Sheila Ebbett, NBNU
Sheila is a general duty nurse at Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital, Fredericton, N.B. Currently she works in the Post Anesthetic Care Unit while in the past she has worked in the ER and the General Surgery Unit. Sheila spends her off-work time parenting/coaching, playing hockey, golf, and in Union activities.
It was amidst the backlash of the “downsizing” and “rightsizing” of the early 1990s in New Brunswick that beginning practitioners entering the profession lost a precious professional lifeline. Squeezed out of the picture were direct supervisors such as head nurses or clinical supervisors, many opting, not out of choice, to contend with mountains of paper rather than coaching and mentoring young nurses entering the profession, as part of their everyday work.
Sheila Ebbett, a general duty nurse at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, Fredericton, N.B., remembers the ripple effect of that void: “Young nurses were floundering and many journeyed a long way down the tubes before their deficiencies were recognized and addressed.”
“What was happening is that many new grads were not thriving. There wasn’t anyone to assess their day-to-day performance, recognize shortcomings, and propose supportive actions such as moving them to another area or reducing their workload,” said Sheila Ebbett.
So as a result of losing new recruits because they felt unsupported, the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, in 2000, introduced the concept of the “resource nurse” charged with supervising nursing care and contributing to performance appraisals. Senior nurses assume the role for a six-month period on a rotating basis.
“The resource nurse concept is working,” says Ms. Ebbett. “We’re picking up more people that need to work on certain skills or develop particular competencies. As a result, fewer new recruits are falling through the cracks. It’s also had a positive impact on retention,” she said.
“It’s not a perfect system. What I’m happy about is that the importance of our senior nursing leaders and their vital role in mentoring was recognized,” said Ms. Ebbett.
“I’m hopeful that further innovative ideas can be introduced to provide new graduates with an even ‘softer place to fall,'” she concluded.