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The nurses shaping tomorrow: celebrating mentorship and education in nursing

National Nursing Week is May 6-12 and to celebrate we’re highlighting nurses across PHSA programs and services who support education and mentorship and the nurses who have benefited from their guidance.
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​May 6 – 12 is National Nursing Week, an opportunity to highlight dedicated nurses across PHSA and the diverse roles that nurses play within our health care system. This year the Canadian Nurses Association National Nursing Week theme is: Changing Lives. Shaping Tomorrow. The theme recognizes the contributions of nurses, as educators, have on shaping the next generation of health care professionals. In addition to providing high-quality, anti-racist and culturally safe care, their empathy towards patients and colleagues is recognized and appreciated.

"Nurses take on various roles, but their impact as educators shines brightly," says David Waller, executive director, Professional Practice for Nursing and Allied Health. "As part of nuts a maht (we are one), they continue to embody eyhh slaxin (good medicine) in the face of challenges while guiding the development of future generations of nurses."

As we celebrate National Nursing Week, we recognize the invaluable contributions of our nursing colleagues who support education and mentorship across all PHSA programs and services as well as the nurses who have benefited from their guidance.

Paula Mackey, BC Cancer

Paula Mackey, a recent nursing graduate working at BC Cancer – Kelowna, navigated the complexities of beginning her career amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the limitations on hands-on clinical training during her education, Paula embarked on her nursing journey in oncology, recognizing the paramount importance of practical patient care in this field.

Portrait of Paula MackeyStepping into her role as a new graduate nurse in systemic therapy, Paula quickly realized the invaluable guidance provided by nurse educators at BC Cancer. These mentors played a crucial role in bridging the gaps between her theoretical knowledge and practical skills, offering support in essential procedures and ensuring adherence to best practice standards. Grateful for the extra hands-on skills practice and mentorship received, Paula is determined to apply these insights to patient care, striving to deliver compassionate nursing services. Acknowledging the inherent challenges of being a new nurse, Paula finds support in the expertise of her mentors, whose dedication not only strengthens her clinical abilities but also deepens her commitment to the nursing profession.

"At BC Cancer – Kelowna, clinical nurse educators (CNEs) provide individualized orientation pathways for each new hire. Clinical nurse educators build upon foundational oncology education knowledge and specialized skills in a stable, consistent and predictable manner to help new grads transition to their role with ease and ongoing support."

Doreen Tu, BC Centre for Disease Control

Doreen Tu is a Registered Nurse at the BC Centre for Disease Control's Tuberculosis Clinic.

Portrait of Doreen TuWith a background as a Licensed Practical Nurse since 2013, Doreen finds fulfilment in advocating for clients and empowering them to make informed healthcare decisions. Drawing from her previous operational leadership role, Doreen embraced the opportunity to become a nurse mentor, spearheading educational initiatives aimed at enhancing client care quality. Her efforts bore fruit as her team received the prestigious 2023 BC Quality Award and the 2021 PHSA+ Award, underscoring the significant impact their work had on the clients and families of British Columbia. Doreen's commitment to mentorship and quality improvement reflects her dedication to fostering excellence in healthcare delivery.

"I am passionate about lifelong learning, continuing education, and improving competencies. I am committed to learning, adapting, and mentoring others to improve quality of client care."

Flávia Mandic, BC Children's Hospital

Flávia Mandic is the program director for Specialized Pediatric Medical Services at BC Children's Hospital. She has dedicated her career to nursing since graduating from university in Brazil in 1995. With over two decades of experience, Flávia's journey in nursing began in Canada in 2001 as a registered nurse.

Portrait of Flavia MandicShe finds profound fulfilment in the impact she makes on her patient's lives, citing it as one of the most rewarding aspects of her profession. Moreover, Flávia is drawn to the versatility within nursing, enjoying the ability to specialize in various areas and transition between roles throughout her career. Her passion for mentorship stems from a retired Internationally Educated Nurse originally from Tanzania, Esme Franklin, and the guidance she received from Christy Hay as a new manager at BC Children's Hospital. Inspired by her own experiences, Flávia has been mentoring other Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) who are undergoing their revalidation process to work as nurses in B.C. With a deep-seated commitment to mentorship, Flavia envisions continuing her support for IENs even after her retirement, aspiring to become a consultant for aspiring nurses.

"Mentorship can be such a positive influence to guide someone's steps and to give them hope when they're in a difficult situation. Learning from someone else's experience can also guide one's own career path. If I had a mentor when I first started working as a nurse in Canada, I would have pursued a Master's degree decades earlier. We are stronger together."

Gauri Kumar, BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services

Gauri Kumar, a registered nurse with six years of experience, shines brightly in her role at the Heartwood Centre for Women, and will be joining the Families In Recovery (FIR) program in July. To her, nursing is more than just a profession; it's a heartfelt journey of building connections and fostering hope.

Portrait of Gauri KumarGauri loves the opportunity to form meaningful, therapeutic relationships with her patients, guiding them through challenging times and celebrating their victories along the path to recovery. She cherishes the moments where she can make a meaningful difference in someone's life, enhancing their quality of life with compassionate care. Understanding the invaluable role of mentorship in nursing, Gauri reflects on the guidance and support she received throughout her career. Mentorship provided her with a nurturing environment to grow, ask questions, and overcome obstacles, empowering her to blossom into the confident and skilled nurse she is today. She celebrates her journey from a nursing student to a seasoned caregiver, embracing each step with grace and joy.

