Brenda Stutsky

Remembering H7 and the Adult Intensive Care Nursing Program

My time spent as a student in the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) Adult Intensive Care Nursing Program (AICNP) (1984), as a critical care nurse in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU)/Coronary Care Unit (CCU) (1984-1991), and as the Director of the HSC Collaborative AICNP (1993-2008) shaped my career and my own personal values. I was essentially a new graduate nurse when I enrolled in the nine-month HSC AICNP. It was during the program that I honed my physical assessment skills and expanded my knowledge of physiology which allowed me to plan and implement care for almost any type of patient. One of my most memorable moments as a student was the night when we moved the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) from its location in the back of the Post Anaesthesia Care Unit into its “new” home on the 7th floor of the General Hospital.

Working as a critical care nurse in the MICU/CCU, known as H7 or 7th Heaven, is when I developed a true understanding of the nursing process, interprofessional practice, and teamwork. One of the best parts of working in H7 was the fun we had both at work and outside of work. If it were today, we would most likely be disciplined for some of the antics that included goldfish in tube feed bags! Although we had fun, we really were professional, supported each other, were respected by our interprofessional colleagues, and provided the best care that we could give. Lifelong friendships were formed along the way, and fantastic summer staff BBQs and a baseball team were some of the activities that helped to gel those friendships! Critical care was an important stepping stone for the career paths of numerous nurses. I have always been in awe of the number of nurses that went onto senior leadership positions in various healthcare facilities and organizations; a reflection of the superior group of H7 nurses I had the privilege of working with and learning from. My time in H7 was also when my own journey of lifelong learning started in terms of university education, and I finished a baccalaureate degree and master’s degree in nursing while working in H7.

Moving into the role of the Director of the Neonatal and Pediatric Critical Care Nursing Program and the HSC Collaborative AICNP offered in conjunction with St. Boniface General Hospital and the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Nursing, was an absolute honour. At the time, Dr. Joan Jenkins, the Director of Nursing Education, took a chance on me (I was a 30 year old and the position was a one-year term), and that led to a 15 year career (short 2 days) with critical care education. The hardest day was Friday, August 1, 2008, for it was the last graduation for the HSC Collaborative AICNP. Tears came to my eyes as I addressed the last graduating class. It was the end of an era, and the end of my tenure as the director of a program held dear to many hearts. My time with critical care not only shaped my career, it shaped some of my personal values that include perseverance, trust, and accountability.

Brenda Jane Stutsky RN, BN, MScN, EdS, PhD