Highlighting GNAO Nurses —
We are back this month with our segment:
Geriatric Nursing Never Gets Old… Highlighting Nurses in Gerontology!
This new segment highlights nurses working in the field of gerontology and introduces you to their world! We invite you to read up on our nurses and to engage in discussion with them via the Student Discussion Forum, Social Media (facebook or twitter) or directly through the contact information that they provide.
This month, we are happy to highlight and celebrate Jennifer Reguindin.
Jennifer is an interprofessional educator for the Baycrest Centre for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care and is certified in healthcare simulation and gerontological nursing. Previously, she was also an advanced practice leader/nurse, and served as a subject matter expert for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Long-Term Care Home Common Assessment Project.
An experienced staff nurse in the areas of intensive care, cardiac, and medical-surgical, her roles included nursing management and education for various Community Care Access Centres and Primary Health Care projects provincially. Jennifer received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Ryerson University in 2002. While completing her Master of Science in Nursing degree from York University, she also served as one of their clinical course directors.
Please describe to us your current role and what it is that you do in gerontology.
I’m an interprofessional educator at Baycrest. I’m part of a Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) funded provincial project, Centre for Learning Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care (CLRI). I create education sessions, apps, books, resources that support the frail elderly, for example, emergency prevention and coordinating care in responsive behaviours. I’m also able to create and trial new activities using simulation and gaming to engage the registered and unregulated healthcare workers and students I work with in Ontario long-term care homes. Evaluation of all these resources and activities is a big part of what I do as well and ensuring that feedback that I received is incorporated to make things better for the learners and for the clients in long-term care (LTC). As you can see I work not just with nurses but also with allied health, personal support workers, and the students of these respective groups to support the population of this sector.
I’m also a coronary intensive care nurse and I do work with a lot of seniors who require critical care support for their cardiac issues.
Why did you decide to pursue gerontological nursing?
In adult healthcare, it is difficult to get away from gerontological nursing. I have experience in community, mental health, acute care, complex continuing care, and long term care. I have taught provincially and have had an international audience as well. Gerontological nursing knowledge and skill is very much needed in all these sectors. In Canada and around the world, the baby boomers are aging. They have been integral in changing policies over the last several decades and they continue to redefine what is necessary. My career wasn’t a pursuit of gerontological nursing as it is an increased awareness of reality and where I needed to be to grow as a professional. I wanted to do more and this is where I need to be.
As soon as I had this realization that there was this movement towards change in this sector, I knew I had to be a part of it. The best part of being an educator in this specialty is that I get to see an increase in quality of life of clients in LTC. Imagine seeing an increase in engagement of a client with dementia who has not spoken or does not usually open their eyes because I had the opportunity to teach the techniques to staff and students. Imagine increasing the confidence of nurses and PSWs to take leadership when a client is getting sick and preventing transfers to emergency, which is probably one of the worst things we can do for our frail elderly. It’s rewarding but there’s still a lot of work to do to ensure equity in this sector.
Many of us have been mentored or inspired by another nurse at some point in our nursing journey. Is there one person in particular who has helped you along the way in becoming a gerontological nurse?
As a profession, nurses are inspirational. I’ve had the opportunity to see them in many sectors and their knowledge, compassion, and leadership in service of others is amazing. The work of Rosemarie Rizzo Parse and the language that she has brought in to the nursing profession has specifically changed my cognitive framework as a nurse. Through her work, I was able to apply, integrate, and synthesize nursing care very differently than when I started out as a nurse. Her humanbecoming theory changed the way I practice, my professional outlook, and the way I teach. This theory reinforces that what I do affects others as a nurse, as a person in respect to my environment. It highlights choice, growth, dichotomies, and unknowns that really speaks to nursing in gerontology and even as a whole.
The language of the humanbecoming theory helped me grasp that being truly present with another (a client, a student, another nurse) allows for creation, changes in perspectives, and growth.
What is one of the most fulfilling aspects of being a gerontological nurse?
In my role, I have the chance to work with many long-term care (LTC) nurses and students. It has a macro impact. With the modules I’ve created and worked that speaks to atypical presentation of the frail elderly & working with responsive behaviours in dementia, I am able to contribute towards outcomes in LTC homes. I utilize an interprofessional education and collaboration framework in all my work to enhance the work of a team and hopefully be a more cohesive unit. I’m able to increase situational awareness and management into this sector. When this is combined with the therapeutic relationship that is unique in a LTC setting, it helps prevent emergency transfers in LTC homes in Ontario. It’s humbling and drives me to be better professionally.
What is one thing you would want to share about gerontological nursing that most people might not otherwise know?
It is complex and working in this field makes you reflective. The landscape is ever-changing and because of this professional growth constant. I work with a lot with the frail elderly. If they do get sick their presentation is atypical in that our textbook knowledge may not be applicable. This may lead to a lot of concerns if a healthcare practitioner is not aware.
Do you have any advice for nurses or students interested in pursuing gerontology as a specialty?
The pursuit of knowledge and the desire to continuously be better as a professional should drive you forward – not just textbook knowledge, but also the client’s story. Constantly remembering that there is a person behind every client is necessary in this line of work. The level of accountability, critical thinking, communication skill, and compassion needed in this specialty is like no other because of the frailty, comorbidities, and complexity of the very sick elderly and their families.
In this profession, self-care is very important.
If anyone is interested in connecting with you further, how can they reach you?
Visit me at Baycrest! Or email me.
If you are a nurse who is working in gerontology and would like to share your story on our page, email Annie
Find the link to the newsletter on the Resources page