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Nurses Week celebrating the care and compassion of multiple generations

Pat Culhane on her 2018 trip to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. Submitted Photo

By Evan Doherty [1]

BELLEVILLE – When a young Pat Culhane witnessed a nurse caring for her grandfather, she knew that caring for people was destined to be her life’s path.

Culhane is one of two nurses QNet News spoke to as part of Nurses’ Week. We found a long time nurse and a young woman about to start out in her career and talked to them about nursing, its importance and its future.

Pat Culhane graduated the Belleville General Hospital School of Nursing in 1968. Submitted Photo

Culhane began her journey as a nurse in 1965 in the acute mens/women’s acute unit at Kingston General Hospital where she worked for a total of three months, she said. Nursing students weren’t allowed to work in the emergency room or intensive care unit at that time, she said.

In September of 1968, Culhane began work at Belleville General Hospital [2] in the pediatrics unit and she would later work in a floating position which is working on multiple floors per day, she said. She spent the next 46 years of her career there.

Things have changed since Culhane began work as a nurse. The biggest change is the advancement in technology described by Culhane as both a blessing and a curse.

One of the positives?  This technology extends the lives of patients, she said. This change isn’t necessarily all positive though.

“Because the technology is so different, you will never find a nurse nowadays who sees the patient in a holistic manner which includes everything from making a connection with the patient to traditional bedside manner,” Culhane said.

Culhane worked as a nurse until 2014 when she ran for mayor of Belleville, she said. Following a slim defeat, she began relief work as nurse in Nunavut,  she said.

“I worked up north because I care about the vulnerable and I like to act as an advocate for them,” she said.

Outside of nursing, Culhane is also an advocate for multiple vulnerable groups in the community. She volunteers with the board of Three Oaks Shelter for Women, the Humane Society, the Canada Pension Appeal Board and the Salvation Army, she said.

“Nurses are unique individuals and we need people entering this job to care for the people and not just the money. If I wanted a job for the money, I would have become a banker,” Culhane said.

Nurses Week isn’t just about celebrating nurses at the end of their career. Future nurses should also be celebrated because the next generation of graduates are a big part of the evolving world of healthcare.

Shazmyn Kassam of Markham at Brock University’s annual nursing pinning ceremony April. Submitted Photo

Shazmyn Kassam is a soon to be graduate of Loyalist College and Brock University’s collaborative nursing program [3], Kassam, 24, has been win nursing school since 2014. With graduation day looming near, she is close to reaching her goal of becoming a nurse.

“Many factors influenced me to choose nursing. I think my biggest driving force was my desire to make a difference and positively impact the quality of life for others,” she said.

Kassam was attracted to the caring and compassionate nature of nursing, she said.

Nursing school wasn’t easy though. Her biggest obstacles were the workload and the lifestyle changes that had to be made in order to be successful, Kassam said. Building a support system to stay motivated was key to her success.

“I would like to be a travel nurse and be involved in the community to promote health and accessible healthcare,” Kassam said.

When asked why celebrating nurses week was important, Kassam said “Nurses are one of the most trusted professions and they deserve recognition for the hard work that they do on a regular basis.”