When the hospital’s ‘safety net’ needs saving: Why you should consider joining the Outreach Team

When the hospital’s ‘safety net’ needs saving: Why you should consider joining the Outreach Team


By: Irene Andress, VP, Patient Experience, Health Professions and Chief Nursing Executive

“There will be no outreach nurse tonight.”

It’s a message repeatedly hitting email inboxes during the last few months. But what does it really mean and should we care?

In this episode of Dispatches from the Frontlines, I profile the role of the Outreach Team, specifically the role of the Outreach Nurse.

Shurnet Clarke, who has worked in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) since 2000 and on the Outreach team for the past five years, describes the most rewarding part of the role as “the challenge” – every day is different.

As members of the critical care outreach team, outreach nurses are a group of diverse, highly skilled and experienced nurses’ on-hand to provide support and advice to all levels of staff that are unsure about the right treatment for a patient. These nurses respond to patients who are deteriorating or have come out of the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital. The purpose of the role is to prevent acutely ill patients from requiring admission to critical care.

In Shurnet’s role as an outreach nurse, she takes action by making tough decisions and executing on a patient care plan, offering quality solutions, clearly communicating with staff and physicians on the unit to orchestrate continuity and seamless care, and bringing valuable critical care expertise and skills to the bedside.

Outreach nurses take pride in the trust and relationships they are able to build with their colleagues and providers on the units – and the independence the role offers in being flexible and mobile across all hospital units.

The Outreach Team is every team’s extended support system: They prevent critical care admissions when possible, facilitate timely critical care admission when appropriate, empower their colleagues by sharing ward-based critical care skills and make the best use of critical care resources through effective clinical decision-making.

This team is the safety net of the organization, stepping up for their colleagues when they need it most – now it’s time to step up with them as they look for their newest team member.

If you are interested in becoming an outreach nurse and have a critical care background, please contact Marilyn Lee, Manager, Intensive Care Unit & Co-lead, Outreach Team, at Marilyn.Lee@tehn.ca or 469-6580 ext. 2759.