"Reflecting on the role of nurses as educators and mentors, it is needless to say that there is a leader and educator in every nurse. By providing guidance and mentorship based on our knowledge and lived clinical experience, we can empower the next generation of nurses to be well-equipped to navigate an evolving health care system while embodying integrity, empathy, advocacy, and commitment to providing excellent patient care."

Julia Caryk, BC Renal

Julia Caryk is a renal clinical nurse educator with over 20 years of nursing experience. Reflecting on her nursing journey, Julia finds fulfilment in the unique ability nurses possess to cultivate relationships with those under their care. She cherishes the privilege of standing alongside patients and their families during moments of challenge and celebration, finding purpose in providing support and compassion.

Portrait of Julia CarykJulia's passion for mentorship and education stems from her innate joy in witnessing the "Aha" moments of new nursing staff learning and sharing new skills. She thrives on the opportunity to leverage her creativity and resourcefulness in developing educational resources and clinical tools to support teams during critical moments. Actively involved in nursing leadership at both local and provincial levels, Julia recognizes the importance of fostering safe patient care through improved access to best-practice resources, a role she embraces wholeheartedly.

"I believe that our hard-working nursing teams are now, more than ever, in need of as much support and expertise from clinical leadership (both informal and formal) in promoting skilled, engaged, and passionate nurses.  We need to advocate for all members of our health care teams who are courageously learning new clinical skills and tackling the challenges of new clinical roles, despite the pressures of working within a often-stressed health care system."

Brian Franco, BC Transplant

Brian Franco is a clinical practice lead for Surgical Recovery Specialists at BC Transplant and brings over two decades of nursing experience to his role. Embracing the dynamic nature of healthcare, Brian finds joy in the constant opportunities for growth and development within the field. He believes that each day presents new challenges and learning experiences, fostering a culture of innovation and adaptability among nurses.

Portrait of Brian FrancoRecognizing the importance of mentorship in navigating the complexities of healthcare, Brian sees himself as a guiding force for new team members, providing them with the support and knowledge needed to excel in critical clinical situations. For Brian, being a mentor goes beyond offering advice; it involves active listening, empathy, and personalized guidance tailored to individual learning needs. He values the reciprocal nature of mentorship, acknowledging that both mentor and mentee benefit from the exchange of insights and experiences. Through his role as a mentor, Brian aims to empower the next generation of nurses to thrive in their roles, deliver exceptional care, and contribute positively to the ever-evolving healthcare landscape.

"Mentorship is a powerful catalyst for positive change within nursing and in the healthcare industry. By investing in the development of future leaders and caregivers, mentors contribute to a culture of excellence, innovation, and continuous improvement that benefits patients, healthcare organizations, and society as a whole."

Jessica Yoon, BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre

Jessica Yoon brings ten years of nursing expertise to her role as a nurse in the pre-anesthesia clinic in Gynecologic Surgical Services, where her passion for interdisciplinary collaboration shines.

Portrait of Jessica YoonFor Jessica, nursing is about being part of a unified team dedicated to exceptional patient care. She finds joy in the diverse community of patients she serves, seeing it as a reflection of the vibrant world around her. Embracing her role as a mentor within her program, Jessica thrives on sharing her knowledge and skills with fellow nurses. To her, mentorship is not only about teaching but also about fostering connections among colleagues, strengthening teamwork, and ultimately enhancing patient care. Through mentorship, Jessica gains a broader perspective on her impact within the patient journey, reinforcing the importance of each role in delivering comprehensive healthcare.

"Mentorship in any profession is invaluable. In any role you step into, whether you're a new or seasoned nurse, there is a learning curve, and having a mentor, someone to take you under their wing and support you, can make all the difference. Welcoming nurses into a program or role and being willing to share your knowledge and skills with them is invaluable and makes such a difference – not only for the nurse, but also for current and future patients. I feel so grateful for the nurses who mentored me."

Ali de Wit, Stroke Services BC

Portrait of Ali de WitAli de Wit is a seasoned clinical nurse specialist with Stroke Services BC with an 11-year tenure as a registered nurse. One of her favourite things about nursing is the diversity of roles and experiences it can bring. She feels extremely fortunate to have had such a diverse career and been able to explore so many different areas to uncover what she is most passionate about.

Ali's focus on stroke care began eight years ago, and in that time her passion has grown for advancing best practice care.  Her priority is optimizing and disseminating evidence-based stroke education across the province, striving to enhance patient outcomes and quality of care throughout B.C. Ali's journey exemplifies the profound impact of mentorship and continued learning in nursing, driving her to pay forward the guidance and support she received throughout her career.

"I think as educators, we have an ability to provide nurses with the tools and resources they need to help them do their jobs well. In my experience, most nurses are eager for education and learning opportunities - finding time to do that amongst clinical care is the hard part! We are in a position to provide education in a way that not only fosters the provision of best practice care, but also inspires, motivates, and aligns clinicians with PHSA's vision, values, and Coast Salish Teachings."

Beyond their roles as caregivers, advocates, and innovators, nurses play a crucial role as educators, shaping the minds and skills of future generations of health-care professionals. Through their knowledge, experience, and mentorship, nurses inspire and empower the next wave of nurses to make a difference in the lives of patients and communities.

As we recognize National Nursing Week, we want to thank nurses for their empathy and continued dedication to providing high-quality, culturally sage and person-centered care. Your presence, understanding, and dedication to patient, client and community well-being are truly appreciated by all who receive our care.

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