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WHO Year of the Nurse – de Souza Nightingale Series – Stephanie Ouellette

February 20, 2020

Introducing our second Nightingale series feature, Stephanie Ouellette from the Jack Ady Cancer Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta:

  1. Looking at all your accomplishments throughout your career, if you could go back in time what advice would you give to yourself after your first year on the job?
  2. I would tell myself that the “sky is the limit”! Nursing is so diverse and there are many paths a new nurse can choose to go down. I would say, don’t be afraid to experience these different areas of nursing. Ask to shadow for a day in the chemotherapy day care unit. Its only by experiencing different areas that you can then choose the one area that truly calls to your heart. Once you have chosen your type of nursing then become an expert in that field. It took me almost half of my career to learn this, but it was worth the wait because I absolutely love Oncology Nursing!

    Another important piece of advice I would give to new nurses, is to realize we are all leaders. I used to think only managers or nursing supervisors were leaders but after becoming specialized in Oncology I found I am a leader too. I can mentor new nurses, I can advocate for better patient care, I can make recommendations for a safer working environment, and I can encourage others to continue their specialty nursing education. Being excited and proud of what you do can cause others to join in!

  3. A career in nursing is diverse and nurses touch the lives of many including patients, family members and their peers within the interprofessional team. Is there an interaction that has been most memorable to you or what is the most rewarding part of your job?
  4. I have had many memorable interactions with my patients over the years, but there is one patient that will always be close to my heart. I had been taking care of Tom (not his real name) for many months in the chemo unit. Tom had metastatic colon cancer and was having chemotherapy every two weeks. Every time Tom would come in for a visit, I would learn more about his life. I learned that Tom had a great love for golf, he was happily married for over 50 years, his family had called him “Bunny” ever since he was a young boy because he was always “on the move”. Tom was retired from the army and had been stationed in many places around the world during his service. His army stories were quite vivid and exciting to hear. We found a shared love for traveling and we would spend hours taking about the places we had traveled to or places we would love to go to. Tom was a trooper when it came to his chemotherapy treatments. He never complained about side effects, but you could tell that he was becoming tired with having to come in for treatments. He would say that his cancer was interfering with his golf game! Tom gave a good fight against his cancer, but he passed away two years after we had first met. His wife came in to visit the staff after his passing and told us that having such a comradery with the chemo nurses helped Tom get through his treatments. I would say to Tom, that meeting him and learning about his life helped me become a better nurse. Sometimes being a good listener is the best medicine we can provide as nurses.

  5. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Share with us a picture that you feel best depicts your profession, your team or your work environment and tell us why that picture is meaningful to you.
  6. I took this picture while out hiking in the summer of 2018. It reminds me of when I first began working in Oncology. The learning curve is like hiking straight up the side of a mountain and while there were many times I felt like quitting and turning back around, I persevered to the top. What a reward and view once you reach the top of that mountain! I tell many new nurses who come into this specialty, to not give up during their training, because once you get up and over that mountain, it’s only then do you realize your accomplishments.

WHO Year of the Nurse – de Souza Nightingale Series – Janny Proba

February 4, 2020 |

2020 marks the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. Her legacy as the founder of modern nursing continues to influence nurses and improve patient care worldwide.

To celebrate this anniversary the World Health Organization has declared 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. Taking inspiration from her moniker as The Lady with the Lamp, de Souza plans to celebrate this occasion by shining a spotlight on nursing champions and encouraging the development of future champions.

Our Nightingale series will showcase de Souza Nurses as they share with us some of the secrets to their success. We asked them to answer two questions and send us a picture that is meaningful to them.

Introducing Janny Proba from Hamilton Health Sciences

  1. Looking at all your accomplishments throughout your career, if you could go back in time what advice would you give to yourself after in first few years on the job?
  2. I think that the most important thing to do is to say yes to new opportunities, particularly if they make you nervous. There are so many ways for an oncology nurse to impact patient care and to advocate for evidence-informed practices. I would tell my younger self that it’s ok to try new things. Being new to the profession doesn’t diminish your value and that everyone has something unique they can offer. I would also tell my younger self to not be afraid of the emotional connections that can be made with patients. Showing emotion by empathizing with patients does not make you weak or betray your inexperience. The shared experiences will only strengthen your ability to care for and advocate for others.

