Student profile
Carina Retter

Carina Retter

"Last semester I joined the Kaizen Team at the East Surrey Hospital for a five day rapid process improvement workshop."

Last semester I joined the Kaizen team at the East Surrey Hospital for a five-day rapid process improvement workshop. The target for the week was to improve the transfer of patients from the emergency department to the ward.   

The team included colleagues from a range of roles and departments including nurses from the acute medical unit, the site team, transfer team, admin managers, trackers, and a porter. We were tasked with identifying solutions to improving patient wait times, identifying defects in the current systems, and to set up standards of work and improve the overall patient experience of transfers. 

First, we identified all the decisions and actions (large and small) that were taken from the moment a patient was declared 'I'm ready to clinically proceed' to their completed handover by the receiving ward. We learnt how many minutes (or even footsteps) each step in this process involved! 

We were allocated different teams and then, each day, we walked the ward - looking at where the work is done such as in the emergency department or the acute medical unit. We trialled different ideas with the 'home teams' and assessed whether to improve, keep or abandon them.  Twice a day, we regrouped to share what we'd achieved and what our next steps would be to ensure that all the targets were being addressed.  The week culminated in a presentation shared with the Trust. The Trust then revisits progress at 60 and 90 days. 

Participating in this week was hard work - I had to understand a lot of new terms and information - but I learnt a lot about the processes involved and the different roles within the trust. It was also good to meet members of the wider team. The week also gave me an opportunity to develop my team working and management skills including how to allocate tasks, introduce new ways of working, communicate effectively and manage conflict.   

I would recommend any student who is offered the opportunity to take part in a Kaizen week to take it up! 

"One of the aspects of nursing that attracts me most is its flexibility and being able to change direction over my career. " 

A change in careers

Nursing was a career change for me after twenty years of teaching but I have absolutely loved my nursing studies at Surrey and starting something so completely different.  Learning new skills and then securing my competencies whilst on practice has made me more sure of myself.  I was a little anxious about switching back to full-time education, but it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I haven’t regretted it.  I’ve started to think about all the possibilities that potentially lie ahead that weren’t there before.   

Lots of my friends had clear paths planned when they started the course. I’m still unsure about what I would like to specialise in, but one of the aspects of nursing that attracts me most is its flexibility and being able to change direction over my career.