McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

330 new nursing graduates ready to enter the health care system

By Suzanne Morrison

Published: June 5, 2007
Nursing photo

When it comes to career paths, Beverley Thompson did an about-face — switching from designing, constructing and building as an engineer to the patient-centred world of bedside nursing.

This Thursday, (June 7) she will be one of 321 graduates receiving their bachelor of science in nursing (BScN) degrees from McMaster University's School of Nursing during convocation ceremonies at Hamilton Place. "I'm super excited to be a nurse and to be graduating. I feel nursing is where I belong," said Thompson, 28, whose home is in Kitchener, Ontario.

In addition to bachelor degrees, nine students will receive graduate degrees (six Masters students and three PhD students).

It wasn't so long ago that Thompson, armed with a business diploma from Sheridan College, worked in the engineering field for Bell Canada. It was her job to design fibre and cable lay-outs for subdivisions for a territory that stretched from Owen Sound to Lake Ontario.

But, health care was always important in her life. In high school, she traveled with a missions group to Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China where she worked with child prostitutes for three months. Yet, when she finished high school she had trouble choosing a career. She applied to various institutions and was accepted by all — from biology at Carleton University to chef school at Niagara College. Finally, she put all her acceptances in a pile, pulled one, and Sheridan's business program won.

However, a sudden trip to a hospital emergency department changed her mind and convinced her that her true aspirations were in nursing." I loved my job with Bell Canada, and the people I worked with, but I wanted more and to give back more."

Thompson attended McMaster's school of nursing Conestoga campus as a mature student and fell in love with bedside nursing, particularly in the intensive care unit (ICU).

This year's graduates are as passionate about their profession as Thompson and say they plan to ensure the nursing profession gains its rightful place in the health care system, both locally and globally.

This year's Valedictorian, Hamilton-born Tania Ahluwalia, 22, is looking to pursue a masters degree in international health but first intends to do a nursing internship overseas, possibly in a HIV/AIDS clinic in Uganda.

With another nursing graduate, Harpreet Dhillon, 21, of Stoney Creek, Ahluwalia co-founded UNICEF on the McMaster campus two years ago and now serves as a guest speaker for UNICEF. Dhillon is also exploring a future in international health nursing with plans to hone skills overseas then bring them back to Hamilton to help tackle poverty and homelessness here.

The convocation ceremony for the School of Nursing will take place Thursday, June 7 at 9.30 a.m. in the Great Hall at Hamilton Place, 50 Main Street West.

McMaster will grant degrees to 321 nurses from the McMaster-Mohawk-Conestoga Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) Program. The collaborative degree program, with students from McMaster University and Mohawk College of Applied Arts & Technology in Hamilton, and Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Kitchener, began in September, 2001.

The traditional Nursing Pinning Ceremony will follow at 1.30 p.m. in the Convention Centre. The Pinning Ceremony is a time-honoured nursing school tradition, dating back before the turn of the 20th century and marks a graduate's passage from student to practicing nurse.

During convocation, honourary doctor of laws degrees (LLD) will be conferred on Dorothy Hall, a pioneer in primary health care nursing, and Carolyn Milne, president and CEO of the Hamilton Community Foundation.

Hall, a long-time international nursing consultant with the World Health Organization (WHO), spent 26 years abroad pursuing her passion for nursing, advanced the role of nursing in primary health care in Canada and in countries such as Thailand, India, Denmark and Afghanistan. She was also instrumental in helping the Ontario government implement the concept of the primary health care nurse practitioner in the provincial health care system. Five years ago, the Dorothy C. Hall Chair in Primary Health Care Nursing was established at McMaster. Its focus is on education and research that supports community-based primary health care nursing.

Milne, a graduate of McMaster University, holds a Master's of Health Science Practice degree. She became president and CEO of the Hamilton Community Foundation in 1995. Prior to that, she had a 20-year career in health care as a nurse in mental health and palliative care, an educator at Mohawk College and McMaster University and administrator of the former Halton branch of the Victorian Order of Nurses.

Since Milne joined the Hamilton Community Foundation, assets have grown to $108 million from $10 million with annual grants growing to $5 million from $400,000. She has participated in the Transatlantic Community Foundation Network and served on the board of Community Foundations of Canada. In Hamilton, Milne has served on numerous boards and is a Paul Harris Fellow.

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