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A champion in compassionate care

Corrina Werbecky, a nurse from BC Cancer - Prince George, won the inaugural Patient Care Champion award last fall.
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​​The BC Cancer Excellence Awards give us an opportunity to shine a light on some of the inspiring people and teams at BC Cancer. Nominations will be accepted from June 3 to August 16, 2019. During this nomination period for the second annual BC Cancer Excellence Awards, we’re taking an occasional look at one of 2018’s winners. Go to bccancer.bc.ca/awards for more information and to submit a nomination today.

Corrina Werbecky, a nurse from BC Cancer - Prince George won the inaugural Patient Care Champion award last fall. The criteria for the Patient Care Champion states that “this person helps improve patients’ experience, quality of life, quality of care and/or knowledge of the cancer system – either directly or indirectly. They show compassion, ingenuity and leadership, and act as a role model for others.”

Corrina’s nominator last summer wrote, “Corrina is an excellent nurse and a faithful patient care advocate. She is one of the most compassionate, caring people I know. She goes above and beyond, so patients and their families have all the support they need. They are lucky to have her on their side, and we are fortunate to work with her.”

Corrina shares her thoughts on the meaning of the award and her work:

You were the first-ever winner of the Patient Care Champion award. What has that honour meant to you?

It was such an honour to be nominated for this award by the amazing people I work with every day for a job I love to do. I work with such an amazing multidisciplinary team and together we make a difference. To be recognized by my peers is the ultimate prize. It confirms that I chose the right profession and my peers respect my nursing practice. I am so blessed.

When you accepted your award at last November’s BC Cancer Summit (this year our winners will be celebrated at the BC Cancer Summit dinner on Nov. 22), you spoke passionately about patient-centred care. And we know you feel really strongly about treating the whole patient. Tell me more about that as a priority. 

As an oncology nurse we cannot just treat the cancer, we need to look at each patient individually and how cancer affects them physically, emotionally, spiritually and socially. 

I think of a young wife and mother who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Physically: She may be dealing with healing her mastectomy scar, side effects of treatment – radiation, chemotherapy or both.

Emotionally: altered body image, how she will manage telling her children, fear of death, loss of control, depression.

Spiritually: loss of faith, conflicts between religious or spiritual beliefs and cancer treatments, as well as coping with illness.

Socially: a strain on her relationships with friends and family. Some may become more distant, some closer. Decreased energy. She may isolate herself.

If we care for the needs of a patient, we treat the whole person, and understand a person’s life story. When we provide patient-centred care we give our patients autonomy, dignity and respect.

We received lots of nominations in 2018 for nurses, and they were often referred to as “compassionate” and “caring.” What is it about nursing, or people who become nurses, that leads to those descriptions?

Nursing to me is about the desire to fix people’s suffering using care and compassion. Compassion is not only about good basic care, like giving meds, relieving pain, and toileting, it’s showing empathy, respect, listening, and offering the same care you would wish for your loved ones. Compassion is shown not only by action but by words. Patients believe a good nurse shows compassion by having a true interest in you, by developing a relationship. Simple touch during one-on-one conversations puts patients at ease. Care and compassion, words often used to describe nurses, are an innate trait but they can also be taught. 

Nursing is complicated work and ever-evolving. What do you do to get better at your job?

Yes, nursing is ever-evolving. I always look for opportunities to increase my knowledge by attending the lunch and learn sessions here at work, where we have different disciplines presenting on different topics. Or attending oncology conferences, such as last year’s BC Cancer Summit. We have a great nurse educator, Megan Crosby, who helps us be on top of our game. I like to learn new things, so I am always googling how I can better my practice. And taking courses as they become available. 

As BC Cancer continues to evolve and improve patient-centred care, do you have any advice for the organization – or thoughts on what everyone can do to contribute?

BC Cancer is truly listening to what our patients want and promoting patient-centred care as its top priority. I am blessed to work for an organization that truly listens to its employees – and the patients we care for.

For more information on the BC Cancer Excellence Awards, go to bccancer.bc.ca/awards.
 
 
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