Posted: April 13, 2017

Flexibility is a key attribute that registered nurse Anna Denomey makes good use of at GRH.

Given her chosen role in the hospital’s float pool, this quality is very welcome as she takes on different care needs throughout the hospital.

Anna is a Jill of all nursing trades. Float pool staff members provide support in different units at GRH as needs arise.

Anna Denomey

Anna wants to make a difference in whatever capacity she’s serving. She works hard to keep her specialized skills up to date, and to discover what makes each unit work well.

Her experience across the hospital has also helped her to better understand her fellow care providers’ unique roles and challenges.

Why did you become a nurse?

I became a nurse after doing a few others things in life after high school (a sociology degree, a PSW certificate) which I wasn't satisfied with.

I was interested in science, especially biology, and enjoyed working with people more than machines, so nursing was a draw.

I had spent some summers during high school volunteering at a nursing home where my mom worked, and really thrived while interacting with the residents and learning about their health issues. Wanting to make a positive difference was another motivation.

How did you start at Grand River Hospital?

I got a new grad position on the inpatient surgical unit in 2008, when my partner and I moved back to KW where we had met six years prior. We loved living in this area and compared to our previous life in Toronto, were actually able to afford it!

GRH seemed like the perfect fit for me, because it's a big enough hospital that I knew there would be enough variety, but it still has a friendly "you're more than just a number" atmosphere.

After a few moves away and back from the area and GRH, and a maternity leave, I settled into the float pool position in 2011.

In the float pool, no two days are alike. What’s attracted you to that kind of nursing rather than staying in a particular unit?

Maybe it's because I don't like set routines! I enjoy getting different spontaneous assignments each week.

For example, in one month, I could be assigned to take a patient to another hospital on an ambulance run, take care of dying patients, open up overflow beds in the emergency department, maximize the function of a person with dementia or another chronic illness, be an extra set of hands on an unfamiliar unit like the chemo suite when it is working short, help someone recover from surgery or after a stroke, and do a constant care assignment.

I like to think of myself as flexible and adaptable, so the variety keeps things interesting and lets me see how other units work.

How do you build relationships when you may be moving between different units?

Floating around has really opened my eyes to the challenges that are universal in every unit.

The great majority of staff members come to work wanting to do their best within common constraints and realities. It's easy to get annoyed at another unit for getting something wrong, but I really see how every unit is busy and every staff member has a valid reason for the way they do things. This realization makes me more empathetic to everyone's struggles, and my teammates respond to that.

I've been floating for almost six years, so I've been able to make friends or at least acquaintances on every unit, because of the time spent. A goofy sense of humor helps as well. :) 

What do you enjoy about your work?

I like the variety of float pool assignments, and being able to apply knowledge from one unit to the next, as each unit has different cultures and practices.

On every unit, there's an opportunity to engage with patients in a meaningful way, with simple things like a warm blanket, a joke to lighten the mood, or finding something in common. I also like the feeling of accomplishment and competence I get when I do a task well.

What keeps you challenged during it?

Developing enough skill and knowledge to be competent in each specialized area is a challenge! I try to stay current with updates and newsletters from each unit I work in, since policies, technologies, and best practices are always changing.

I enjoy the challenge of always learning something new. Of course, there are the usual challenges that everyone in the health care field experiences, such as doing our best with finite resources, and experiencing vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue from witnessing human suffering.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I heart GRH! :)

Anna Denomey And Caitlin
Oncology RN Caitlin and Anna discuss a case in GRH's inpatient oncology unit.

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