McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Nursing graduate purses career in cancer care

By Suzanne Morrison
Published: June 12, 2009
Chelsea MacDougall
Chelsea MacDougall

Chelsea MacDougall isn’t one to sit around and do nothing when bad news hits.

MacDougall, 21, who will receive her BScN degree from McMaster University’s school of nursing today at Hamilton Place, still remembers how difficult it was when she and her family learned both her grandfather and uncle had been diagnosed with different types of cancer.

"That had a huge impact," she remembers.  "It was the first time my family had been really affected by an illness.  It opened my eyes and I decided to get involved in health care."

Originally from Charlottetown, P.E.I., MacDougall decided to become a nurse, selecting McMaster "because of the excellent reputation of its nursing program."

During her years at McMaster, she has been committed to helping the McMaster arm of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay For Life — first as a volunteer and then, for the past two years, as chair of the event managing a 16-member planning committee team.

The relay involves teams of 10 people who participate in a 12-hour, non-competitive relay where participants take turns walking the track throughout the night, ensuring one team member is always on the track. Teams consist of students, faculty, community members, families and friends with special ceremonies celebrating survivorship and honouring those who lost their battle with cancer.

Under MacDougall’s leadership, participation climbed to almost 650 individuals from 500. "It’s been great to see it grow as an event," she said, crediting the committee’s decision to reach out to faculties beyond health sciences and using posters, Facebook and information sessions to garner more participants.

Following graduation, MacDougall has a job in Vancouver — where her family now lives — with the British Columbia Cancer Agency’s medical oncology in-patient unit and hopes to join up with Vancouver’s Relay for Life.

Ultimately, she plans to become an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner  which will see her head back to university to earn a combined Masters of Nursing and Nurse Practitioner degree. In this capacity, she will manage patients across all health settings, including the acutely and critically ill patients.

At this year’s school of nursing convocation, 370 graduates will receive their undergraduate nursing degrees.

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