Maria Baxendine is a brilliant example of continuous quality improvement in practice. Her passion to make a difference has led to her driving a vast number of improvement projects in Waikato Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED), much to the delight and appreciation of her colleagues.
There are signs of Maria’s work everywhere in ED – from thousands of hours of practical input to the design of the new Emergency Department, organising a new neonatal resuscitaire for ED, to advancing nursing documentation forms, right down to working out a way to store and dispense yellow personal protection gowns in resus.
It was her colleagues who nominated Maria for the Nurse of the Year Award, and their submissions clearly show her attitude as much as her achievements and experience make her such a valued team member.
As one of her several nominators puts it: “Not only does she give 110% every shift she works by mentoring all the staff, but she treats the patients and their whānau with the most absolutely fabulous care, and then comes in on her days off to ensure policies are updated and quality improvements are maintained throughout the department. Maria is one of life’s legends and I hear every week how she has influenced or improved somebody’s practice.”
Her own response is simply “That’s just how I am.”
Maria started working as a theatre nurse aide at Waikato Hospital in 1990 while completing her diploma in nursing. She started working in recovery, then in general surgery and general medicine wards before moving to ED in 2001.
Although she has had experience as an acting charge nurse manager, she prefers to remain clinically focused “on the floor” as a senior registered nurse treating patients and making things better.
“What is important to me is good old fashioned values, with respect being the most important. I treat all patients the way I would want to be treated, with respect, dignity and empathy,” she says.
“If you set and maintain good clinical standards, you will deliver quality care and have good patient outcomes.”
Maria has a strong interest in teaching and training, including yearly resuscitation study days and many education sessions at nursing handover, as well as mentoring new staff.
How does a person like this, working a fulltime shift in ED and so willing to spend voluntary time to work on her projects, have any life of her own? What personal time she does have, Maria spends in her garden and with good friends, as well as visiting her mother. She is the first to admit that her nursing and her projects take up a big and important part of her life.
No wonder one of her nominations says: “There are some amazing nurses out there that you recognise as nurses you’d be stoked to have even half of their qualities, and Maria is one of them…This nomination is actually on behalf of Emergency Department’s 134 nurses, 17 healthcare assistants, 8 assistant charge nurse managers, 6 clinical nurse specialists and the medical team.”