Affectionately known as a “Mother Hen” to the nurses she guides and mentors, Clinical Practice Leader Leslie Murphy has won the respect and admiration of her peers. She models excellence in practice in maternity and perinatal nursing at the University Hospital of Northern BC (UHNBC) in Prince George, accomplished in a high-pressure environment of rural nursing care.
As in many nursing settings, one of the biggest challenges on UHNBC’s maternity unit is staff turnover, but Leslie has been a pillar of stability. “Five seasoned nurses retired this past year and new graduates and novice nurses are joining the staff,” notes Executive Lead of Northern Health’s Perinatal Program Rose Perrin. “Leslie is a steadying force. She lets nurses know what to expect and what is expected of them. She sets the bar high and leads by example in patient care every day.”
Leslie is well-known as an extraordinary clinician and educator. In particular, Leslie is a respected resource for smaller rural birthing facilities in northern BC. “She is accountable to make sure new nurses are practising to the highest standards and takes a special interest in supporting new hires, addressing their learning needs,” says Maternal Child Services Manager Belinda Maidment. “Staff come to her with their concerns and know she has their best interests at heart.”
“Leslie really opened my eyes to the rural nursing environment, where you might not have all of the resources you would have in a larger centre, with no NICU or obstetrician,” says nurse Ashley van der Meulen. “She taught me how to work with what we have and how to make good decisions for patient care.”
In the past, UHNBC nurses sometimes missed out on meetings and new information that could help them on the wards, but thanks to Leslie, that’s no longer the case. “In her role as unit leader, Leslie has improved communication by sending staff updates, recognizing successes, highlighting challenges and providing new information about practice changes,” Perrin says.
Leslie’s nursing skills and talent for organization have helped her hospital deal with frequent overcapacity. “Leslie works collaboratively with the other units in the hospital to ensure that safe patient care is being provided for all patients,” Maidment says. “She communicates with other leaders, decongesting the emergency room and accommodating non-obstetrical patients in the Maternity Unit.” If hospital staff are overwhelmed on a Sunday morning at 6 a.m., she will come in to support them and work on the unit.
In addition to her front line nursing work, Leslie teaches perinatal nursing at UNBC and has taught basic perinatal nursing courses as well. She provides a unique experience for her students as an instructor and mentor. As a nurse who completed her degree after working on the wards for 15 years, with a wealth of experience in rural nursing, she models a commitment to lifelong learning. She continues to update her knowledge and share with others at conferences and workshops throughout the region; she is also involved with her local Heart and Stroke Foundation and volunteered as a prenatal instructor for many years.
Thanks to nurses like Leslie, smaller communities in northern BC can showcase best practices for maternal patients, giving them and their families a chance for a brighter, healthier future.