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Nursing for a Better World
Episode

Sylvain “Syl” Trepanier, System Chief Nursing Officer at Providence

Nursing for a Better World

Nurses, don’t be shy to show up as loving leaders! In this episode, we hear from Syl Trepanier, System Chief Nursing Officer for Providence, about his work as a nurse executive leader in a not-for-profit, mission-driven healthcare system organization. He talks about how Providence’s vision of health for a better world leads them to partner with leaders that lean into their communities’ needs.

 

Syl explains how Providence nurses approach whole-person patient care from reflection and being fully present at the moment, demonstrating warmth with others, and being vulnerable. He talks about promising technology in healthcare in the nursing assistance area as well as challenges like uncertainty and nursing shortage.

Tune in to this episode to learn about how nurse executive leader Syl Trepanier is working at Providence to deliver health for a better world!

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Nursing for a Better World

About Syl Trepanier:

Sylvain “Syl” Trepanier, DNP, RN, CENP, FAAN, FAONL is the System Chief Nursing Officer for Providence. In this position he serves as the voice for nursing at the most senior executive level, representing nursing practice for 48 thousand nurses in 52 hospitals, and 1085 clinics, in seven states. He also serves as the co-chair of the system’s Workforce Council.

Dr. Trepanier is a seasoned nurse executive with healthcare system experience in executive leadership, organizational transformation, and system standardization. Dr. Trepanier is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and a Fellow of the American Organization of Nursing Leadership (AONL). He obtained his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Nursing from the University of Montreal Canada and a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Texas Tech University Health Science Center (TTUHSC). 

In addition to his duties as a System Chief Nursing Executive, he is an assistant professor for TTUHSC in the Masters in Nursing Administration program. He currently serves as a member of the Advisory Board for the Institute of Human Caring, is one of three appointed nurse leaders serving on the American Hospital Association’s, Clinical Leadership Committee, and is a member of the Board of Trustees for CGFNS, the world’s largest credentials evaluation agency for nursing and allied health, and serves on the Audit Committee for the American Academy of Nursing.

 

Outcomes Rocket_Syl Trepanier: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Outcomes Rocket_Syl Trepanier: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Saul Marquez:
Hey everybody, Saul Marquez with the Outcomes Rocket. I want to welcome you back to the podcast. We’ve got a really interesting series on nursing and nurse leadership after the pandemic, and today I am so privileged to have an incredible nurse leader join us. His name is Sylvan “Syl” Trepanier, and he is the System Chief Nursing Officer for Providence. In this position, he serves as the voice for nursing at the most senior executive level, representing nursing practice for 48,000 nurses in 52 hospitals, over 1000 clinics in seven states. He also serves as the co-chair for the system’s Workforce Council. Dr. Trepanier is a seasoned nurse executive with healthcare system experience in executive leadership, organizational, transformational, and systems standardization roles. Dr. Trepanier is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and a fellow of the American Organization of Nurse Leadership. He got his bachelor’s and also master’s degree in nursing from University of Montreal in Canada and his doctorate of Nursing Practice from Texas Tech. He’s just an incredible person and an executive. We need his type of leadership and really the health system today, and I’m so privileged to welcome him to the podcast, Syl, welcome.

Syl Trepanier:
Good morning, Saul. Thank you so much for having me.

Saul Marquez:
It’s a pleasure to have you here. And so, you know, there’s so much going on for nurses today and really for a lot of healthcare leaders. We’re going to cover a lot of that today. But before we do, I wanted to ask what inspires your work in healthcare?

Syl Trepanier:
Great question. You know, I knew I wanted to be a nurse at a pretty young age. My dad was diagnosed as one of those rare late-type-one diabetics, and I just saw him being so sickly and really wanted to do something and really was drawn into healthcare, more specifically nursing. So I, it was very clear to me, you know, after high school and college went into, I did all of my pre works and the work that I needed to do to get there. And interestingly enough, something that I knew right at the onset, no surprise, I went into care for diabetic patients and felt that I needed to be certified in that, in fact, when I was a nursing student, I was the nurse in a camp for diabetic kids. I did that for a while. And then in practice, in that environment, I also knew that I wanted to be a, I didn’t know what to call it then, I didn’t know it was going to be called a chief nurse, but I knew I wanted to be a nurse executive, and that’s the path that I’ve been on.

Saul Marquez:
I love it, and so you were able to kind of dive into that experience that you had with your dad and said, I’m going to do something more. This is going to be impactful, and you did it from the beginning, which is inspiring. Not a lot of people have that clarity, Syl, like, hey, this is what I’m going to do, and this is how I’m going to do it. So a testament to what you’ve done and how you do it. When you think about Providence and the work that you do, what would you say what you guys do that adds value to the healthcare ecosystem?

