A Windsor nurse has been awarded the de Souza Nurse Designation for the first time, joining 19 other nurses across Ontario who have reached this accomplishment.
Erikka Johnson, a registered nurse in the oncology unit at Windsor Regional Hospital, earned the designation by completing 12 de Souza courses totalling more than 150 hours of coursework.
Johnson entered the program in 2010, shortly after completing her nursing degree at the University of Windsor. She said the program, which included a 75-hour clinical fellowship in palliative care, has broadened her skillset.
“When I have patients or nurses who have patients and they are struggling to get certain parts of their care completed, or they’re struggling to have a more holistic approach to their care, we’re able to talk about knowing what hospice does and knowing what they’re going to experience from palliative care,” she said Thursday.
Johnson said she shared what she learned about palliative care with other nurses at Windsor Regional and helped bring in hospice professionals to speak with nurses.
She said it’s important for nurses to have this information because it transfers to better safety for patients.
“I believe that in this age of lots of technology that people can get information everywhere and I think that the safest and strongest thing that they can do is get it from somebody that really knows it,” she said.
Komal Patel, an advanced practice nurse educator for de Souza, said Johnson has a special kind of passion with nursing.
“She’s always looking for more things to do, ways to enhance her knowledge,” said Patel. “It’s all about patient care at the end of the day – what can I do to better myself so I can provide that better care?”
The de Souza Institute began in 2008 with funding from Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.
Patel said the institute offers more than 30 courses ranging in price from $113 to $499 and most are available online. The content from the courses is informed by health experts from across the country, she said.
Windsor Regional oncologist Dr. Sinju Kanjeekal said she was impressed with Johnson’s idealism and dedication to patients when they started working together three years ago.
“I think now she’s developing the skills and the knowledge that she needs to bring about that change that she wants,” said Kanjeekal. “I’m very proud of her for that.”
Johnson said she hopes to see a lot more nurses from Windsor receive the same designation. She said she plans to continue her nursing education.