National Nursing Week Profile: Jane Schouten
What inspired you to become a nurse?
I call myself the “accidental” nurse. Even though this year is my 30th anniversary, nursing was not my first career choice. I started off in computer science but found during my second term I was not happy, and I realized that I wanted to work with people. My Mom was a nurse. I was considering this as a career path when that same summer I was shopping with my Mom and she told me about one of her patients who was dying of cancer. She told me she wanted to buy the woman a teddy bear to make her feel better and she asked me if I thought that was OK. We picked out that teddy bear together. I was not in that room when my Mom gave that woman the teddy bear, but I can imagine how cared for that patient must have felt. My Mom was there when that patient passed away with the teddy bear in her arms. My Mom, a nurse, made a difference in someone’s life. She was someone’s hero for a period of time. Given all the practical reasons for why I was considering a nursing career (still go to university, still be able to do a Masters, have a successful career etc.), I think it was that moment, that realization that I too could be someone’s hero, that solidified my decision. So, I think the question is not what inspired me to become a nurse, but who.
What made you decide to move away from the bedside to procurement?
I have always considered Healthcare a business. A unique business with a unique customer (the patient). My decision to leave the bedside was one of necessity which essentially set me on a path of learning the “business of Healthcare”. The positions I had before working at HealthPRO gave me a grounding and education (by fire in some cases) in procurement. My first “foray” into procurement occurred when I became the manager of Dialysis at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto with the responsibility for setting up the new hemodialysis unit. As the resident hemodialysis expert, I led all aspects of the project including supply logistics. Figuring out what supplies were needed was something I had not done in the past (I just went to a room and got the stuff I needed). I worked closely with purchasing (helping to prepare the RFP), logistics, receiving, the material handlers, suppliers and of course the staff to make sure they had what they needed, when they needed it, and knew where to find it and how to get more if they ran out. The focus was to build a functional department that delivered the best patient care. In subsequent jobs, I was involved in similar activities which expanded my knowledge of “the business” of Healthcare. Getting my MBA helped to hone my business acumen. So, when the HealthPRO job posting came up seeking “a seasoned nurse with clinical and business experience…” I thought “wow!” a job that uses both my clinical and business knowledge. So here I am.
What is the biggest challenge you see facing hospital clinicians?
This is a huge question…. I don’t think it is one challenge, it is many different challenges that represent the changing face of healthcare. Demographics; the drive for short stays and community care; the need to do more with less; the push to save costs; the use of technology and how quickly it is changing; the informed patient who now asks lots of questions and questions what is asked. All these things create an ever-changing environment that clinicians must adapt to quickly and effectively to maintain quality patient care. The biggest challenge, I think, is to be able to see, recognize and understand the changing environment and how it impacts care and how to adapt to the changes to continue to provide quality patient care.
What are the “must haves” to be a nurse?
Compassion, caring, professionalism, respect, fortitude, stamina, negotiation and advocacy skills, and above all, a sense of humour.
Is there a moment or story you’d like to share about your job?
I would like to share a story from my past and one from my current role. I worked for a time in the U.S. for a dialysis clinic in California. I had one patient who was planning on moving back to Alaska, so during his treatments, I would “teach” him about the provinces he would be driving through to get back home. Of course, I would joke and say that there would be a test. He played right along. When I left that job to return home, he came into the unit (it was not his treatment day), gave me a hug, said thank you and handed me a card. It said, “Thank you for your kindness and humour during my treatments”. I made a difference in his life. I got to be his hero for a period of time.
Since joining HealthPRO five years ago, I have seen the value that this company offers and continues to offer. I knew that we were a lean company, but I did not realize until that moment that not only is HealthPRO small, but it is mighty. And while there is company pride, I felt and still feel personally proud to be a part of something that exemplifies one of healthcare challenges “doing more with less”. The savings we provide, and the dollars returned go back to where it counts – patient care. So, while I no longer am at the bedside, I am still making a difference and I still get to be a hero, working at HealthPRO.
Nursing roles are ever-evolving and inline with the theme “#YESThisIsNursing”, what is one thing readers might be surprised to learn is part of your role as a nurse? Examples might include patient advocacy, participating in parliamentary committees, daily challenges, etc.
There are a few: I have written best practice guidelines for nurses; planned and executed a new diagnostic program, was involved in the planning and ongoing clinical involvement for a new hospital, and most recently have participated in a study on clinical engagement.
I am a nurse because…
I get to be a hero everyday.