On Richmond Hospital’s high-pressure, High Acuity ward, Clinical Nurse Educator Melanie Rydings is known for the calm, engaging way that she teaches in a fast-paced health care environment. Other nurses pay attention when Rydings talks; as one of Vancouver Coastal Health’s most accomplished front-line instructors, she delivers lessons that health care practitioners want to know.
“Melanie readily engages very busy nurses and interdisciplinary team members ,” says VCH Director of Professional Practice Monica Redekopp. “She doesn’t just impart information, but makes great effort to follow up with nurses and others to evaluate their learning. She’s there to provide ongoing support so they become competent and confident with their new clinical skills.”
Knowing that her fellow nurses may not have time to learn in the classroom, she often takes the lead in putting together policies, documentation tools and standard protocols to help them learn on the job, as when she created a ‘High Alert Working Group’; the group has helped review and eliminate medication administration errors. She implemented new guidelines for preventing falls, catheter-associated urinary tract infections and heart failure and also developed new assessment tools for delirium assessment. When she saw that there was no diabetes educator within the Acute Care ward at Richmond Hospital, she took the initiative to teach both nurses and other educators about related evidence-based standards. All of these initiatives have ultimately improved patient outcomes.
Melanie aims to make learning fun and is never one to shy away from cutting-edge teaching techniques. When new glucometers were being rolled out through her hospital, she ordered ‘fake blood’ to get ‘readings’ on the new devices, helping nurses walk through the process of using the equipment in a realistic manner.
Transitioning from general nursing care to surgery and related specialties early on in her career, Melanie found her calling early on. “Melanie always begins her sessions by putting nurses at ease right away, setting out the plan for the session, getting the nurses to introduce themselves and assessing learning needs,” says Clinical Nurse Educator Silvia Nobrega. “If there are nurses in the class who are already familiar with a topic, she has them help lead and share their knowledge.”
Outside her clinical instruction role, Melanie acts as a mentor and preceptor for students and advising front-line registered nurses working towards their nursing degrees. She also plans many professional development days, arranging these events, signing up guest speakers, arranging materials and more.
Other nurses appreciate that Melanie always goes above and beyond the formal requirements of her position. When her hospital recently recruited many new nurses with widely varying degrees of nursing experience, Melanie was able to make everyone feel supported and welcomed at the unit. “She arranged their orientation schedules, facilitated checkins, linked them with additional education and developed customized learning plans,” recalls 2South Patient Care Coordinator Lindsay McArthur. “Meanwhile, she’s never too busy to coach a complex dressing change or speak to a family member about the care of their loved one.”
Melanie continues to show passion for her work and great care and compassion for patients and her fellow nurses. Embodying what nursing is all about, she is a fine example for nurses to emulate and look up to.