Renee Pontbriand, RN is the week-end Nursing Supervisor in a long-term care facility during the 7am-7pm shift where I work some week-end evening shifts. In my 25+ years of nursing, I can honestly say that she is the most effective and respected supervisor that I have ever worked with. Earlier this month we had a pretty big snow storm and I was due in to work at 3pm.
I had some fun shoveling. My Landlady had shoveled my car off which was quite exciting, so I cleaned off my neighbor’s truck and around our garbage bin! (We called it ‘shoveling it forward’ 🙂 ).
Anyways, around 1p the street I lived on still hadn’t been plowed and I was getting concerned. First I called the Department of Public Works and didn’t get much help. “I can’t really tell you when the plows will get there or change their routes”. Staying home was appealing, but not what I felt I should do. Reluctantly, I called work and spoke with Renee to tell her about the situation and that I wasn’t sure if or when I’d make it in. She thanked me for the ‘heads up’ and asked me to call again in an hour or so.
A few minutes later, my phone rang. It was Renee, “I’ll come get you. Would you be ok with that? Mike or Ying will bring you home.” There was something very inspiring in this for me. I said “Sure, thanks”! My street did not get plowed and so she did come for me and Ying, later brought me home. Now, I realize that this effort was not simply to be nice to me and that we needed me to work my unit, yet, I was never so inspired to be going to work! I thought about it a lot and came to see it as a wonderful leadership effort that brought people together to solve a problem and gave me personally a wonderful sense of being part of a team. Isn’t this worth celebrating?
This is the kind of leader Renee is:
1. She is a fierce patient advocate. Her priority is clear. What is best for the patient and family and how can she make that happen. I would not hesitate to have her care for or supervise care for my son or mother!
2. She understands the work that nurses, nurse assistants, and other support staff are doing or trying to do and she cares about us all. She helps whenever she can and I’m pretty sure every other nurse, nurse’s assistant, housekeeper, and other support staff would agree. She works as hard as any of us, maybe harder. (A couple of years ago, I asked her to be one of the voices on an ‘Interruption Awareness” youtube project I was working on and she said, “Sure”. She along with colleagues, Raisy, Kathy, and Hazel added voices to the ‘nursing minute‘ excerpt. The original video has almost 9000 views and is used in many schools and hospitals for education!
3. She respects others’ opinions while staying strong on her direction and guidance. Renee and I do not always agree, and we have some dynamic conversations. Whether a quick discussion about a clinical situation, staffing issue, or organizational politics, she respects my input and I respect hers and as well her decisions. In my own nurse leadership role, I believe these kinds of conversations bring out the best in individuals and teams and have a very positive influence on collaboration and patient care.
This is a wonderful example of balancing hierarchal and relationship power. Thanks, Renee, we need both of these in healthcare!