Syl Trepanier:
I am so grateful to be practicing right now at Providence, a healthcare system, non-for-profit, mission-driven organization that was founded by many congregation of sisters. Interestingly enough, the, one of the major congregation is the Sisters of Providence, who, by the way, were founded in Montreal, Canada.

Saul Marquez:
Oh, nice.

Syl Trepanier:
In fact.

Saul Marquez:
Your hometown.

Syl Trepanier:
I know, my very first clinical as a nurse, as a nursing student was in a hospital that was founded by the Sisters of Providence. So I feel like I’m home. I feel like I’m coming full circle. Being able to practice in an organization that truly lives its values and mission. I mean, it’s very clear we are here with a vision of health for a better world, and how we go about doing that is leaning in to the needs of the communities where we serve actively and in collaboration and partnership with other community leaders, identifying best ways to meet those needs, those healthcare needs, and beyond. So we believe in the importance of whole-person care and really taking individuals where they are in their lives today, and how can we best partner with them in bringing them to their utmost health status, if you will. And it’s an organization that really lives for that, and that is super refreshing to me. Having, I was raised as a nurse in a, as we just talked about in Montreal, Canada, in a completely different healthcare system where health promotion is at the heart of much of what I was trained for. So in order to be able to practice in an environment like that is very refreshing and rewarding for me.

Saul Marquez:
That’s really great to hear. And there is this turn for, you know, wellness and, you know, taking care of people now. I know you guys are making some really great moves in the hospital-in-the-home, and how nurses interact with patients where they’re at is really a testament to the advances that are being made by you and the team there. If you had to point to anything that you feel makes the way you guys deliver care different, what would you say it is?

Syl Trepanier:
You know, I would say that it’s definitely our deliberate approach where we show up delivering whole-person care. I would say that that is definitely I mean, everyone talks about the importance of holistic care, and I get that. I would, though, say that Providence nurses are very deliberate about creating and respecting those sacred encounters that, you know, that happens every day. That really stems from being present connecting with those that we care for. So we have lots of conversations around, what does that mean for us? What does that mean for our patients? And so that presence is super important. So because it’s always in the back of our mind and because we want to show up that way, and because we’re tuned in with community partners in identifying what are those needs, I’d say that that is one differentiator for sure. And our constant focus on our north star, Health for a Better World. It is our north star and we talk about it, and we, you know, we have a practice in our health system. When we need as a group for any meetings, we start our meeting by having a moment of reflection to connect us.

Saul Marquez:
I like that.

Syl Trepanier:
We connect the group, the team, to our vision and mission so that we can stay true to our existence and being focused on our true north, and we don’t lose sight of that. I mean, that has so much value. One, it helps you stay connected. And I would say that it inspires you in conversations where you could, there’s so much noise in healthcare today, you could lose sight of your true north in a split second. So this constant practice of reflecting prior to a conversation is also something that differentiates us on how we approach things.

Saul Marquez:
That’s fantastic Syl, and in the environment that we’re in, too much focus, I think, goes to technology and strategy. While very important, there’s nothing like that presence, and it sounds like you guys have built in reflection as part of your operating mechanisms, and I think we all need to be thinking about that. So, folks, what are you doing in your practice of business or medicine to standardize this reflection? I think it’s a fantastic idea and one that we all need to be thinking about. So thank you for sharing that, Syl, with a lot of the things that we’ve faced, COVID environment, there’s been so many setbacks, but also growth. Can you talk to us about maybe one of those setbacks and a key learning that came from that?

Syl Trepanier:
Yeah, my God, identifying one, that’s a hard thing. So much has happened in the last, what has it been two and a half years now?

Saul Marquez:
Yeah.

Syl Trepanier:
I would say, though, and particularly because we were, I mean, we were building the plane as we were flying it, most days, particularly at the beginning. You know, one thing that I came to realize fairly quickly and that I had noticed with other leaders, with other nurses, for that matter, I mean, and anyone, we don’t deal well with uncertainty in healthcare. Remember that most of what we do, inherent to what we do, maybe everything is evidence-based.

Saul Marquez:
Right.