  3. A career in nursing is diverse and nurses touch the lives of many including patients, family members and their peers within the interprofessional team. Is there an interaction that has been most memorable to you or what is the most rewarding part of your job?
  4. Early in my career, I cared for a female patient with advanced ovarian cancer. She was a nurse herself and had the kindest soul. This patient was encouraging and understood that I was a new nurse. I remember my hands fumbled constantly with her PEG tube and sweat would bead on my upper lip whenever I had to perform venipuncture. There was a hesitancy in all my nursing actions and I was, by all accounts, a green nurse. But she put me at ease. She was the first patient I had cared for – a nurse herself – who recognized my fears and uncertainty but encouraged me to slow down. She taught me the art of listening. As someone without an immediate family to visit her, she spent the time to teach me how to connect with patients on a deeper level. Her inevitable death was my first one and I cried. It made me question whether nursing (especially oncology nursing) was the right field for me. My practice was forever changed and it has influenced the way I approach new nurses and how I deliver nursing care to these vulnerable populations.

    For my colleagues working in oncology, I see a lot of passion and pride in this specialty. Cancer affects so many of us in our personal lives, yet there’s not too many nurses who can do what we do. Despite the emotional burden and challenges of caring for patients and families during their darkest moments, oncology nurses are resilient. We rely on each other and we truly are a team. It’s a profound privilege to walk the journey with a patient, from the anticipatory phase preceding a devastating diagnosis, to the uncertainty of remission or progression, to the elation of reaching the survivorship phase, and sometimes —to the finality of death and the aftermath for loved ones left behind. As oncology nurses, we can impact the delivery of care, the utilization of resources and services, assist with the development of processes, contribute to the scholarship and advancing the field of oncology nursing, and help patients and loved ones navigate the cancer system. This isn’t done in isolation – we know that patients benefit from a palliative approach to their care and it’s important to acknowledge the value that having a strong interprofessional team brings. I feel incredibly blessed to work alongside the talented people that I do.

  5. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Share with us a picture that you feel best depicts your profession, your team or your work environment and tell us why that picture is meaningful to you.
  6. The Chemo Journey Bell hangs in both our chemo suite and in the radiation department of the Juravinski Cancer Centre. Typically, bells represent the beginning and the end of a journey or event. They’ve been used to help expand the mind and consciousness, or communicate by announcing celebratory news, or to announce a passing or mourning of a loved one. I think its bittersweet connotations best symbolize oncology nursing. There’s a lot of sorrow that can be found in our field, but there’s a lot of joy that can be seen in these moments too. The presence of the bell in oncology settings can be controversial to some, but the joy seen in patients who’ve been fortunate to ring one is remarkable. Its ringing signals that a celebratory milestone had been reached. Oncology nurses are a lot like this bell: doing what we do best – day or night- to be a part of the journey with a patient.

2020 New Year’s Message

January 7, 2020 |

A year can be described as being 12 months, 52 weeks or 365 days, but a New Year can be described as a celebration, a fresh start or an opportunity. 2020 can be all of that and more. More, because this leap year we are given an extra day to do something new, bold or enriching. Consider enrolling in one of our new treatment focused courses this year. We take great pride in consistently providing current up to date curriculum and learning opportunities. Your thirst for knowledge keeps us on our toes and drives innovation. As a result, more and more healthcare professionals are turning to de Souza for lifelong learning and skills development courses. In 2020, we will have new courses for a variety of professions.

This year is the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. Her legacy as the founder of modern nursing continues to influence nurses and improve patient care worldwide. To celebrate this anniversary the World Health Organization has declared 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. We plan to celebrate this occasion through our de Souza Nightingale Series where we will showcase nurses who have demonstrated great leadership and ask them to share with us some the secrets to their success.

Let’s leap forward this year, embrace the possibilities and build on greatness.

Executive Director, Dr. Mary Jane Esplen
Mary Jane Esplen's Signature

Warm Holiday Wishes from de Souza Institute

December 19, 2019 |

As the days pass and we bring a close to 2019, the end of the year gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on all our partnerships and interactions with our learners, faculty and staff. 2019 was a remarkable year with many advancements in treatment and hard work on our courses to roll out … Read more

Congratulations to Dr. Mary Jane Esplen, recipient of the Henry Durost Award for Excellence in Creative Professional Activity, University of Toronto.

November 28, 2019 |

Dr. Esplen is recognized for her accomplishment in a leadership role in the Department of Psychiatry, UofT as well as in the de Souza Institute at UHN. She developed an evaluation framework for the Creative Professional Activity (CPA) and championed CPA as an academic pursuit and career choice, in her role as Vice-Chair, Basic and … Read more

Meet Mark Kocsis – St. Joseph’s first-ever de Souza Nurse Associate

October 24, 2019

The last few years in Mark Kocsis’ life have been busy, to say the least. Kocsis graduated from Ryerson University’s nursing program in June 2017, and by November of that year, had begun his career on the Medicine, Oncology and Palliative Care (6M) unit at St. Joseph’s Health Centre. All the while, Kocsis was fueling … Read more