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Jill Bruneau

Nursing professor says mentors helped her 'make a difference'

By Marcia Porter

Lead by inspiring others to lead and be the best they can be.

It’s what Prof. Jill Bruneau aspires to do every day as an instructor in the Faculty of Nursing, whether she is teaching undergraduate nursing students or master’s level nurse practitioner students, or working with her own research team as part of her PhD in nursing program.

“Nursing is a human science. It’s intrinsically linked to nursing practice,” said Prof. Bruneau, a nurse practitioner with a background in cardiac care.

“We have to understand all the science related to the human body — the anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and pathophysiology that influences health — but we also consider the health of an individual in context through various theories and lenses, the social, environmental and political influences on their health.”

Prof. Jill Bruneau wants young women scientists to know their ideas are as good as anyone else’s.
Photo: Submitted

Prof. Bruneau’s work with cardiac patients at all stages of their illness and recovery is what ultimately led to her PhD research in cardiovascular health promotion.

“I’ve seen a lot of people who had cardiovascular disease and met their families, and saw the impact that it has on someone’s life,” she said. “Some of my patients were only in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and seeing the devastation for people so young, I wondered, why can’t we do something more upstream, for example, to identify risk factors earlier.”

Mentors along the way

When the faculty launched a PhD program in 2013, Prof. Bruneau was among the first of four students. Continuing her career as an educator, she wanted to tackle those big questions and develop her own area of research.

“Since I’ve been in the program I’ve had lots of mentors who’ve inspired me,” she said. “It’s exciting to share your ideas, and to have those ideas supported. This is where I needed to be to make a difference.”

With research grants from Newfoundland and Labrador SUPPORT Patient-Oriented Research funding, the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador and Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research, Prof. Bruneau worked with patients and health-care providers such as nurse practitioners (NP) to develop a customized cardiac assessment screening tool.

Implemented by a number of NPs across the province, patient feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and she’s thrilled. She’s completed her data collection and is now carrying an analysis.

Her career advice to the nursing students she sees every day, and to her own daughter?

“Believe in your ideas. Do something that inspires you, whatever that is and you’ll excel. Lead to inspire others, and be a mentor.”

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