By Ryan Catherine Breithaupt
McGill’s School of Nursing is at the forefront of education and service by continually adapting to rapidly changing healthcare needs. “I think one of the most inspirational things about the program itself has been the dedication that the Faculty has shown in transforming it in response to the needs of both the student and the health care sector,” says Andrea Wilmot, a 2011 graduate of the Master’s of Science (Applied) (Msc(A)) program at the School of Nursing. Wilmot joined fellow graduates at the recent Nursing Convocation Reception, honouring their exceptional achievements.

Dr. Hélène Ezer, Director of the School of Nursing, gave a toast during the event and shared some heartfelt words with graduates about this exciting transitional period in their lives. “You’ve taken yourselves a quantum leap forward. There are many things ahead and the opportunities are enormous. Never lose the confidence that you have in yourselves now.”

Dr. Hélène Ezer, Director of McGill Faculty of Medicine's School of Nursing. Photo: Paul Fournier

“It’s a great time to be getting into nursing,” said Dr. Ezer. “The respect for the profession is growing, not only among the public, but among other health professionals.”

Andrea Wilmot is one of the three outgoing presidents of the Colleagueship, the Nursing Master’s Student Association. The Colleagueship serves as a network for academics, employment and social activities for the students. “We’ve all come a long way in our time here. We’ve transformed our lives and we’ve transformed the program in which we study,” said Wilmot during the reception to her fellow graduates. “Now we are moving beyond the university realm, and beginning to develop our own nursing careers. Let’s remember that no matter what we know, or think we know, there is always more to learn. We are always going to be learners.”
Andrea Wilmot, 2011 graduate of the Master’s of Science (Applied) (Msc(A)) program at McGill Faculty of Medicine's School of Nursing. Photo: Paul Fournier

For Wilmot, maintaining a solid network throughout the program has always been important. “I would not have come this far without the friends that I have here. To anyone who is embarking on this kind of journey [graduate studies], I would say not to underestimate the importance of the relationships and the support you get from the people around you.” She also praised the Faculty’s ability to listen and take into account the needs of students and of the industry, “They’ve taken the time to hear what we need and to really change the program in response to what we said.”

Emma Jones, Class of 2011 Valedictorian and graduate of the Bachelor’s of Nursing program. Photo: Owen Egan

In addition to the graduating Masters, Graduate Diploma and Doctoral students, this year’s convocation also included undergraduate students, fifty-seven of which were part of the BN (I) program. “The BN students, who were in the Integration option of the BN program, are all licensed nurses,” explains Margie Gabriel, Administrative Assistant for the School of Nursing. “It is quite common that they would be working part time as nurses during their studies,” she adds. These are students who have experienced on–site the realities of a rapidly evolving profession.

Emma Jones, Class of 2011 Valedictorian and graduate of the Bachelor’s of Nursing program, is a testament to the program’s success as she, along with many of her fellow graduates, has already been putting her education to good use. She currently applies her skills within the CLSC de la Montagne network and she knows through her experiences that the opportunities for nursing graduates are endless. “The scope of nursing expands as you go out into the community and I’m really enjoying that aspect of it,” she states. While studying, Jones had worked part-time at the Royal Victoria emergency and then full-time during the summers. “After the year of Community Nursing at McGill, I just fell in love with the field,” she says.
Krikor Oskerijian and Jerrica McKinnon-Driscoll, two graduates of the BN (I) program who received different prizes for their outstanding academic accomplishments (Krikor, the Altshuler Prize; Jerrica, the Pearson Education in Canada Book Prize), stress the importance of perseverance and hard work. “The first few weeks are very tough. You might want to quit, but don’t; it pays off,” Krikor states. He is currently working in the pharmaceutical industry and plans to return to McGill to obtain a Master’s degree. Jerrica, who is already employed as a nurse at the Royal Victoria’s Critical Care Unit, echoes his remarks in some parting words she offers to students who are currently in the program or who are considering enrolling, “Nursing is tough, it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the end.”
Congratulations to the 2011 School of Nursing graduates!
Krikor Oskerijian (l) and Jerrica McKinnon-Driscoll(r), graduates of the BN (I) program. Photo: Paul Fournier