Kezia Varughese, a registered nurse, was thrilled to get the call that she was accepted into the Perioperative Nurse Fellowship Program at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH), especially given her interest in learning more about working in an operating room.
Kezia felt a strong connection with the OR when she had the opportunity to shadow a nurse during surgery at nursing school. The patient expressed to Kezia that she was anxious about the procedure, even though her surgery was low risk. She tried to comfort the patient by talking about good memories and laughing about stories of her children. “She told me how she hadn’t laughed like this in a very long time, and how grateful she was that I was there for her during this vulnerable time,” says Kezia.
That was the moment Kezia realized how it takes a special kind of person and team to be with those who are admitted for surgery. She knew this was a great opportunity to expand her knowledge and nursing skills into the operating room.
The Perioperative Nursing Fellowship
Kezia began the fellowship program during the COVID pandemic. She was told by the educators how the fellowship was conducted before COVID which typically included lectures one day and the following day would be a “skills” day in the hospital. The skills day is where fellows simulate what they learned the previous day during their lectures.
Then due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an entirely different approach to the program had to be taken—an approach that required a setting outside of the hospital. This took some creative thinking and teamwork to simulate real-life patient care scenarios using a makeshift operating room.
“Despite all the stress and hardships COVID-19 created, our educators exemplified the true meaning of dedication, resilience, and perseverance,” says Kezia. “The constant desire to serve as a resource and attend to everyone’s needs, especially in such a troubling time, is one of the main factors that helped me feel comfortable in a not-so comfortable time.”
Support from Leadership
The support and collaboration among the leadership team and other team members during the program was extraordinary. Not only were the nurse educators welcoming, but they encouraged the team to communicate freely and offer feedback when needed. Most of Kezia’s trainings was conducted with Microsoft Teams and various in-person simulation days that included socially distanced groups of four who collaborated in a makeshift operating room. Despite the non-traditional approach, Kezia explained that the COVID pandemic did not affect their ability to be well prepared.
In fact, Kezia gained insight as to what it’s like to work in a fast-paced environment, develop critical thinking skills, organizational and interpersonal skills, and how to work with a team to deliver exceptional patient care. The most important concept Kezia learned was how to fully understand and provide the upmost quality of care for her patient, while ensuring the patient’s safety. “The compassion and advocacy my educators demonstrated for us illustrated the care that their patients receive. This was the most eye-opening and inspiring aspect of the Perioperative Fellowship,” Kezia says.
“An OR nursing career is one of the most rewarding careers,” says Kezia. She encourages new graduates and nurses to participate in the fellowship. “It allows one to develop the professional nursing skills that textbooks and nursing school could never teach.”
No matter what our team members are facing, their priority is to deliver compassionate care for our patients. Kezia and her team at NSUH exemplify Northwell’s value of Truly Innovative!
Are you Made for an opportunity like this?
The next step in your career is up to you! To learn more about being a part of our fellowship programs, click here.