RCH medicine unit

Medicine Unit staff from 5 South and 5 North, Royal Columbian Hospital, worked together in a fun, new way to tackle not so new health care challenges.


Chris MacGregor had literally just signed his contract to be a manager at Royal Columbian Hospital when he participated in last fall’s regional care and discharge planning summit. Inspired by the theme of engaging an interprofessional team in care and discharge planning, he returned to 5 South/5 North with an amazing idea. 

“I wondered, what can we do to engage the team with the information coming out of the summit. His solution: The Amazing Race, health care style.  

“I didn’t realize just how engaged they would be. I didn’t expect the competitiveness. It was just like the show,” he laughs. The unit staff have now been recognized with one of this year’s Above and Beyond Innovator Awards.

Inspired by the popular reality series, Chris and Clinical Nurse Educator Jen West designed different “geographical” routes with clues requiring teamwork that lead to a specific goal, with the added challenge of roadblocks and U-turns. Each of the 12 self-selected teams of six consisted of four nurses, since they form the majority of the staff, one doctor, plus one other member who was a unit clerk, allied health professional, care aid, or other discipline. To spread the game’s lessons with the entire unit, bonus points were awarded for sharing with those who weren’t on one of the teams. 

For the first route, which took place in the land of Royal Columbian Hospital, teams worked collaboratively to understand care and discharge planning, leading to the launch of structured interprofessional rounds where nurses now report on their patients daily. Among other tasks, quality improvement projects, performance planning, and a stairclimbing challenge were incorporated into the game too. “One team climbed the CN Tower more than 120 times by the end of the race.”

The other race routes took participants, virtually speaking, to South Korea for the Olympics, then Australia, Brazil, and back home to collect photos of hospital staff with “I am the patient experience” photos, for a project inspired by the Beryl Institute.  

One of the biggest plot twists was how important culture-building, not just information-sharing, became as the game went on. “Teams got together at each other’s homes or through social networks to strategize, learn, solve and complete tasks required,” Chris said. “The race itself was complex and kept me sincerely busy, but the outcomes are astounding.”  

Some of those outcomes include rolling out a new delirium protocol, code red education, and frontline staff creating processes to self-audit on important quality targets. Staff also came up with ways to create a healthier workplace, such as a monthly staff appreciation day and a quality circle where they take 10 minutes together to regroup and re-energize, helping create deeper relationships with each other and ultimately improving the patient experience. 

Playing host for this version of The Amazing Race taught Chris as much as the other participants. “You can’t do the manager role on your own,” he said. “All the answers are out there on the frontline. If you include and communicate with people, they’ve got great suggestions.” 

A former Clinical Nurse Specialist for Fraser Health’s Emergency network, Chris says the game helped him get to know the staff on the 5 South/5 North medicine units better and involve them in decision-making. In January, just before the game started, he shifted his workday to start at 6:30 a.m. in order to overlap with the night staff and discuss any issues that arose overnight – a practice he credits with allowing him to help troubleshoot with the team, and staff went home without the burden of those issues weighing on them. 

“Everything is communication. And this was the ultimate communication game.” 

The team includes: Lauren Buckell, Abraham Cabaccang, Merly Co, Isadora Donoso, Jeniffer Fajardo, Joyce Gunderson, David Haegert, Yishi Liang, Christopher Macgregor, Jennifer West, Ushma Maghera, Ruth Mocnangan, Jocelyn Molgat, Jessieca Pagaduan, Carmen Luisa Paterno, Robert Silayen.


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