October 2023

How Peer Coaches Support the QA Assessment Process

Katrina Blanchard knows all about what Quality Assurance (QA) Assessment means to nurses, and how it can be a platform for professional growth. A Nurse Practitioner (NP) at Windsor Regional Hospital, Blanchard was randomly selected for QA Assessment in April 2022.

She was nervous about it at first. “I was very anxious and a little bit terrified,” Blanchard told us last year about her reaction to QA Assessment selection. She was worried that the process might be involved and difficult to navigate, or that her knowledge, skill and judgment would be scrutinized.

Despite these reservations, Blanchard approached QA Assessment, which is an accountability for all nurses who are randomly selected, as an opportunity for self-reflection and growth.

Eighteen months later, Blanchard is now a Peer Coach for QA Assessment, supporting nurses through the process and guiding them to get the most out of it just like she did.

“Through my own lived experience, I was able to realize how supportive the process was,” Blanchard told The Standard. “I wanted to give that back to other members.”

She explains the emphasis is on supporting nurses best in how to self-reflect to further their development and growth and that she understands what QA Assessment feels like because she has been there too. 

Photo of Janet Montague, Peer CoachPhoto of Katrina Blanchard, NP
Janet Montague, Peer Coach
Katrina Blanchard, NP, at Windsor Regional Hospital

Peer Coaching is one of several ways CNO supports nurses through the QA Assessment process. In the QA Assessment process, members are assigned one of CNO’s Peer Coaches, each of whom is a fellow actively practicing nurse, has in-depth expertise in CNO practice standards and guidelines and is trained to support members throughout the process. Nurse Practitioners are assigned a Peer Coach who is also an NP, like Blanchard. The coaches are there to assess QA submissions, offer guidance and encouragement and ensure nurses understand their accountabilities related to the standards of practice.

It’s a role that Janet Montague, a Registered Nurse and PhD candidate, knows well. A nurse with 22 years of experience, she’s been a Peer Coach with CNO since 2010 and makes sure to keep sight of what makes the role so valuable.

“Peer coaches can assist in helping the nurses set specific, achievable goals that can help boost the nurses' confidence by offering reassurance and guidance,” she says. “Knowing that a colleague supports them can help nurses approach assessments with greater self-assurance, which might reduce stress,” she adds.  

Nurses who are randomly selected for the QA Assessment process can choose to participate in peer coaching.  Peer coaching can help nurses who need to revise and resubmit their QA activities, or who want further feedback on their submission after completing the program. However, peer coaching is mandatory for nurses who receive remedial support. The coaching sessions are conducted virtually and can be booked directly with the Peer Coach.

Based on her experience, Montague gives some advice on how nurses can get the most out of QA Assessment. “Nurses should ask questions and seek clarification if uncertain about any assessment aspect. It's better to seek guidance than make assumptions.”  She advises nurses to embrace the learning opportunity and see QA as a means of ongoing personal and professional development; and, if there are any questions along the way, help is there.

Montague adds that being part of this process has meant a lot to her, including the chance to learn from her fellow nurses across the province as she supports them. “Being a peer coach also led to my personal and professional growth. I have learned from the coaching process to develop my communication skills, empathy, active listening and the ability to provide constructive feedback.”

The next QA Assessment notifications will be sent out on Monday, Oct. 16. Nurses who are randomly selected for QA Assessment will be notified via email.

We also encourage all nurses to engage in QA everyday by reflecting on your practice. You can find additional QA resources and FAQs on our website.

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