The Registered Nurses' Council empowers SickKids nurses to be changemakers
Meet the self-appointed “rebels” of nursing at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). Katherine Andrews and Gina Driedger are Co-chairs for the Registered Nurses’ Council (RNC), and they are on a mission to use their platform to spark change and fight for what is important for SickKids nurses.
Their goal is to effect change for nurses — even when it’s uncomfortable. “We do what we need to do to put forward our thoughts and visions, test boundaries and push back, advocate and stay current,” Driedger says.
The RNC was started in 1988 as what was then known as the General Duty Nurses' Group, where nurses volunteered their time to take nursing beyond the bedside.
Today, it is a collective of more than 30 registered nurses elected to represent most areas throughout the hospital. And the role is paid, protected time. Representatives are liaisons between the floor and the council for hospital events, changes and information and act as stakeholders for decisions related to nursing. They help share the nursing perspective to key stakeholders such as managers, directors, executives and other leaders across SickKids.
Reconnecting nurses with their why
The goal of the RNC is to empower nurses to be changemakers and to bring the joy back into the profession that so many go into because they are following their passion. “Nursing is a calling for people,” Andrews says. “Our goal is to reconnect them with their why.”
Driedger and Andrews know how easy it can be for nurses to lose sight of the reason they became nurses when shifts become a routine and they start to feel burnt out. Reflecting on her first couple years as a SickKids nurse, Driedger recalls the excitement she felt walking through the doors each shift. “I got goosebumps walking in every day. I would go home thinking, ‘look at the change I made,’” she says. “You get numb to it — the wonder. We really are changing lives.”
Today, as RNC co-chairs, she and Andrews look for solutions to return that sense of wonder to nurses across the hospital.
Changemakers and leaders
The RNC meets monthly to discuss key topics around the hospital and hear from guest speakers. Chief of Nursing Practice Judy Van Clieaf and Vice-President of Clinical Operations and Patient and Family Experience Karen Kinnear make regular appearances at these meetings. Driedger and Andrews say joining the RNC as a representative not only encourages nurses to find their own leadership style, but helps them become comfortable and familiar with SickKids leaders. This opportunity allows nurses to get to know leaders such as Van Clieaf and Kinnear on a more personal level.
A different lens
Joining the RNC offers nurses a chance to see SickKids from a different perspective. “As a nurse, you don’t always see how your particular unit affects other units,” says Andrews. “It gives you a bigger picture to understand the hospital from an organizational lens.”
The RNC helps nurses translate their existing skills to become changemakers, leaders and respected stakeholders.
“Join the RNC because it gives you an incredible opportunity to network, advance your career and experience changemaking in a way you never would have before,” says Driedger. “You’re not just sitting back and complaining about the way things are run. You can actually do something about it and have a voice.”
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