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Book smarts

New nursing graduate connects with patients through a love of stories

special feature: Student Success 2019

Part of a special feature celebrating the success of Memorial's graduates. This feature coincides with spring 2019 convocation ceremonies.

By Marcia Porter

When new nursing graduate Shane Gladney heads off to a shift on 6th east at St. Clare’s Hospital in St. John’s, he makes sure to tuck a favourite book or two into his backpack.

Shane Gladney credits his love of reading and stories with opening his eyes to a wider view of the world.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

It’s not just for passing a bit of time during a break — Mr. Gladney says his love of books and storytelling helps him connect with his patients.

“It makes me appreciate the stories that people have,” said the St. John’s native, who just a few years ago assumed he’d become a writer one day.

“Even when it gets really busy and hectic, being able to sit down and listen is a skill that really helps you in your nursing career. I love hearing people talk about their spouses, about how they met, and when they open up how their spouses passed away, it means so much.”

‘Changed my perspective’

Recently Mr. Gladney discovered Call the Midwife author Jennifer Worth, whose background as a nurse and midwife is evident in her work. One of her latest books, In The Midst of Life, is about death and dying.

When Mr. Gladney was assigned to a palliative care unit, he began thinking about Ms. Worth’s writing.

“It really opened up my eyes to palliative care, and comfort, and made me appreciate the importance of the less invasive holistic interventions that are very much the nurse’s skill. It changed my perspective on nursing.”

Lifelong reader

Long before Mr. Gladney ever thought about becoming a nurse, he grew up in a house filled with books, even turning his older sister’s room into a library when she moved out. Books by authors such as J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis and Kelley Armstrong lined the shelves.

Later, Mr. Gladney’s teachers in his international baccalaureate English courses at Holy Heart of Mary High School introduced him to a whole new world of international and feminist writers.

That’s when he the discovered the magical realism of South American authors such as Isobel Allende. He’s still a huge fan of her work.

“Reading gives you a certain perspective on the world. I think it helps you understand why the world is the way it is.” Shane Gladney

Along with his literary pursuits, volunteering was something he loved to do in high school. It’s what led him to apply to Memorial’s bachelor of nursing program.

Mr. Gladney was accepted right out of high school. But adapting to life as a nursing student didn’t allow for much extra-curricular reading.

It wasn’t until half-way through his second year that he managed to find the balance that allowed for precious reading time. He even helped a friend get her first library card.

“Reading gives you a certain perspective on the world. I think it helps you understand why the world is the way it is and how it can be better.”

Mr. Gladney will cross the stage at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre on Friday, May 31, to pick up his bachelor of nursing degree during spring convocation.

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