For Val Lamb, every moment is a teaching moment – and also a learning moment. The Fort St. John-based nurse has taught and mentored staff in all her roles at Fort St. John (FSJ) Hospital, as staff nurse, supervisor, nurse manager, clinical educator and clinical nurse lead. But she has also carried on with intensive nurse training throughout her career. She doesn’t just help others learn critical clinical skills, she models what it is to be a lifelong learner.
A Critical Care educator who travels throughout British Columbia and across the country to rural and remote areas, Val instructs health care professionals on Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Trauma Nurse Core Course (TNCC) to ensure that patients far from a centralized urban setting get the high-quality care they deserve. The position takes patience, determination and extraordinary communication skills to impart important knowledge to a diverse range of health professionals.
“Val is a strong advocate for continuous learning,” says Viva Swanson, RN. “She is extremely knowledgeable and sets a high standard in nursing. She has committed herself to building frontline nursing capabilities, giving them the appropriate tools to provide patients with a gold standard of care.” Cultivating orientation and continuous learning programs through FSJ Hospital, she has also influenced nursing education policies and procedures.
Monique McLaughlin, an emergency nurse practitioner at Vancouver General Hospital, points out that Val never misses an opportunity to improve her own skills and to pass them on to others. “She is constantly seeking new information, whether it is teaching the Emergency Nurses Pediatric Course, ACLS, PALS, the Course in Advanced Trauma Nursing, the Airway Management Course for Nurses or attending conferences.”
With each health care team Val approaches for training, she has shown her adaptability and insight in identifying gaps in knowledge and skills—and how best to address them. For instance, she has developed evidence-based learning modules for when a new health service is being established, such as telemetry on a medical or surgical unit, says North Peace Health Services Administrator Angela De Smit. When working with new staff, she knows how to best reach them with direct patient care tutoring or classroom instruction.
“It is the informal education that Val provides that has the most powerful influence on staff knowledge and practice—and has helped us as an organization to retain and recruit staff to the more difficult-to-fill positions in Critical Care,” De Smit says. “Following an Anatomy and Physiology Trauma Nurse Core Course lecture that Val gave, one staff nurse commented that Val’s material and presentation made the course instantly relevant and easy to understand.”
Val consistently demonstrates excellence as a professional nurse, in addition to being an extraordinary educator. “She is highly respected and is always respectful to others, skillfully communicating to make others feel valued,” says Joanne Cozac, RN. “Her kindness, words of encouragement and unconditional support create a safe learning environment where people can express themselves freely. She is always smiling, flexible and generous with her time.” An avid learner and compelling educator, she has helped create a climate of continuous improvement for nurses in British Columbia.