”I always wanted to help people and as a nurse I am able to.“
Oksana Valoroso has been a Registered Practical Nurse for 8 years. She is currently working at Baycrest as a community nurse and has been doing so for six years. Baycrest offers services to the community such as hospital, long-term care home, residential and community-based programs and outpatient medical clinics, designed especially for Ontario’s older adults. Nursing was a second career for Oksana; she first attended Lviv University in Ukraine where she studied chemical engineering from 1985-1989. After many years she decided to change her field and entered the practical nursing program in 2003 at George Brown College in Toronto and completed her studies two years after because she always wanted to help people and felt nursing was the career she could do so.
After graduating from the practical nursing program, Oksana started her nursing career in long term care. However, Oksana did not feel fulfilled in her role and jumped at the opportunity to work as a community health nurse at Baycrest when she saw the posting. Eight years later Oksana says that she is very happy she made that career move because she is never doing the same work day to day. Oksana says it is fulfilling to see the successful outcomes of her clients and she is proud to be part of these accomplishments. She also enjoys the supportive environment as she encourages her colleagues’ professional development just as her colleagues encourage her own career growth.
She explains that in her current role she is part of a multidisciplinary team. She explains that she uses a psychosocial model to provide psychosocial experiences for her clients. Her main focus as the community nurse is to engage the clients in the programs that are provided. Offer windows of opportunities to other departments within Baycrest by referring the client to other departments for support and treatment. She explains that referring clients is a main responsibility of the community nurse not like in the hospital where it is the responsibility of the medical doctor or attending.
The population that Oksana serves in the community is seniors and their ages range from 60-101 years. The individuals in their later years may require more assistance and guidance at times than others because some of them have experienced the Holocaust and are survivors. Oksana explains that they respond in both positive and negative ways toward her because some want to share their experience, while some do not ever speak of their experience. “Survivor guilt is quite common in this population because they remember that they survived and until this day do not know why”, Oksana explains. This is a very good example of why the community nurse and the psychiatric outreach team have a close relationship. Oksana knows that it is important to partner with other specialists to ensure the best approach to care and health outcomes for the client.
As a community nurse, producing and contributing to projects is part of her role. Oksana has completed a number of projects related to nursing and the community. After completing her post graduate Health and Informatics Certificate at George Brown College in 2009, she participated in the upgrade to Meditech (an information system used in healthcare). She has also participated in the allergy documentation update for orientation of new Baycrest staff members. Currently, she is developing and implementing the RAI-CHA assessment tool with a down time documenting process, and care plans based on the RAI-CHA assessment tool.
She was successful in these projects because of her engagement in continuing education. Oksana eagerly states that she will be continuing her education this fall as she will be pursuing a Bachelor of Allied Health degree.
Oksana has been recognized for her hard work. She, along with other colleagues that are part of the Inter RAI-CHA implementation team, was recognized for their project that adopted a new computerized standard assessment instrument (Baycrest Matters, 2013). Together they received the Excellence through Teamwork RAI-CHA Implementation Team Achievement of Excellence. Oksana has also received in 2012, Innovations in Aging Annual Recognition Award.
As much as Oksana loves her job she admits to some of the challenges being a community nurse. She explains, “When working in community, you need partners whether it is the client’s family, their doctor, external community services or internal facility services. It can be difficult when you as the nurse recognize the client’s need but do not have the resources nor the support and this is where in community health care the care teams sometimes lack communication and collaboration.”
She enjoys working at Baycrest. She says that health promotion and prevention is used to address acute issues. She goes on to state that formal education is provided in groups; they counsel individuals and the social worker and the nurse work collaboratively and are present during these times of education and counselling. They ensure that family members and private caregivers receive the same education to support the client at home regarding issues such as bowel routines, diabetic education, and mobility issues that can put the client’s safety at risk.
Oksana admits that she became a member of RPNAO mostly because of the professional liability insurance offered and encourages all RPNs to do the same; she knows that RPNAO’s professional liability insurance will cover her if she changes jobs, takes a leave of absence – as long as she maintains her membership – and it includes legal defence. She states that membership with RPNAO has is invaluable with its career development and supports. She hopes to pursue the RPNAO Leadership/Clinical Practice Fellowship because it recognizes the leadership potential and innovation of RPNs and would like to offer her expertise in any way that she can.