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Clare O'Connor, Alumni Profile

Nov 15, 2019

Clare O'Connor

More than 4,000 students have graduated from McMaster's nursing programs. Here we meet Clare O'Connor, Quality Specialist/Continuous Quality Improvement Coach at Hamilton Health Sciences

McMaster Degree:

BScN 2006

Current position:

Quality Specialist/Continuous Quality Improvement Coach at Hamilton Health Sciences

What I love about my work:

I love working with a wide variety of clinical and non-clinical teams in the hospital. I feel like I have a bird’s eye view of how the hospitals system functions and is interconnected. I also love helping teams make connections between units/areas who are working on similar improvement opportunities. I also really enjoy the coaching aspect of this role. It’s a different way of connecting with people and helping them unleash their full potential, which is really satisfying to see.

How I got here: 

I graduated from McMaster in 2006 and started right into the Emergency Department at the Hamilton General, which was my final placement of level 4. I loved that job and learned so much. I had the chance to do some improvement work there looking at how we optimize triaging chest pain patients and that’s what ignited my interest in the systems aspect of healthcare. I felt there was only so much I could do at the front line on my shifts, but if I could help change the way the system worked, I could improve care for so many more patients. This led me to get a Masters degree in Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at University of Toronto in 2013. I then worked in Patient Safety, which was a program that implemented safety initiatives across the organization at HHS. Currently I work as a CQI Coach and work with front line teams as well as leaders, as the teams work on quality improvement projects in their areas.

Why I chose McMaster BScN:

I was aware of the great reputation of the nursing program and I was a big fan of Hamilton. I also had aspirations of playing on the basketball team, but that did not work out.

How my experience at McMaster helped me:

I currently tutor level 4 students and I tell all of them that problem-based learning (PBL) will be the most useful class you ever take. I know when you’re in it, it can be hard to see that, but it truly sets you up to be a self starter, someone who tries to figure things out instead of asking someone else to give you the answers. It gives you a life long appreciation and love of learning. I also appreciated McMaster’s focus on leading and advocating for change. I think it helped me feel empowered very early on in my career to speak up and have a voice. I recall specifically one teacher emphasizing that we need nurses in all parts of our world – government, leadership, politics etc and I see now how even though I’m not providing hands-on patient care at the moment, that there is tremendous value in having the nursing perspective represented in all the venues.

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