Gabriela Kalofonos is the Director of Nursing at Forest Road Day Surgery in Sydney. Last year, she was selected for VHG’s LEAD (Leadership Enhancement and Development) Program.
Vision Hospital Group partners with Steople to deliver the 12-month initiative, which fosters the development of high-performing staff who display the potential to move into broader and more complex leadership roles. Graduates participate in tailored workshops, group coaching sessions and a buddy system to grow their leadership skills.
‘I feel privileged to have been chosen for the program. It was an amazing experience that helped build my leadership and communication skills,’ says Ms Kalofonos.
Since then, she has implemented a pilot program at Forest Road Day Surgery where post-discharge contact with patients who have undergone routine cataract surgery is completed by SMS, rather than a phone call. “The goal is to assess patient acceptance and usability, and hence whether this is a feasible solution to relieve pressure on day surgery nurses.
‘I was also eligible to apply for a research grant through the Future Vision Foundation – a not-for-profit initiative of VHG’s parent company, Vision Eye Institute. Staff at all levels of the organisation who may not have formal research experience but have ideas to improve patient outcomes or healthcare experiences with clinical ophthalmology are encouraged to apply for these grants, says Ms Kalofonos.
‘I’ve always been interested in research but assumed a grant wouldn’t be possible without studying for, or having, a PhD.’
This is not the first research opportunity Ms Kalofonos has had with Vision Hospital Group, either.
She previously collaborated with visiting medical officer Dr Jason Cheng to investigate whether an operating microscope tilting aid could reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury when performing glaucoma angle surgery (in comparison to manual tilting). Ms Kalofonos presented the study results at the poster session of the 2019 Royal Australian and New Zealand Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) meeting. Read the poster abstract
VHG also actively supports its nurses’ professional development through other means – in-house education, financial assistance to attend conferences, and encouraging membership of peak industry bodies.
‘Given we are a national network of ophthalmic day surgeries, it’s unsurprising that many of our nurses are members of peak bodies, such as the Australian Ophthalmic Nurses’ Association (AONA). In fact, VHG sponsored the 2023 AONA Conference, and our Director of Nursing from Panch Day Surgery Centre, Kila Lua, featured in the speaker line-up.’
Ms Kalofonos has been affiliated with AONA for 15 years and a committee member for the past five. ‘As Liaison Officer, I help organise clinical meetings and manage the social media presence. Membership is an excellent way to network with like-minded colleagues and access up-to-date, evidence-based education specifically created for ophthalmic nursing.
‘I was lucky enough to be supported to join AONA early in my career. Now, I encourage all of my nurses to join.’
Gaby Kalofonos RN PGCert OphNurs
Director of Nursing, Forest Road Day Surgery
Industry Liaison, AONA