As a member of the hospital’s quality and risk committee and responsible for coordinating the Blood Management Standard she was thoroughly engaged and stimulated throughout the course and now putting into practice all she has learnt.

In 2016 l was the recipient of a partial scholarship from Blood Matters to study the Graduate Certificate of Transfusion Practice through the University of Melbourne. My background is Perioperative Nursing and Education, so you might be wondering why l would have attracted the interest of this scholarship.

As an applicant l was not the norm, as l came from a small private hospital in Melbourne. Besides writing a very convincing letter, my passion for reducing the amount of blood and blood products that sat in our remote blood fridge, must have touched a chord with the organisation’s senior executive committee.

But why should a small private hospital worry about the amount of blood sitting in their blood fridge? I was one of the hospital's quality and risk committee team members and as such l always got the job of addressing the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Blood Management Standard portfolio with the surveyors. My audits and outcomes clearly highlighted that our hospital’s clinical use of blood had reduced, but the routine prescribing of cross-matched blood had not and this was an area that I was keen to address.

I commenced my Graduate Certificate in Transfusion Practice at the University of Melbourne (and Blood Matters) in February 2016. I hit the ground running. There was so much to learn and many amazing students to network with. I was grateful for the supportive education coordinator, Judy, who guided me through this wonderful course.

Judy remained one of the most important people in my learning. As the coordinator, she guided my learning and understanding and refocused my energies when l was unable to find a starting point. Every week my coordinator ran an online workshop, with all students coming together to report on their learning experiences and practices within their own speciality areas.

I steadily worked my way through the course over a 12-month period, completing four subjects over two semesters.

There were many areas of the blood speciality that l had no background in, but l was never far from a fellow student who had some knowledge and could assist me in understanding their specialist role. My fellow students supported me with the guidance of the coordinator by supplying policy documents, clinical practice guidelines and stories of lessons learnt. This helped me formulate my own learning objectives and apply my new knowledge from my studies to my workplace environment.

The Graduate Certificate was not only about the everyday coal-face application of skills and knowledge, it also included the quality processes and the risk assessments of processes and outcomes for patients, when serious events occur as an outcome from blood and blood product therapy.

Throughout the course, I mentored with my manager in the perioperative area, so my clinical assessments could be validated, as l learnt new skills. I mentored with my quality manager, to assist me in looking at the quality and change process within the hospital. I embarked on a risk assessment with the support of my quality manager and course coordinator and this allowed me to further cement my position within the quality and risk committee.

Blood matters supported my learning during this time, by supplying a list of transfusion practice nurses who had completed this course and had volunteered to mentor new students. I contacted a mentor close to my home to see if she would be interested in supporting my clinical learning. My mentor was amazing, she would contact me with items of interest, support my learning when l could not find information, and proofread my reports to ensure I was on track with my arguments. We met up to discuss my blood audits and she assisted me by reading and editing my rough plans. She invited me to network days and Blood Matters workshops and introduced me to several key people, who also mentored me. I visited the Blood Bank in West Melbourne for a day and spent time with the head scientist.

Life was busy. My brain was constantly thinking and planning my next audit and education session for the staff at my hospital. There were times when l overwhelmed myself and after a quick phone call to my course coordinator, Judy, l was back on track, setting realistic objectives for myself and trying not to change the world in one day!

l successfully completed the Graduate Certificate in Transfusion Practice and used my quality assessment tasks and major assignments to address the clinical issues within my workplace.

I became a champion for blood conservation and challenged the surgeons with audit results that showed low use of cross-matched blood to their patients. It was wonderful being able to put into practice what l had learnt.

Last accreditation, l went into discussions with the accreditation team as the NSQHS Blood Standard Champion for my hospital and we did well. I have also overseen the uptake of all the Patient Blood Management modules within the hospital as a resource and a best-practice guide for treatment and prescribing for patient blood management.

Our major blood audits of documentation, prescription and clinical outcomes show compliance with NSQHS Blood standard, and the remote blood fridge only holds two units of emergency O neg blood on most days of the week now.

We have implemented numerous projects and processes around safe practices. We have adopted a multidisciplinary team approach to safe transport to and from the blood bank, safe storage in remote blood fridge, the sign in/out of blood products from blood fridge, awareness of time from sign out to transfusion to patient protocol, and the appropriate documentation of all aspect of transfusion practice within hospital. These are only a few highlights of the changes under way in the hospital.

I would encourage all hospitals to consider a site champion for Blood Transfusion by exploring the website for the University of Melbourne’s Graduate Certificate in Transfusion Practice.

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