CAP Innovation Fellowships help UHN provide better care

Sharon Munawa, registered nurse on the Combined Surgical Unit (CSU) at Toronto Western Hospital. (Photo: Sharon Munawa)

Frontline health care professionals who deliver care to patients know best how to improve that care

This is the philosophy behind the Collaborative Academic Practice (CAP) Innovation Fellowship Program at UHN. Through this initiative, allied health professionals, including nurses, are empowered to directly impact and improve the standard of care patients at UHN receive while building their leadership capacity.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, CAP Innovation Fellows receive protected time away from their roles to conduct quality improvement projects aimed at providing patients with evidence-based, high-quality and safe care. Through dedicated education sessions, fellows learn the leadership and research skills needed for success.

Improving patient safety and quality of care after surgery

Sharon Munawa is a registered nurse on the Combined Surgical Unit (CSU) at Toronto Western Hospital. After completing a master’s of science in nursing at York University, she was looking for a way to use her new skills to provide a better experience for her patients.

She noticed inconsistencies in the information she received over the phone when patients were handed over to the CSU from the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). With no standardized procedure in place, there was a risk of communication breakdown, jeopardizing patient safety during the care transition and the subsequent quality of care patients receive.

“When complete information is communicated, patients will experience a seamless transition during this transfer between the two departments,” explains Sharon. “For example, patients can experience better pain management if all the information regarding previous pain management is transferred from one clinical area to the next nursing unit.”

The CAP Innovation Fellowship Program would provide Sharon with the skills and time needed to understand this problem and develop a potential solution. In 2019, she was awarded the Doug Thompson CAP Innovation Fellowship to pursue this work.

For this quality improvement project, Sharon created a formal-evidence-based tool that could guide PACU and CSU nurses on the information that must be shared during the telephone handover of patients. She wanted to make sure there was buy-in from both units and that the tool would improve information sharing and staff satisfaction during patient handovers.

This process was not without its challenges and required close collaboration between the PACU and CSU. Thankfully, Sharon had the support of the CAP Innovation Fellowship faculty and a new set of leadership skills to guide her.

“I am proud of my confidence and resilience to facilitate some difficult conversations around changing practice and effectively communicating my change idea while also respecting and accepting that health care systems are naturally resistant to change,” shares Sharon.

The CAP Innovation Fellowship Program gave Sharon a unique opportunity to step outside her usual role, engage with patients and colleagues and bring about vital change within her unit.

“I have developed the knowledge and confidence to successfully execute a quality improvement project using various strategies such as conducting needs assessments, collaborating with frontline staff and connecting with stakeholders, to name a few,” describes Sharon.

Sharon is thankful to the donors who made this experience possible.

“I feel very privileged and blessed to have such an amazing opportunity to combine my passion to be a change agent in the frontline delivery of care to patients and my other passion to be a role model/mentor to my colleagues.” CAP Innovation Fellowships at UHN are made possible through the generosity of donors. For more information on how you can help, please contact Alexandra Celebre.

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