RN Spotlight – Holly Morrison

Holly Morrison has been a Registered Nurse for 17 years. She graduated in 1996 from the first BScN program to be offered at UPEI. Out of a class of 36, she was among 17 of those who completed the program that year. The fact that her mother graduated from the first class of the PEI School of Nursing in 1972 fueled her ambition to get through those 4 years and do well. She recalls it being a “tough” time as the nursing degree program was just getting off the ground and there were some growing pains for faculty and staff.

Holly always knew she was suited for practice in Pediatrics. As a teenager, she taught swimming lessons, canoeing and boating with the Red Cross and has always enjoyed teaching and working with children. She worked in various casual po­sitions within Pediatrics up until 1999 when she became per­manent in the Pediatric Nursing Department. 2006 presented an opportunity for a one-year position in Pediatric Oncology which involved working as a Clinical Nurse Educator half the time and the other half in Pediatric Oncology/Ambula­tory Care. In order to help prepare her for this position, Holly took a APHON Chemotherapy/Biotherapy course in Halifax which requires recertification every 2 years. She says there is so much “fear of the unknown” when staff begin to provide chemotherapy and deal with a diagnosis of childhood cancer. This course helps her and other health care professionals in the field to better deal with patient/family fear, and be able to provide safe, effective care to these patients.

In 2010, Holly took a 2nd temporary position as Nurse educator/Oncology nurse which rolled into another position involving Pediatric Oncology/Ambulatory Care. In June of last year she became the Nurse Coordinator for the Pediatric Day Unit. In this position Holly is responsible for things such as coordinating patient care plans, treatments, follow up ap­pointments, and communicating patient information to other treatment centers such as the IWK in Halifax. She is the “go to” person for coordination and must be able to think outside the box and be a critical thinker. She helps develop policies and procedures for care and stays up to date on the newest standards of care. “Health Care and best practice guidelines are always changing. I am constantly collaborating with vari­ous Healthcare providers, families and caregivers to be able to provide the best care we can for the whole family.”

She says working with children is a different type of nursing whereby you are treating the whole extended family – not just the patient. The staff of the QEH Pediatrics department provides a Family-centered care approach to their patients/families and has taken workshops and training specifically to this. Family centered care refers to the planning, implemen­tation and evaluation of healthcare that is based on the mutu­ally beneficial partnerships between healthcare providers, patients and families. This approach recognizes the vital role that families play in their child’s health and wellbeing. “Every person is different which makes providing family centered care more challenging. The approach that may work for one child may not work for another. You have to get creative. We sing songs, play with play dough and just act silly sometimes.”

Holly also meets with a multi-disci­plinary team once a month comprised of Pediatricians, Dieticians, Social Work­ers, Nurses, and Clinical Pharmacists. Multidisci­plinary case conferences are arranged for individual cases when required. They network closely and collaboratively with the IWK and outside centers such as Prince County Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

In addition to her long list of responsibilities, Holly also coordinates and teaches the Pediatric Advanced Life Sup­port (PALS) courses for other Nurses and Physicians. She is a trained and certified CPR instructor who keeps staff up to date in this area. She is also regularly on the lookout for courses to sign up for as well. She goes to Halifax every fall to network with others in the Oncology and Hematology world and become educated on the latest treatments and protocols.

To cope with the demands and challenges of her position, Holly relies on exercise and nutrition to relieve stress and stay healthy. She teaches Women’s Boxing and just recently stepped down as President of Boxing PEI. Several of her colleagues also enjoy her boxing classes and she sees it as a means to burn off stress in a safe way. Holly also trains with a Personal trainer and takes classes at a local gym. “After a busy day at work, I can go to the gym and let off steam and burn some energy. Then I don’t carry that stress with me when I go home to my family. I absolutely need to exercise!” Holly says she likes to set a good example for her Family and co-workers by encouraging fitness and healthy eating. “Even a ten minute walk every day is better than none at all.”

Evidently, it takes a very special individual to be able to work as a Registered Nurse. Working as a Registered Nurse in Pediatric Oncology is no exception. Holly says she is effective and successful at her job not only because she has the education, skills and expertise required to carry out her duties, but also because she tries to put herself in the fam­ily’s shoes. She and her husband, Steve have 2 children – a 9 year-old son, Shane and 7 year-old daughter, Geena.

“I always think ‘how would I like my child to be treated in this situation?’. I try to be firm but always kind, adaptive and creative. One approach does not work for everyone so you just have to think outside of the box, be able to ac­commodate and get things done. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t get emotional sometimes, too. I still cry with parents. Not very often, but it does happen. You can’t go on auto-pilot all the time. The families get to see our com­passion and human side. I try not to let the children see it because they need me to be their shoulder to lean on.”