More than 9,000 Manitobans, in communities located across our vast province, rely upon the care and support of the hundreds of highly skilled nurses who work within the Manitoba Renal Program.
Lindy Koutecky is as a Licensed Practical Nurse working in Swan River, Manitoba. A new mom, Koutecky was attracted to the opportunity that the Manitoba Nephrology Nursing Course (MNNC) gave to expand her specialized skills and provide a much-needed service in her home community without having to leave her home and family to participate in the required training. The MNNC, which is offered remotely, allowed her to complete the training program through a combination of online training and hands-on clinical practice in the Swan River dialysis unit, where she would work upon completion.
“Being able to complete the first part of the course virtually allowed me to expand my skills and knowledge without having to leave my young family for weeks, a requirement that would have made me much less likely to pursue this opportunity,” said Koutecky. “As an added bonus, the hands-on clinical practice was in the dialysis unit in Swan River, which allowed me to develop my skills close to home and to begin developing relationships with experienced staff already working in the unit.”
The combined nine-week MNNC program (an initial six weeks being a combination of virtual theory presentations and hands-on clinical practice in the hemodialysis unit followed by three weeks of preceptorship with an experienced hemodialysis nurse) is designed to allow for successful nurses to transition into the role of independent clinical practice as a new hemodialysis nurse.
“It was great to be able to practice my skills on the dialysis unit where I would be working and to begin to build good relationships with our patients and their families, who we see regularly.”
For Koutecky, it also allowed for her to train and learn alongside nurse mentors who would soon be her colleagues, including Angie Marzolf, an LPN in Swan River and clinical lead for the course. In this role, Marzolf has helped to train two nurses in Swan River for work in the dialysis unit, work that Marzolf herself thoroughly enjoys.
“I get to know my patients very well on a personal level and relate to their history,” said Marzolf. “These relationships are helpful when you’re trying to educate them or to connect with them. I like being on a specialized unit because you can do your job well.”
Marzolf is an advocate for nurses who may wish to expand their skills to consider renal nursing.
“Nursing has such a broad range of skills so when you go into a specified area, you can hone your skills,” said Marzolf. “This program gives nurses the opportunity to participate in this training without having to uproot their lives and it has the added benefit of exposing nurses to the work environment and people where they will actually be working. When they finish their training, these nurses are equipped to work in the unit and to function very well.”
The success of the Manitoba Nephrology Nursing Course is playing out in rural and remote communities across Manitoba as nurses looking to expand their skills train and learn alongside experienced renal nurses. It’s a story of mentorship and opportunity but also one that supports access to specialized patient care closer to home for many Manitobans with chronic kidney disease.
For Therese Tessier, it’s a story that has been at the centre of her work as a renal Registered Nurse for 17 years. Tessier works at Selkirk Regional Health Centre, where she is the clinical lead for the virtual site-led MNNC program, a role that allows her to travel to many communities to train nurses.
“The program allows new renal nurses to build connections not only with their team but also with their patients, it keeps them in their community and allows them to get to know their unit and develop strong relationships,” said Tessier. “In smaller communities, those teams are really important and they learn to rely upon each other for support. The course has been a good experience for both the nurses who I visit in their home site and for me going to their community.”
One of the Tessier’s future success stories is LPN Edilyn Ann Campos who is participating in the MNCC from Dauphin. Campos enrolled in the course to expand her experience and knowledge.
“By doing the clinical part of the course remotely in the local centre to which I will work, it gives me the advantage to become familiar faster with the hemodialysis routine and patients,” said Campos. “I believe earlier integration with the facility and staff promotes a healthy working environment and most importantly helps me gain a patient's trust.”
Campos is now looking forward to her future opportunities in renal nursing after completing her training. “Nephrology nursing is one of the specialty areas of nursing and indeed adds to career growth. It is technical and wholistic. It gives us a chance to work closely with patients and our teams.”
Since the MNNC training began to be offered remotely in August 2020, 12 nurses from communities across Manitoba have completed the training and are working to support patient care in Dauphin, Swan River, Ashern, Pine Falls and at Boundary Trails Health Centre.