Thanks to an outward-looking Brock program, Riley Cleverdon is spurring practical change in local health care.Cleverdon is in the final semester of a two-year health services project within Brock’s Interprofessional Education for Quality Improvement Program (I-EQUIP). The lengthy term has allowed the Burford, Ont., native to research best practices for wound care and prevention within hospitals as well as to explore how new wound care strategies could be effectively implemented at Hotel Dieu Shaver (HDS) Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. Catharines.“There is a high incidence and prevalence of chronic wounds — including hospital-acquired pressure wounds, venous ulcers and diabetic ulcers — at health-care facilities across the country,” she said. “We want to keep their incidence as low as possible to ensure the best patient outcomes. My role was to assess the gaps that might be happening in terms of best practice. To do this, I conducted an analysis that found nurses felt they needed more information on what to look for and what specific products were needed for different types of wounds.”Cleverdon is one of 30 I-EQUIP students working on an array of projects with local health-related organizations, including HDS, Niagara Health, Niagara Region Public Health and the Niagara Falls Community Health Centre, working on topics such as infection control in the emergency department, patient satisfaction, care transitions and the implementation of an innovative telemedicine pediatric resuscitation process.After spending months acquiring data and preparing informative guides for HDS nursing staff, the findings from Cleverdon’s project have been met with rave reviews.“Riley’s work has provided a tool to give our staff an additional comfort level,” said Advanced Practice Nurse Sandy Robinson. “We are seeing more complex wounds, and the way we have been doing wound care is evolving. The new tool fits in with shifting what our whole process is.”The wound care guide displays different pictures of wounds for nurses to reference. Having completed the first phase, Cleverdon is moving on to create a more interactive, user-friendly model of the guide that has been embraced by the nursing team, Robinson said.“She is doing something that is going to help staff and they are very appreciative of her efforts.”Hotel Dieu Shaver Chief of Staff Dr. Jack Luce says the energy the seven I-EQUIP students who have completed projects at HDS contribute to the organization is beneficial to everyone.“We appreciate the youthful presence the students bring,” he said. “We have a very special culture here at HDS. When we have students come in who are very engaged with what we are doing, it adds to that culture and who we are.”Luce also said the partnership between HDS and Brock strengthens the region as a whole.“It helps us to provide better information to the community,” he said. “Geographically, we are right across the street from Brock. It makes sense that we are partners, because we are a smaller hospital and we rely on our partnerships to give the best care to our patients.”I-EQUIP Director Madelyn Law said the life-changing opportunities the program offers through its experiential projects allow students from many health-related programs to understand how their classroom lessons can apply to health settings.“Our students are able to understand the complexity that comes with working in the health system,” she said. “It’s not just about knowing the science behind good health-service practices, but also the soft skills, such as leading change and being part of a team, that allow it to be implemented.”Cleverdon believes taking part in experiential learning opportunities such as the I-EQUIP program offers substantial benefit.“I think this has been the most important part of my education,” she said. “I can take what I’ve learned and apply it to different areas. I now know how to talk to people, manage a leadership position and prepare for my future.”Luce said the outside consultation Cleverdon provided has helped the organization to grow as well.“We get fresh eyes that can work with us and have a renewed energy,” he said. “It’s always interesting to see what someone comes up with when they have a fresh look at a problem. We also want the community to know who we are and what we do, and projects like Riley’s help to increase our profile.”The chance to help others has made the months of hard work worth it to Cleverdon.“I’ve seen that if we all work together, we can create better outcomes for patients and practitioners alike,” she said. “I would encourage anyone who is looking for a rewarding experience where they can connect their classroom learning to real-world projects to consider I-EQUIP.”More information about Brock’s I-EQUIP projects can be found on the I-EQUIP website.