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New round of the Late Career Nurse Initiative launches this month

Toronto, September 23, 2013

By Patricia Favre

Nurses participating in this year's Late Career Nurse Initiative at St. Michael's Hospital
Nurses participating in this year's Late Career Nurse Initiative at St. Michael's Hospital
Home page photo: Registered nurse Cheryl Turzanski shares her expertise with nurse colleague, Gabriel Lee. (Photos by Katie Cooper)

Cheryl Turzanski has worked at St. Michael’s Hospital for more than 30 years.

Her career as a registered nurse has included work in the neurosurgery ICU, surgical daycare and family practice.

The Late Career Nurse Initiative gives nurses like Turzanski the opportunity to spend part of their time in less physically demanding roles, such as contributing to quality improvement projects.

By providing a break from the physical demands of front-line nursing for nurses age 55 and over, this initiative aims to retain their expertise, leadership and mentorship – instead of losing them to retirement.

“Late career nurses are clinical experts who are well respected by their peers,” said Ashley Graat, who is organizing this year’s initiative. “They are role models and mentors who contribute to the quality of patient care the future generations of nurses will provide.”

This initiative, which is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, has previously focused on areas such as bedside transfer of accountability and the revision of patient education tools.

“This year we’re doing something a little different,” said Graat. Instead of focusing on a specific quality initiative for the hospital, late career nurses will participate in a series of professional development workshops. They will refine and acquire new practical skills that can be applied to their local areas to promote a healthy work environment and support quality patient care.

The workshops will include topics such as supporting healthy team dynamics, managing conflict, having difficult conversations and mentorship.

“We know that a healthy work environment contributes to a better patient experience,” said Heather Campbell, director of nursing practice and education. “Patients are already stressed when they’re in the hospital. It’s our responsibility to provide an environment that supports healthy team dynamics – a team that includes patients and families.”

Turzanski encourages other late career nurses to take advantage of the program.

“It’s an opportunity to think outside your immediate box of practice,” she said. “And by giving nurses a break from some of the physical work, it helps retain senior staff to mentor younger staff.”

St. Michael’s has participated in the Late Career Nurse Initiative every year since it was created in 2005. To date, approximately 260 late career nurses have participated.

Supporting a healthy work environment contributed to St. Michael’s recent designation as an RNAO Best Practice Spotlight Organization. This year’s Late Career Nurse Initiative will continue to build on the healthy work environment best practice guidelines.

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.