Celebrating Black Excellence in the McGill Nursing Community

Live 2021

From left to right: (Top row) Beverley Tracey John, Yasmin Khan, Kimani Daniel (Bottom row) Gaelle Lubin, Minnie Horace & Tenkarra Punnett

In honour of Black History Month, the Ingram School of Nursing (ISoN) is celebrating some of the inspiring Black nurses, leaders, educators, researchers and students across the McGill Nursing Community. Beverley Tracey John, Yasmin Khan, Kimani Daniel, Gaelle Lubin, Minnie Horace and Tenkarra Punnett took the time to answer some questions about their backgrounds, achievements, and much more.

Beverley Tracey John
Nurse Leader – Faculty Appointed
Director of Nursing at CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal

Why did you choose to become a nurse?

I was adopted at the age of 18 months by a 42 year-old woman who could not have children of her own, but desperately wanted to be a mother. She came to Canada at the age of 37 and trained to be an operating-room (OR) technician. I spent my childhood running the hallways of hospitals. I think it was the power of suggestion!

What is your current role?

I am the Director of Nursing for the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal (CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal).

What is your proudest achievement in nursing?

It is hard to choose just one deemed proudest moment in my career. It has been an amalgamation of many moments that have made my career so rewarding, of which I am very proud. As a nurse you can save a life, help heal the wounded, accompany a human being during the last hours of his life and help a child take its first breath. There is no greater privilege or achievement than maintaining and protecting human dignity.

I have been a nurse for over 30 years. I have been learning every day of those years, and continue to do so. Science is forever evolving. Nursing is a profession without end. It is not lost on me—as the only person of colour in my position in the province—that I may inspire others to one day be in my position and hopefully surpass me. This might be my proudest achievement!

Yasmin Khan
Alumni – Assistant Head Nurse Manager and Exceptional Nurse Preceptor

Why did you choose to become a nurse?

As a child, I was fascinated with the hospital setting. My asthmatic brother had many hospital visits and admissions in his childhood and, as his sibling, I spent a considerable amount of time at the children’s hospital. I used to roam the units looking up at the staff, in awe of the doctors and nurses buzzing around. I remember getting lost in the old Royal Victoria Hospital as my grandfather was undergoing his dialysis treatments. I just wandered off, looking for a new adventure, and ended up on the women’s pavilion. My parents weren’t too impressed with me for wandering off, but I knew it was an attraction to the clinical environment that called to me that day. By age ten, I had a growing interest in the human body, biology and the sciences. This led to me enrolling in Health Sciences in CEGEP, and then into Physiology as an undergraduate student. After my graduation in 2005, I realized that my passion for health sciences married with my natural aspiration to want to help care for others was directing me to a world of great opportunities… in nursing! The more I learned about the nursing profession and the many facets and dimensions of nursing, I truly believed it was my calling. And I am forever grateful that I made that decision to follow my instinct to pursue nursing.

What is your current role?

My first nursing job was as a nurse clinician on a neurosurgical unit at the Montreal Neurological Hospital (The Neuro) in 2009. I had fallen in love with the neurosciences during an internship at the The Neuro earlier during the course of my nursing studies. I have remained on this unit ever since. Last summer, I took a step towards new challenges for personal and professional growth. As a result, I am now an Assistant Nurse Manager of four Neurosciences and Stroke Units at the The Neuro. The realm of nursing offers many possibilities for personal growth, not to mention for health promotion and overall better patient outcomes.

What is your proudest achievement in nursing?

Honestly, it is hard to choose just one proud moment in my nursing career so far. My most significant achievement was just becoming a nurse. Passing the licensing exam and attaining my professional nursing license was a great achievement. That was one big hurdle that most nurses will remember. Over the years, I have had many proud achievements and moments. From collaborating with patients and families to becoming a certified neuroscience nurse by the Canadian Nursing Association. Achievements in nursing come in all sizes. For me, I am most fulfilled when I am able to step back and see how my role and actions as a nurse and team member have assisted in promoting health, improving quality of life and healing of others.

Kimani Daniel
ISoN Faculty Lecturer
Member of the McGill Black Faculty & Staff Caucus

Why did you choose to become a nurse?

The easy way to answer this is to say it was in my blood! Several family members are nurses in various specialties, including my mom, who was a psychiatric nurse at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute for over 30 years. For much of my life, I listened to rich stories of how powerful nursing is and how nurses’ scientific knowledge and compassion can have an impact on human healing. But nursing wasn’t my chosen profession until I discovered the Direct-Entry Master’s Program at the Ingram School of Nursing at McGill and decided that this was who I really was. I know it sounds dramatic, but when I found a profession that so easily matched my personal values, it was a perfect fit.

What is your current role?

I am currently a full-time faculty lecturer at the Ingram School of Nursing (ISoN), as well as academic coordinator for acute care for ISoN’s Clinical Partnerships Office. I enjoy engaging with students as I coordinate clinical courses and support them as they gain clinical knowledge and skills, especially given the unprecedented realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is your proudest achievement in nursing?