Syl Trepanier:
You don’t, you want to know, Saul, when you go into a hospital that we’re not testing stuff on you, real life, right? You want to know that we’re, so, that our business requires us and it has always required us, at least since I’ve been a nurse that, you know, what’s the latest evidence and how do we make sure that we bring this to the bedside? So all those uncertainties made us super uncomfortable, and quite frankly, we were not, I was not prepared for that. You know, I’m, I practiced in the emergency department. For a fair amount of time during my clinical years, I would, back then, you would have asked me, was I prepared to address disaster? I’d go like, yes, we practice, we do this, in fact, I can’t tell you the number of emergency preparedness sessions that I have that I’ve led myself in, in hospitals and the likes. So, would always say back then, yeah, we know we’re ready. And I had no clue what a real disaster was. I didn’t. And the majority of us didn’t. Yes. You know, I, you know, I, I practiced in environments where we had like hurricanes, and I have colleagues who unfortunately have faced some really horrible local tragic event, and we’ve all, many have faced that. None of our generation has faced two and a half years of ongoing, you know, trauma and being super uncomfortable in this space. So, quite frankly, my biggest lesson has been learning how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. And quite frankly, what that requires is a great deal of vulnerability.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah.

Syl Trepanier:
On part of all leaders, something that doesn’t necessarily come naturally as well. So I’d want to, I think it’s important that we recognize that, that we talk about it. You know, it’s okay, I guess, to still feel uncomfortable to a certain extent, but it starts by calling it out for ourselves. The other thing I would say is, in our environment, we learned that it’s actually possible to innovate on your feet, and that was something that was very different to us. And I’m thinking, I’m aspiring, I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to flex those muscles a little bit more as I think about the future because there’s still tons of innovation that needs to occur in our, in healthcare.

Saul Marquez:
Thank you for that, Syl. Number one, thanks for the vulnerability. It starts from the top. And, you know, an organization with leadership like yours that allows the room for vulnerability is a learning organization that moves forward. You know, and I think, I have major respect for you and for leaders that can do that. It’s, I think, it’s table stakes. And the pandemic was challenging for all of us. We’re turning the corner now. I mean, there was so much innovation that happened in the last two and a half years, very trying years. But more has to happen, and so I am excited to see what we can get out of the learnings, we all have made to see how we could shape the future of healthcare. So if you, where does your mind go, Syl, with this question? What’s one healthcare trend or technology that’s going to change healthcare as we know it today?

Syl Trepanier:
I would say, you know, we have gained so much grounds when I think about telehealth and how it is leveraged. Now, let’s be honest, part of the reason why we’ve gained so much of that ground over the last two and a half years is because the reimbursement was also there. So we have to recognize that. And that’s why it’s very important, quite frankly, that we all send the message to our lawmakers that we cannot go back and that can’t go away. You know, there there is risk that some of the reimbursement in that space could go away. So put that plug in there, that’s very important. But telehealth is very important, and that really translated into virtual care, virtual care in spaces that we had not seen it before. When I think about hospital-at-home, you alluded to it earlier and yes, we are in that space and would love to do more of that. That creates, we have our own sets of barrier around that and some of which are self-inflicted, meaning that it’s a big change, it’s a big practice change for all disciplines, and not all disciplines are necessarily embracing it as much as we would want, we want them to. We’ll get there, I have no doubt. And the advent of leveraging virtual care in the acute care setting had been, up until the epidemic really, had been focused on specialty care. You may have heard, some of the listeners may have heard of tele-ICU, for instance, or name the specialist that we would bring virtually into the space. What we had not done, though, is how can you support the team that’s there today? Above and beyond specialty physician care. So we’ve had colleagues across the nation who started providing virtual nurses to help the nurses at the bedside. And in examples like that, in fact, some healthcare system even advertised internally as well as you’re going to start to see, I suspect you’re going to start to read more and more in the literature about virtual nursing units. I am very inspired by that. And the reason for this is the International Council of Nursing, which is a world organization, reminded us that by 2030, now this 2030 is like, what, like eight years away?

Saul Marquez:
Right, it’s crazy.

Syl Trepanier:
It is possible that you and I, that the world may face a 13 million nursing shortage. 13 million nurses short worldwide. You know, I’m sorry, but that’s a country, right? Think about that.

Saul Marquez:
That’s a huge, huge gap.

Syl Trepanier:
It’s huge. So it doesn’t matter how good we are in recruiting, it doesn’t matter how good we are in retaining people. We cannot keep doing the work the way we’re doing it right now because we just won’t have enough people. So it’s really, it’s so whether it’s telehealth, right, going back to your question and how to better leverage telehealth in virtual care in the acute care setting, coupled with doing the work very differently, is super important. I mean, you and I can go grocery shopping today. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced one of those stores where you can just, like, put your app on your phone and you walk in and then, you know, and you walk out with your stuff and they know exactly what you have in your cart and you don’t have to interact with anyone.

