Holland Bloorview offers mentorship opportunities for nurses through Ontario’s Clinical Scholar Program
Recognizing the vital role nurses play in the health care system, Ontario’s Clinical Scholar Program (CSP) was created to address the increased need for point-of-care nursing mentorship, especially in the wake of the nursing retention challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Holland Bloorview introduced the CSP for nursing in September 2023. The program was expanded at the hospital to include other key health disciplines this past November through the Make Kids Count funding, including occupational therapy and physiotherapy. This initiative aligns well with who we are as an academic health science centre, along with our commitment to inspiring and supporting the next generation of health care professionals.
The CSP was introduced by the Ministry of Health in June 2023 as part of the province’s plan to grow its health care workforce. It provides opportunities for an experienced point-of-care nurse to mentor and support newly graduated nurses, internationally educated nurses and nurses wanting to upskill. The Ministry encourages participation in the program for hospitals and health care leaders with the aim of retaining experienced nurses while keeping new nurses in the workforce.
When asked about why she chose to become a clinical scholar, Laura Ewing, a registered nurse and clinical instructor for nursing students, reflects on her longstanding interest in a mentorship role. Working at Holland Bloorview for nearly eight years, this interest is rooted in her passion for encouraging growth in others.
“What I love most about being a clinical scholar is the opportunity to establish strong connections with my mentees and actively contribute to their professional growth,” says Laura. “Being able to share my knowledge and experience brings me joy, and it’s rewarding to witness their development, both in terms of clinical skills and confidence.”
This is particularly important in the field of childhood disability, as formal education programs may not always provide nurses with the necessary exposure and skills required to meet the evolving and complex medical, developmental, behavioural and psychosocial needs of the clients and families we serve. Through programs such as the CSP, nurses will gain the specialized skills, knowledge and confidence required to meet the needs of children and youth with disabilities and developmental differences within Holland Bloorview and the community more broadly.
“Through the Clinical Scholar Program and the mentorship that Laura is providing to support her colleagues, it is enabling new nursing staff to thrive in their positions,” said Irene Andress, vice president, programs & services and chief nursing executive. “This helps fuel our hospital’s strategic goals of fostering a healthy team and providing care that’s transformed by education. New nursing staff are empowered with a strong sense of purpose and belonging, and the bedside coaching supports the consolidation of skills and continuous learning.”
In Laura’s work to raise awareness and understanding about her role as clinical scholar, she recognizes the program’s potential to enhance the quality, safety and satisfaction of the clients we care for at Holland Bloorview. She believes maximizing the program’s impact requires consistent support and guidance in working to promote evidence-based practices, fostering meaningful communication and collaboration within the health care team, as well as supporting the ongoing development of knowledge, skills and judgement of nurses being mentored in the program.