It is often said that nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system, and nurses like Kerry-Ann Raymond are a testament to that. With over a decade of experience in different areas of nursing, this passionate healthcare professional took some time from her busy week to speak with us about her career and the lessons she has learned along the way, in hopes of inspiring other nurses to continue giving their best to this rewarding profession.
This is what registered nurse (RN) Kerry-Ann Raymond told us:
I've been a registered nurse now for the past ten years, after graduating from York University in 2011. I started through the New Grad Initiative program. I got hired by the clinical resource team at William Osler, and I started in the area of surgery. I initially worked on general surgeries, short stays, and orthopaedics, and I worked on both sides of the organization.
I love surgery a lot. I was trained by nurses who were very passionate about what I was passionate about, so I really thought that was going to be the area that I was going to retire in, I thought that was it. I found my area. But two years into my career, I remember the educator as she approached me, and she offered me an experience to work in the outpatient department at Etobicoke General, and I decided to go. I was a new nurse, a little intimidated by the new experience, but I wanted a new challenge. While being there, I had a lot of mentorship and experience working in the minor procedure clinic and in the urgent care clinic. There were just so many different areas. I did that for six months, and then I returned back to the clinical resource team I continued to float as a surgical nurse, on both sides.
However, when I returned, I just had a different level of practice because of all that I was able to acquire in the outpatient department and all the mentorship that I received there. So my practice was very different. I was very much more of an investigative thinker. I wanted to know deeper because I believe what the outpatient department did for me; it showed me that medicine is really the backbone of our health care system. And then it goes into either more medical interventions or it goes into surgery. But everything starts medically.
So I continued floating as a surgical nurse, but in our hospital, there was a lot of code gridlock being called because we had a lot of hallway medicine. As you know, in Brampton, we have one hospital and the city has grown exponentially more than what was anticipated initially, so our emergency department is one of the busiest in Ontario. And I wanted to give back in terms of expanding my experience, so I decided that I wanted to offer my experience doing some medicine as well, and that's when the project 59 Flex Beds started in response to the gridlock that was happening. Those were beds that were opened up in vacant areas of the hospital according to what was needed at the moment, and that's where I would say I developed a lot of my critical thinking skills because you showed up for work, you found out that we were going to open up a flex-bed in a particular area, etc. That's where a lot of my leadership skills were also developed.
The last two years have been more of a medical experience for me working in acute care, working with the ICU staff, receiving their transfers, receiving patients from the emergency department. So most of my experience up until this point has been acute care medicine, and it's more of a medical focus, but still some surgical component.
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Oh, that's a deep question. I would answer by saying that nursing for me was I believe a calling I believe that every individual has something innate within them that's a solution to a problem in the world. And for me, nursing was that. I believe that if I did not become a nurse, I would have some sort of discontentment because my passion to care for others was just always evident, ever since I was very young.
And I would also say that I had some unique circumstances that shaped me in bringing what was in me out. And it was just expressed in the form of nursing. I would say my family has been very influential in terms of how they raised me. My mom specifically, and my aunts. Growing up, I saw them volunteering in the community, taking care of people who were in need and to this day, if I call my aunt right now, she will tell you that she has someone on her list in the community that she cares for.
So she's in Jamaica and we speak every day. She helps people that are sometimes elderly and homeless. It really inspires me because sometimes we are so busy that we don't see the needs of our neighbours or people in the community outside of the hospital that we can volunteer and help. And that's what she does. So growing up, I was able to see that. I remember even as a child, there was a man who was homeless, and he pretty much just went around the neighbourhood. And growing up, I saw my mom invite him into our yard and just offer him a meal and help him.
