Meet Accreditation Canada Surveyor: Kris Gustavson

September 21, 2018

Meet Accreditation Canada Surveyor: Kris Gustavson

Kris Gustavson

Did you know that Accreditation Canada (AC) surveyors get to have memorable experiences and see unique places in Canada and around the world?

“There are so many beautiful memories from places I’ve seen that I otherwise, wouldn’t have been able to see,” says Kris Gustavson, Corporate Director, Accreditation and Patient Experience at the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) in B.C., and a surveyor for AC.

Gustavson says that as a surveyor for AC, she has visited organizations in remote locations such as La Ronge, in northern Saskatchewan.

“For example, here, you arrive by float plane and then, the float plane airport is also your hotel and your restaurant,” she said. “Also, you learn quickly that you can’t go for a walk without a bear bell.”

Gustavson has been a surveyor for AC since 2003. She has participated in surveys across five continents in locations such as Canada, Kuwait, Croatia, and Trinidad and Tobago, among others.

She was encouraged to become a surveyor by her peers and AC due to her years of experience in health care, and her knowledge and passion for accreditation.

She is a Registered Nurse with more than 30 years of experience in clinical and administrative roles, in adult and pediatric settings. Gustavson is also a site reviewer for the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia. She holds a Bachelor and a Master of Science in Nursing.

Now, in her role at PHSA, Gustavson oversees the Patient Care Quality Office and supports activities related to quality, safety, accreditation and patient experience at agencies operating under PHSA such as the BC Children’s Hospital and Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre, BC Cancer, and BC Emergency Health Services, to name a few.

“I felt very strongly, and I continue to be very passionate about quality and safety in health care,” she said. “It was also such a great fit with the work that I was doing at PHSA.”

Gustavson notes that the benefits of being a surveyor are two-fold.

On one side, she says, you’re giving your expertise. Gustavson says that as a peer reviewer, you work to make health care better and safer for patients and families, as well as for those who work in the health care sector.

She notes that on the other side, you learn a lot from the organizations who are being surveyed.

“It’s an opportunity to learn from others in Canada and internationally,” she said.

Gustavson adds that a surveyor is also a great point of connection.

“If I’m in a centre that does work that I know one of our agencies would benefit from, I’ll often ask if it would be okay to connect them with someone that is interested in the type of work they are doing,” she says.

Gustavson notes that accreditation is important as it give organizations the opportunity to measure and assess the quality and safety of their services.

She adds that the accreditation process is also valuable as the surveyor provides an external review of an organization’s performance. “The surveyors are the external eye. They are objective and can come in to assess and support the organization in quality improvement.”

Gustavson says the impact of accreditation for patients and families is that they can have more confidence in the care that they are receiving, as they know that the organization has met a level of standards.

Gustavson adds that she enjoys being a surveyor because it allows her to work closely with others who are as passionate as she is about quality and safety.

“It’s really energizing,” adds Gustavson. “It’s a valuable experience, as it gives me a full picture of what is happening in health care across Canada and beyond. It’s nice to be able to contribute to that.”

She notes that the accreditation process has the biggest impact when it really means something to the organization that is being assessed.

“It can’t just be a check box experience,” Gustavson says. “They need to feel good about the work they are doing and the improvements they are making. They shouldn’t just be doing it to be accredited. They should be improving care because it’s the right thing to do.”

Do you want to help organizations improve the quality and safety of their care? Discover 5 reasons to be an AC surveyor.

You can also get in touch with AC’s surveyor team.