Audra McCann: ‘Where I want to be’
Celebrating our Nurses through the extension of Year of the Nurse and Midwife
The World Health Organization recently extended the Year of the Nurse and Midwife through 2021. Here in the Providence Alaska Region, we’re celebrating our nurses through a series of stories from across our ministries. These stories spotlight our nurses, their incredible dedication to our Mission, their profession, and their patients.
At Anchorage’s St. Elias Specialty Hospital, Audra McCann, RN, BSN, is that often-unseen nurse on the other side of the computer screen.
While patient care happens at the bedside, the vast amount of information needed to guide and inform that care is part of the electronic medical record. This is where McCann puts 14 years of nursing know-how to use improving the caregiving experience.
“Having the nursing background makes it easier to communicate (caregiver) needs,” McCann says. “I’ve been there.”
After nursing school, McCann returned to her hometown of Valdez to become a bedside nurse at Providence Valdez Medical Center, the community’s critical access hospital. She quickly grew her experience in multiple acute care nursing specialties, including emergency care and labor and delivery.
“It’s a very difficult type of nursing to do,” McCann says of her time learning all the different nursing roles in Valdez. “It really is and should be considered its own specialty, because you dabble in all of the nursing specialties.”
She would soon switch into a nurse educator role, helping colleagues learn the different types of equipment needed to do their jobs. Though she would eventually become a nurse manager, the nurse educator role introduced her to a new specialty, which would ultimately become her primary focus today.
She now spends her days helping build increased functionality in the long-term acute care hospital’s electronic medical record – enhancing the technology to improve the delivery of safe, evidenced-based, quality care to the hospital’s patients.
McCann sees herself as a bridge and translator between frontline caregivers and the electronic medical record, helping them use it in the best way possible and tweak it for their needs. Part of her job is to make the caregivers’ work in the electronic medical record easier, so that they can ultimately spend more time with patients.
“I can actually find resolutions to their issues – ‘just click on this over here’ and their world lights up.”
If there currently isn’t a way to do what the nurses and providers want to do in the electronic medical record, she helps figure out how to take things to the next level. Sometimes that can be as simple as reducing what was 10 clicks on the keyboard down to two.
“I really like to support the frontline caregivers and give them what they need to take care of their patients,” McCann says, “That’s where my passion lies, to support the caregivers and help ease their way so that they can do what they love – spending time taking care of their patients.”
Recently a provider stopped to share just what McCann’s help creating templates for her notes in the electronic medical record meant to her practice. Instead of entering information twice, the provider was able to use her notes to document needed information into other parts of the medical record.
"You know, in this way, you are helping to save lives as well,” the provider told her. “The less time we spend writing notes or copying things over, the more time we are with patients.”
While she misses providing direct bedside care as a nurse from time to time, that praise confirmed her mission of support to caregivers as they care for patients.
McCann knows that frontline nurses can be the “bright light” to the patients in their care and can be the ready set of ears for patients to share their story.
“If there is anything I can do in the background, so that they can have those experiences, that’s where I want to be,” she says.