National Nursing Week Profile: Maria Jones
Maria, can you tell me how you got into nursing?
Frankly, it was something I never thought I’d do. My mom is a nurse, she worked as a psychogeriatric nurse. When I was in school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was good in science and math. I knew I didn’t want to work in an office and I wanted to work with people. When I took a psychology aptitude test, it pointed to working in healthcare. There are seven kids in my family. My mom worked nights so she could come home in the morning, get us up and ready for school – and then she’d be there when we got home from school, give us supper, put us to bed and then go to work. I used to think why would you want to do that? But it gave my mom balance between work and her family and it worked for her.
What is satisfying for you about doing frontline nursing?
I started on a medical-surgical floor at the General Marine Hospital in Owen Sound and then started to specialize in wound care. When you work closely with the patient and get that wound to heal, it is satisfying. There is nothing better than being able to say to the patient, “I hope I don’t have to see you again except at the mall!” Wound care is about the whole picture – physical and mental. You’re looking at all the things that might affect the patient: diet, stress, diabetes, the home environment. They just need to be part of a plan so they can heal.
Is wound care a difficult area to specialize in?
When I started working in Surgical Care, people kept asking what to do about this wound. Wound care is huge, particularly in home care; I would estimate over 50% of clients are wound-care related. The whole emphasis in our system is to get people through their surgery and get them home with the best wound care.
There are lots of different goals in wound care (maintenance, palliative, restorative), but the main goal is to provide patient quality during the treatment of the wound – you really have to think about efficiencies and quality of life.
What is the biggest challenge you face?
There is a change in the way nurses have to deliver care. You look at the whole patient and consider their quality of life, but you also have to balance that with the cost and efficiency of care. Is one dressing going to be more financially efficient than another? (Dressings can be very expensive.) We have to be professionally accountable to your patient and to the healthcare system – it’s not an unlimited resource.
Being a nurse in these economically challenging times must be tough, especially when it comes to choosing products for your patients.
As a member of the HealthPRO Clinical Advisory Committee, we look at new products – which ones are going to do the job and are also financially going to give us the best outcome. HealthPRO is national across all sectors – we’re all sitting at the same table – we have different needs but are looking at the same resources. You have to be able to articulate why a certain product is going to make a difference – you need to be a good advocate. A big part of my job is advocating for the patient and for quality supplies.
How does being part of a national GPO support you in your role as a hospital clinician?
I started working on the HealthPRO Clinical Advisory Committee (CAC) in about 2000 or 2001. At the time it was a very small group and now it’s become much bigger.
You meet so many people from different disciplines at these meetings and it becomes a network for you – you can ask about a product and get advice and information from different perspectives. People come to the group with the same interests, but from a real variety of backgrounds – purchasing, clinicians, nurses – and these are people are from across Canada. I come from rural Ontario and it’s extremely beneficial to hear from people in different parts of the country and how they’re doing things. It’s just a great resource, I have learned and benefitted so much.
Of all the changes happening in the profession, what do you feel most positive about?
I always feel good about the fact that nurses have a huge impact on patient outcomes. It’s not just doing the task, it’s giving people the right information to make informed choices. You help them, you support them, you advocate for them – you know you’re making a difference and people really appreciate and remember that. I still get so much personal satisfaction from nursing.
What do you think is something the public should know about nurses that they often don’t?
Our biggest challenge as nurses is the continuous struggle to deliver quality care while balancing the financial restrictions of the system. We’re being asked to find efficiencies, get patients home faster. There is a big push to self-care and recovery at home – patients come in to the hospital, have their surgery and are sent home to finish their recovery at home, which makes it tougher for patients.
I live in a rural area and many people live on farms and in the country. If they’re on their own, being told to look after themselves at home is very challenging; they often say they don’t feel ready to leave hospital yet, so we link them with services in the community.
What are you looking forward to?
I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’m getting ready to transition to being a grandma (had my first grandchild this week), but I know I will continue to work in healthcare in some way. There are so many opportunities for nurses. My daughter just graduated nursing school – she did a lot of schooling and finally decided to go into nursing, she’s really happy about that. My mom continues to be my inspiration.