And she would offer to volunteer at group homes and do the members' hair, so it was not just her instilling values and telling me that this is how you should be in life. It was her lifestyle that really inspired me. So I would definitely say those unique circumstances and just growing up and seeing those things, and to this day, still hearing that my mom and my aunt talking about how they volunteer in the community in the way that they do, without any expectation of pay, it's just for the satisfaction of being a giver. That really inspires me. So I would say that's exactly why I decided to go into nursing. And, funny thing as well, I remember as a child you know, how we're all asked what is it that we want to be when we grow up? I didn't say I wanted to be a nurse. I said I wanted to be a teacher. And I believe I said that because there's a part of me that loves to educate and empower others with information and knowledge. And, you know, I believe I'm a teacher but in the context of nursing, because still I don't see myself literally teaching math or English or something like that.
My favourite part of my nursing experience is being able to educate the patients and providing them with information that empowers them to make decisions for themselves. That's my absolute favourite, being able to mentor new hires and just to see them grow into more experienced nurses, to see them where I started, which is a bit timid and a bit overwhelmed coming into your career with all the expectations and all the responsibilities, and just being able to see them grow and being a part of that journey for them. That's my favourite part. So I would say all those situations, all of that is what really makes me into a nurse and why I wanted to be a nurse.
I also love surgery. As I said, that was my initial love, my passion when I first started. And I believe it's because I was able to see a patient come in a certain way and see them follow a care plan like "this is what we're going to do in order to get you back on track" and seeing them meet those goals and just getting back to the best version of themselves. I think that's what I loved or I still do. This is the best part I would say of nursing, just seeing a person start a certain way and just seeing that transformation.
So whether it's me being an educator, or working at the bedside, in whatever capacity, just being able to see that transformation process, that's definitely my favourite part.
I've learned a lot of lessons, but I should say the biggest is being able to prioritize and being an organized person. It definitely came by experience, after overcoming many challenges I was able to develop this skill. When I first started my career, I multitasked a lot. Every demand that is thrown at you, you feel the pressure and you think "that it's my responsibility, I need to do all this" and you find yourself multitasking a lot, which will absolutely drain you.
I'm glad I stuck it out, but I found that it was a problem very early on, and so I knew I had to find a solution to it. And that's when I started to learn the art of real prioritization. And it does come with experience. It does come with mentorship. Just being able to be organized and think very quickly, I would say that's one of the biggest lessons.
Second I would say being a good communicator is absolutely essential in the area of nursing. I think it's so important that it should be a part of the nursing program. There should be an entire course dedicated to communication. Understanding different communication styles and when to use a certain communication style for a certain type of situation. Great communication is absolutely essential.
The third is that compassion fatigue is, it's real. It's real, real, real in the area of nursing. And so for me, what has worked is really being able to set long term and short term goals for my career. The College of Nurses, they're really good with that because whenever you renew your license, it gives you the opportunity to reflect on what you have done for that year.
To develop your career, to develop yourself personally. Right. And even it gives you a projection piece where you have to do a care plan. It's really casting your vision of what you want for the next year for your career. So yeah, I would say those are my three biggest lessons. I had to learn the hard way, but the journey was worth it, I would say.
That's a great question, and even I am still meditating on that. I think being able to be compassionate is a skill. When we feel that someone cares, we're able to open up more. So definitely bringing that to the table as a health care worker is absolutely essential.
On the other hand, I would say mentorship and feedback are tools that I use. I don't know if it's a trick or whatever it is, but I definitely believe in having feedback and having effective mentorship, or just having someone that you can emulate, someone that you see how they practice, how they conduct themself. It's just really aspiring to have some of those skills and really connecting with that person.
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And even just no matter how many years you've been a nurse, it's always essential to double-check or just to run your thought by another senior nurse or someone who's trusted. And just to hear their feedback, it really makes a difference, especially with medications. You're dealing with the lives of people. And so I would definitely say, you know, mentorship and feedback, it will bring you all the way through your career and no matter how high you go, it's very very, very essential to have that in your life.
I think it's an absolutely amazing platform. You know, it's very organized. It gave me the opportunity to do a lot of reflection because it almost felt like an avatar if you will, where I was captured in this entire profile. I thought it was just very easy to use, very easy to navigate. I think it's amazing. I've had a great experience using it so far, and I'm just eager to see where it goes and just to get deeper into it.
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