As we say good bye to nursing students at convocation we wonder where they will be in five years – how their career will have developed, what their plans are for their continued education in nursing, and where they will be living. Christiane Gray-Schleihauf (nee Macpherson) graduated in 2011 and we remember her as a student who participated in Queen’s life and through the Nursing Science Society. Receiving feedback from employers is part of our evaluation process but it can be difficult to find where our graduates are practicing and find the right manager. Occasionally we receive phone calls directly and we relish the opportunity to hear about the wonderful work the graduates are now engaged in, in healthcare. I received a phone call from Nicole Wagner, Advance Practice Nurse, Mental Health and Addictions Program, Humber River Hospital in Toronto on Tuesday 18th February who wanted me to know how much she appreciated Christiane and she believed we at Queen’s could take credit for preparing her for a career in nursing.
This is what Nicole wrote to me later that week
Christiane joined my team just under a year ago. From the interview it was apparent to myself and the program manager that she was going make a huge impact on our program. She had a depth of knowledge and a compassion for this population (addictions) that we knew we were lucky to hire her on.
Just after a few months of working with us, Christiane had gained the respect of our interdisciplinary team and was efficient in making small changes in processes that had huge patient impacts and improved standards of care; For example creating a patient education sheet about the loss of tolerance and safety planning for those discharging from a medical detox. Christiane was solution focused and could easily get her team on board with her initiatives.
Last fall I saw an opportunity to improve the care our patients with addictions receive in our emergency departments (we have 2 sites). Our Central Health Local Integrated Network (CHLIN) had approved a small amount of money for a short-term project to create an addiction medicine consult nurse. Christiane accepted the position for this project. I was confident in her abilities due to the qualities she possess as a nurse:
- She is compassionate, warm and a strong patient advocate
- She practices with the upmost standards as a nurse in all aspects
- Her knowledge of both medicine, addiction medicine, addictions/recovery and concurrent disorders is beyond excellent
- She is an excellent leader and educator
She takes time to explain things to her colleagues in an easygoing, open attitude that does not threaten or make staff feel uncomfortable (and this was crucial for building capacity with or emergency/medicine department nurses and physicians)
- She is organized and efficient
This was important since we are collecting mountain of data to submit to the ministry and the hospital senior administration. Due these qualities and many more, she has made a substantial impact on our hospital
- Patients who were cycling through our ED every other day are now receiving specialized addictions support with our clinic and not going to ED. Their healthcare Journey has improved and the path is more patient centered
- Nurses and Doctors are listening to her and taking her pharmacological recommendations and order suggestions to better manage withdrawal or receive better follow up care
- Different healthcare professionals from around the hospital are calling her just to ask more questions, get some help and even starting to advocate more for their patients in ED and medicine
- When she presents to physicians, some have even applauded! Which in the past mental health and addiction colleagues were not very welcomed
- Now we have incredible data to take back to our senior admin and CLHIN to advocate for the better care of these patients and more funding for hospital based addiction medicine service
It is not very often you come across a nurse like Christiane, to be a nurse and focus on addictions, this is a rare thing, who is especially dedicated to a population so marginalized and oppressed. But her impact as an addictions nurse extends from the patients she sees to our hospital and the community.
Cheryl Pulling and I feel very proud to have known Christiane and look forward to speaking to her in the future about her work.
Jennifer Medves Cheryl Pulling
Vice-Dean (Health Sciences) Undergraduate Coordinator
Director of School of Nursing School of Nursing
P.S. –You can add a very proud Dean and our Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences community to the above!
We are always on the lookout for stories about our grads from the Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Rehabilitation Therapy. If have a story to share, please comment on this blog, send an email to my office firstname.lastname@example.org , or better yet, drop by my office at the Macklem House…my door is always open.