasm and desire for continuous improvement.  I have worked in a number of areas and with colleagues from different health professions and I think that everyone is committed to providing high quality care and services to the patients and families we work with.

How do you think education will change in the future?

I believe that in the future we will have less separation of theory and applied knowledge.  Currently clinical and classroom teaching occurs in different settings, taught by different instructors with modest efforts being made to coordinate theory and clinical experiences.  As a result, many students struggle with the integration of theory and practice when they find themselves in the clinical setting.  Although lectures may seem as a convenient way of reaching large audiences, most educators are coming to the realization that even the most engaging lecturers cannot impart knowledge, skills and change in attitudes the same way experiential learning does.