Full on-site nurse training a first for KHSC

News / General
By Christine Maloney

On May 6, a group of 12 nurses started training on-site to work in the operating rooms at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC)

If you are calm under pressure, detail oriented, have stamina, and like working with your hands, you have some of the unique traits needed to be an operating room (OR) nurse. After becoming a registered nurse or registered practical nurse, you will also need specialized training, which until now you would have had to travel outside of Kingston for up to four months to get it.

Through a recent partnership with Algonquin College, complete OR Perioperative Nursing certification is now available on-site at KHSC to existing nursing staff. Before this, only coursework could be completed on-site, and trainees had to go to Algonquin in Ottawa or George Brown College in Toronto to complete their practical lab work.

Christal Scheel’s new role as a Clinical Learning Specialist is an important part in how KHSC is able to provide this training on-site. A former OR nurse of 13 years, Scheel will be leading students through their practical learning, which includes, and by no means is limited to, setting up an OR, checking equipment and instruments, gowning and gloving surgeons, positioning patients, documenting procedures, communicating effectively with Central Processing Services, and handling lab specimens.

“I’m very excited about this new recruiting initiative, as it will make it easier for KHSC nurses to pursue their goals of becoming OR nurses,” says Scheel. “I’m honoured to be a part of their training and to witness the start of what will be very rewarding careers in the OR.”

Like most hospitals across Canada, KHSC is challenged by a shortage of OR nurses. They are critical members of the surgical team, and without enough of them, our ORs are unable to operate at full capacity.

In addition to the 12 nurses who started their full on-site training yesterday, and who will be starting and completing their 4-week placements this summer, four more OR nurses recently finished their placements and four others are starting their placements this week. By mid-summer, KHSC will have a total of 20 new OR nurses fully trained and contributing their expertise to the surgical team.

Over the long-term, it is anticipated that this new effort to hire more OR nurses will have positive effects on the wait times our patients experience for surgery.

Helping patients get better through surgery and working one-on-one with them is partly what drew Scheel into OR nursing after working on a medicine unit for two years. For others, like Jordan den Ouden, their journeys to becoming OR nurses started with childhood dreams of being a surgeon.

“I’ve always wanted to work in operating rooms,” says den Ouden, who is one of the new OR nurses and who finished his OR placement just over a week ago. “I really enjoy the high intensity that comes with being a scrub nurse at a trauma centre – it’s challenging and exciting, and no two days are exactly the same.” Prior to training to be an OR nurse, den Ouden worked as a perianesthesia nurse at KHSC’s HDH site.

“On behalf of the entire executive team, I warmly welcome our new OR nurses, wish the nurses in OR training great success, and hope all nurses across KHSC have a great National Nursing Week,” says Mike McDonald, Chief Nursing Executive and Executive VP Patient Care and Community Partnerships at KHSC.