Saul Marquez:
I haven’t done that. Have you? Have you done it?

Syl Trepanier:
I have. It’s actually pretty darn cool.

Saul Marquez:
Is it?

Syl Trepanier:
It’s pretty darn cool, so, right? So it’s technology. It’s leveraging, you know.

Saul Marquez:
It’s pretty amazing.

Syl Trepanier:
I’m not techie enough to know exactly what’s the right technology behind all of that, but I can experience it enough that I know there has to be a way that we can better leverage this in healthcare.

Saul Marquez:
Yes.

Syl Trepanier:
You know, today we’re asking our nurses to, nurses physicians, to go back to a computer and type in, yes, type in all of their stuff and check off boxes as they document the care that they provided. I’m sorry, but in today’s environment and tomorrow, I should be able to enter a room, I should be able to say, hey, whichever technology you want to use, this is Syl, right? And they know that I’m the registered nurse and they know I’m taking care of Saul today, and I could be able to say out loud, I’m about to do a cardiovascular assessment, and Saul, I’m going to do this right now, I’m going to be talking out loud so that we can document this together, but more importantly, let’s engage in a conversation, if you have any questions about it, let me know. I mean, how engaging is that and how much of bringing joy back in my practice where I don’t have to go back to the nurse’s station and enter all my stuff. That has to happen. So AI, technology, telehealth, virtual health, I have to believe that is here to stay and it’s here to have more of that. I’m actually excited about the opportunity.

Saul Marquez:
There is so much to be excited about. Yeah, you know, Syl, I was having a conversation with I don’t know if you know, Molly McCarthy over at Microsoft. Yeah. And we were talking about this, right? Like, okay, you guys have nuance now, let’s do some magic. And what I loved that she said is like, hey, just like you mentioned, Syl, nurses. Because let’s take care of physicians, let’s take care of nurses.

Syl Trepanier:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, at the end of the day, if you think about the traditional healthcare environment, i.e., the hospital.

Saul Marquez:
Yes.

Syl Trepanier:
Which is not going to go away anytime soon, there’s always going to be a need for people to, unfortunately, they’ll need 24/7 care in a setting so that they can be constantly observed and where people can walk in and really care for them. And who is that that does that 24/7? It’s the nurses.

Saul Marquez:
Nurses. So a shout out to you nurses listening to this. So many promising things to keep you inspired and to keep you going. Just, there’s so much promise. So thank you for what you do. Please keep doing it. We would all not be doing very well if it wasn’t for you. This is so stimulating. Syl, we could, we could chat for hours. So thank you for bringing your thoughtfulness. Can you leave us with a closing thought and the best place that the listeners could connect with you or follow your work?

Syl Trepanier:
Yeah, you know, first of all, I would, I want to make sure that we remind ourselves that people deserve to experience you, to experience me, to experience you, Saul, at your best, right? And the best way I know how to do that is to always be fully present in the moment, demonstrating warmth with others, sharing you care about them, being vulnerable. When we show up as loving leaders, as warming leaders, as warm leaders, I should say, trust develops, and when trust is present, that’s when you’re able to inspire others, and greatness occurs. Inspiration is the essence of leadership. So don’t be shy to show up as a loving leader is, I guess, the key message here. And lastly, I certainly would invite everyone to follow me, follow us on social media, Providence, on Twitter, Providence Health System on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram, and Saul. I can’t thank you enough for inviting me today.

Saul Marquez:
No, it’s been a true pleasure, Syl, and I want to underscore your message here and everybody listening, be present, be a loving leader, be vulnerable. Let’s take this example that Syl has left for us today not only as inspiration, but a call to action to actually do something about it. Syl, thanks so much for your time. Really appreciate it.

Syl Trepanier:
You bet.

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Things You’ll Learn:

  • Providence has a vision of health for a better world, actively leaning into the needs of the communities and in partnership with other community leaders, identifying the best ways to meet healthcare needs and beyond.
  • AI technology, telehealth, and virtual health are here to stay and they are changing healthcare forever.
  • The International Council of Nursing predicts that by 2030 the world may face a 13 million nursing shortage.
  • The best way to deliver care is to be fully present at the moment, demonstrate warmth with others, share that you care, and be vulnerable.
  • Inspiration is the essence of leadership. 

Resources:

 

This episode is brought to you by Provider Solutions and Development, the leaders in physician and APC recruitment that deliver top-tier candidates for the right roles. Visit info.PSDconnect.org/outcomesrocket to start the conversation today, get tailored support and dedicated recruitment and efforts that lead to provider retention and longevity.