For the first time in the history of the Montreal Children’s Hospital, former patients who are now nurses held the floor as speakers at the surgical grand rounds.
Lauren Ravazzano and Jessica Orsini, with 11 years of nursing experience between them, conducted a seminar on the importance of patient and family-centered care through shared and lived experiences.
“It’s important because the grand rounds exercise are usually very academic. We are really trying to change the culture to make sure that we also talk about the things that matter the most,” said Dr. Sherif Emil, director of the Harvey E. Beardmore Division of Pediatric Surgery at The Children’s.
Grand rounds are presentations meant to help surgeons keep up to date on evolving clinical care and research.
Usually, surgeons present the latest in surgical knowledge and procedures to an audience of other medical professionals.
Both Orsini and Ravazzano say they are honoured to tell their stories to help shed light on improving patient care.
“It was nice to share the story with other nurses and other doctors who see the side of what it was like to be a patient and the transition into becoming a health-care professional,” Orsini said.
Orsini was born 27 weeks premature and later had to go through a number of surgeries at a young age with her two birth defects, a ruptured omphalocele (in which the intestines, liver or other organs are outside the belly) and tracheoesophageal fistula (a connection between the trachea and esophagus).
Ravazzano was born with a gastroesophageal duplication cyst (a malformation in the gastrointestinal tract) and also spent a significant time in and out of the hospital in her youth
Both are now practising pediatric nurses at the same hospital that treated them during their childhood.
They say it’s the kind of care they received that they hope to instill in their work.
The prominent message that was presented to the room of physicians by both speakers was that communication and family are key.
Even if the doctor’s time is limited, quick, concise, open dialogues with patients can provide security, Orsini said.
“Honest and caring words, even if you can only provide five minutes. The communication that medical staff give in those five minutes is sublime. It gives families what they need and it’s comforting,” Orsini said.
Ravazzano spoke on her personal experiences with physicians and how thoughtful gestures such as receiving a soccer magazine from one of her doctors meant more to her at the time than they knew.
“These little things that make the experience no longer a sad experience but monumental and made me want to enter the health field,” Ravazzano said.
After the success of the seminar, going forward, Emil said grand rounds at the MUHC will have speakers such as patients to help bring new voices to the stage.
“It’s looking at the whole picture. It’s the family-centred approach we all need to improve and we want to be honest and open and I think that is what this exercise is all about,” Emil said.