Published: March 20, 2016
Graduated from the McMaster BScN program in 2011.
I’m working as a nurse at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) on the Multi-organ Transplant Unit. I’ve been here since 2011. I’m also doing my Masters in Nursing and Nurse Practitioner at Ryerson University part-time (the combined program), which I started in September 2015.
How I got here:
After graduating, I worked for two months as a camp nurse at Camp Trillium with children who were oncology patients. In September, I got hired at Toronto SickKids. I did a “new grad” program with them plus their SickKids training. It was an 8 or 9 month training process.
Why I chose McMaster:
There were 3 reasons: Problem-based learning (PBL), international placement opportunities and a strong science component to the program. PBL was something that appealed to me in terms of how I learned. The PBL environment allows for engaging discussions. I’m not someone who sits in a lecture hall and learns. Mac also presented opportunities for an international placement. I did a placement in Australia. There is also a strong science component in the program and I love science so that was another thing that excited me.
How my experience at Mac has helped me:
When I started at SickKids, there was a lot of clinical practice I’d never seen, but McMaster helped me to develop strong critical thinking skills. They also really instilled in their students that individuals can’t know everything, but if you don’t know something, then you need to find the resources to help you educate yourself on that gap of knowledge. Those are both transferable skills that have helped me succeed. PBL makes you think of the patient as the centre with different aspects (mental, physical, psychosocial) that are affecting the patient. Even today, when I look at my patient, I look at them as a whole and I often use PBL techniques. If I have knowledge gaps, then I try to fill those gaps or educate myself, whether it be a diagnosis or a patient’s social situation. I feel all of my skills were developed as a base or foundation from McMaster.
During my fourth year clinical placement I had the opportunity to engage in an international experience, where I worked in remote indigenous communities in Australia. While working with primarily indigenous populations with a focus on primary health care, I saw firsthand the debilitating effects of social inequality on health such as poor housing, unemployment, social exclusion and the lack of education. This eye opening experience challenged me both on a personal and professional level. Working with limited resources and with individuals who had completely different values on health compared to western society posed as a challenge. In this environment I had to adapt my care to the specific needs and beliefs of my patients in order to benefit their health. The time spent in these communities taught me the importance of culturally competent care and provided me the chance to develop these important skills.
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