Regina Young, NLNU
Regina is an operating room nurse, in charge of the orthopedic service. Married for 31 years, she has a 29-year-old daughter who lives in Qatar. Regina likes to sew, read, and do crafts. She and her husband enjoy camping and, their newest hobby, riding their motorcycle.
As an operating room nurse in central Newfoundland and Labrador, I’ve seen how non-nursing duties impact how we perform our nursing jobs, including taking us away from providing patients the nursing care they deserve. Fortunately, I’ve also seen the benefits of reducing those non-nursing duties requirements as well.
About ten years ago, the NLNU initiated a Code of Conduct that saw nurses stop performing specific non-nursing duties, such as stocking supplies and cleaning cupboards. In a busy operating room, these were very time-consuming tasks. As a result of that initiative, our employer hired additional support staff to relieve nurses of these duties and enabled us to focus on nursing care.
Over the last number of years we have seen the non-nursing duties expected of nurses increase again, particularly as staffing shortages have affected many healthcare professions. Despite the growing nursing shortage, nurses seem to be the ones expected to fill in the gaps and take on the extra duties. To alleviate this growing workload during our own nursing shortage, our union initiated a non-nursing duties campaign this past fall. This campaign has once again empowered nurses and improved our workplace.
Our manager has supported nurses throughout the campaign, which has strengthened our working relationship with her considerably. We have had some of the non-nursing duties transferred to other support staff, which has improved the overall function of the OR. For example, the pharmacy technicians now consistently check for outdated drugs on anesthetic carts, which nurses had been doing whenever we weren’t busy. The SPD department has increased its hours of operation to decrease the emergency cases we have to pick up after hours. Collectively, by working with our manager and our colleagues we have improved the efficiency of our unit. Our campaign is evidence that teamwork is a powerful advantage in any healthcare setting.
“Initiating the non-nursing duties campaign was extremely important for increasing our employer’s awareness of the amount of time nurses spend doing work that can be capably and efficiently handled by other healthcare employees. As nurses, we often take on these additional duties without realizing how much time it takes us away from our patients, and by taking that time back and engaging the healthcare team, we can all provide better patient care.”