In my role as clinical nurse specialist in maternal-child health at the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, I was the site lead for the quality improvement program, MOREOB. Along with an amazing interprofessional team, I organized workshops, critical-care simulations, and other activities with the aim of improving patient safety in obstetrics. I am proud that we were able to overcome many challenges towards the common goal of better outcomes for young families.

Gaelle Lubin
ISoN Nursing Student – Nurse Entry
Member of the Anti-racism Group at ISoN

Why did you choose to pursue nursing?

I chose to go into nursing because I want to have medical skills that will allow me to help my community. In 2010, I lived through an earthquake in Haiti, and I saw many people injured and die. At the time I was a child, but I still felt extremely powerless. I vowed that one day I would have the knowledge and the ability to help people around me if I found myself in a similar situation. I hope I never have to live through a natural disaster again, but my dream is to work in Haiti, and help provide medical care to those who need it. Being a nurse will give me the ability to work closely with patients and provide that one-on-one care that I wish I had been able to provide when I was younger.

How do you envision yourself in your future nursing career?  

When I graduate from nursing school, I envision myself working in a hospital setting in Montreal for a few years to hone my nursing skills. My ultimate life goal is to work with a non-profit organization in Haiti to help train and prepare nurses including licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), Master’s-prepared nurses (MSNs), and nurse practitioners (NPs), with the hope of having a healthcare system in which everyone in my community has access to primary-care services. There are so many services that are taken for granted when living in a developed country, to which many other people around the world do not have access. I hope to play my part and use the knowledge I have acquired from my nursing education, and my experience working in the medical field in Canada, to contribute to the work that is being done in my home country.

What is your proudest achievement in nursing so far?

I have not worked as a nurse yet because I am currently enrolled in the Direct-Entry Graduate Nursing Program. As a first-generation college graduate, I could not imagine I would get the opportunity to obtain a graduate degree. Therefore, being enrolled in this program is my proudest achievement in nursing so far. I hope, as my career develops, and as I keep practicing nursing, I will have many more achievements of which to be proud.

Minnie Horace
PhD Student

Why did you choose to become a nurse?

I chose to become a nurse because I wanted to make a difference not only in the lives of my patients and their families but in the lives of everyone I met as I journeyed and practiced as a nurse.

How do you envision yourself in your future nursing career? 

I envision myself continuing to make a difference in all I do as a nurse educator and researcher. After completing my doctoral studies at McGill, I would like to contribute to strengthening the nursing and midwifery educational and research systems in Liberia and in Africa.

What is your proudest achievement in nursing?

It is so difficult to point at one achievement for which I am proudest. For me, the smallest and simplest achievements related to my role as a nurse were some of my proudest. As an acute-care nurse, one of my proudest achievements was being recognized as “Best preceptor in a healthcare system” in Houston, Texas. Another of my proudest achievements as a public-health nurse, was responding to Ebola and opening and managing two Ebola treatment units in Liberia. As a nurse educator, one of my proudest achievements was developing an evidence-based educational program for nursing students at Tubman University in Liberia, to help them prepare for the national state board exams. The first class of 10 nursing students all passed the state board exam.

Tenkarra Punnett
BNI alumni

Why did you choose to become a nurse?

As a child, I was always fascinated with the body and how it worked. And growing up in a Caribbean household, I was taught the value of community and the importance of taking care of your neighbour. My love for physiology and the satisfaction I get from being in the midst of my community drew me to nursing as a profession.

What is your current role?

Nursing has given me many personally satisfying opportunities. Currently I work in three different nursing roles. I work at the Jewish General Hospital as an orthopedic nurse in the orthopedic day clinic where we see pre-operative, trauma-fracture and post-operative patients. In this role I can use my administrative ability in a manner that is not just confined to paperwork. I also work on the orthopedic unit as a bedside nurse. Most recently, because of the pandemic, I started telenursing. This helps me channel my passion for working intimately with the human body while still connecting with the people in my community.

What is your proudest achievement in nursing?

My proudest achievement in nursing is having the opportunity to teach for McGill as a nursing clinical instructor. As a nursing student at McGill, I never had a Black nursing professor or clinical instructor. I am a human of diverse origins (African, East Indian, European and Aboriginal to name a few) and I think this heritage gives me an ability to positively interact with individuals from various ethnic backgrounds. This was missing in my training as there were no role models with whom I could closely identify. In fact, I had to reach out to one of my colleagues to ask whether or not I was mistaken with my recollection of the McGill nursing faculty while we were at school. My colleague could not recall having any Black nursing lecturers or clinical instructors while pursuing their nursing studies at McGill.

Given that so many Blacks have been in the nursing profession for so many years it begs the question as to why more of us have not reached the professional heights to be able to share our knowledge and expertise. This is why representation in healthcare is crucial, for how can our society avoid or eliminate incidences of discrimination in healthcare if our healthcare professionals are not taught in an inclusive environment? It is encouraging that the Ingram School of Nursing at McGill University has made efforts for Black History Month to showcase the experiences and voices of black nurses in the McGill community. My hope for the future is that McGill employs more people of diverse backgrounds to teach the next generation of nurses.

 

 

 

February 18, 2021

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