Jonathan, RN at MGH.

Jonathan's Career Journey at MGH

Tell us about yourself!

Hi, I’m Jonathan Russell and I’m a Nurse Practitioner (NP), Acute Pain Service at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH). I have been working at MGH for three years now.

What motivated you to join MGH?I had already been working as a bedside nurse for several years at a different hospital prior to coming to MGH. When I finished nurse practitioner school, MGH was growing its NP presence and had an amazing leadership opportunity in a specialty that I was interested in. It was a big decision to leave where I’d worked for so many years, but it was a chance for me to really start from the ground up to build something that will make an impact on patient care in a community that I’m close to, so I went for it.

What types of learning, mentorship or professional development opportunities have you had the opportunity to pursue since joining MGH?

Since I came to MGH, I’ve completed a graduate certificate in my specialty and had lots of opportunity to attend educational days and conferences which help to keep my knowledge and skills current. MGH has a great tuition support program that you can access which is super helpful since taking courses can sometimes be expensive. I’ve also led quality improvement initiatives to help make pain care safer and more effective for patients. There is a lot of appetite for research and innovation at MGH and programs/initiatives to support it, so if you have an idea about how to make something better for patients or make it easier or more efficient to do, there are resources available to help you operationalize it. You never know what can come out of it - you might end up presenting at a conference, having your work used to inform a new policy, or just feeling good knowing you made a difference.   

Can you share your career path at MGH?I started at MGH three years ago as a nurse practitioner and I was an ICU nurse before that, so joining MGH as a NP was the latest career move for me. One of the things I love about nursing is how many different things you can do as a nurse, and how many different directions you can take your career. Some nurses want to pursue more education to expand their scope of practice or become really specialized in one particular area, while others might want to move around a bit more to try out new settings and learn new skills to keep things interesting. MGH is not only a great place to do all these things; they are also actively encouraged and supported. There will always be someone willing to share their perspective, give you a hand, or cheer you on. The sense of community that you feel within the walls at MGH is real, and it’s exciting to feel a part of that as you learn and grow as a nurse.

What motivates/inspires you?

The unpredictability and the fact that every day is different is definitely what keep my days exciting (and challenging), but the humanity inherent in being a nurse is and will always be the reason I love being a nurse. Taking care of people for a living teaches you all kinds of things about yourself and about people in general, but to be a human being to another human being who is in trouble or suffering or scared - I think it’s just the most powerful thing.

If you could share one memorable moment from your time at MGH, what stands out to you?

A while ago we had a patient on our service with an active substance use disorder who was admitted for surgery. Pain management for these patients can sometimes be challenging since they tend to be more sensitive to pain and are often tolerant to the pain medications we use. It can take some time to find the right approach. In addition to this, patients with a substance use disorder often feel stigmatized in a hospital setting and usually expect that their pain will be difficult to control, so situations like surgery can be understandably scary for them. As a result, many leave the hospital prior to completing their treatment, which was a concern with this particular patient as well.

I had several conversations with him to find out how we could best help him; how I could advocate for him and keep him involved in the decisions that affect him. I was honest with him in that his pain control was likely to be challenging, and provided reassurance that we would do everything we could to make sure he was as comfortable as possible. We came up with a plan that was customized to his individual pain experience and addressed his specific needs with compassion and without judgement. He ended up doing very well and was able to complete his treatment. When it was time for him to be discharged, he thanked me and said, “I’ve never had anyone in my corner like that before.”

I think about that moment a lot because this person, who initially came to the hospital alone and quite fearful, is now leaving MGH feeling like there are people there who care and will look out for him. I feel like it reflects so well the compassion, integrity, courage and accountability that is so foundational to what we do here, and the impact it has on us, our patients and our community.

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