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Part of the change

Grenfell nursing graduate improving health outcomes for all

special feature: Class of 2023

The Gazette’s latest special feature celebrates Memorial’s newest alumni.

By Melanie Callahan

High-fidelity simulation, using a mannequin to practise nursing skills and procedures in a safe, yet realistic setting, is an essential part of learning.

As part of her bachelor of science in nursing program, new spring graduate Kathleen Burton worked as a student simulation assistant at the Western Regional School of Nursing.

The experience allowed her to work with nursing faculty, using the most up-to-date techniques and incorporating feedback from students to make the scenarios as close to real life as possible.

“I want to help improve simulation for future students,” said Ms. Burton, who collects her degree during convocation ceremonies in Corner Brook on May 18. “For me personally, practising those scenarios, I felt more comfortable making those mistakes on a simulated patient, than fearful that I would make those mistakes in a real situation.”

See herself reflected

Simulation is not the only area where the new graduate focused her efforts.

As one of only a few persons of colour in her class, she says she struggled with a lack of diversity.

“When you start a program, if there isn’t a lot of diversity and when you don’t see racial representation of yourself, it can feel challenging and discouraging at times.”

To work towards change, Ms. Burton took on a role with the national Canadian Nursing Student Association’s People of Colour Caucus to promote nursing as a whole to more Black, Indigenous and persons of colour (BIPOC).

Kathleen Burton wears a pink and black convocation robe with flowers in a studio setting.
Kathleen Burton
Photo: Submitted

She says that, when learning about nursing theory and historical nurses, the nurses she learned about were primarily white.

“And while they were deserving of the credit, one thing we noticed is that we rarely hear about BIPOC nurses and their contributions to the discipline throughout history.”

And it’s not just about reflecting a more accurate curriculum with equal representation, she says. Ensuring BIPOC voices are heard is also about improving better health outcomes.

“It’s important that we learn to treat patients in a culturally appropriate and respectful way and to consider the various cultural aspects to help them achieve better health outcomes,” she said.

As the population in Newfoundland and Labrador continues to diversify, Ms. Burton is passionate about nurses’ readiness of being inclusive of all skin colours, cultures and identities.

“We’ve made progress, but there is still a long way to go, and I want to continue to work to make progress, not only for students here but across the country. There is a lot of work to be done and I want to be a part of the positive change.”

Now that she is graduated, Ms. Burton will continue her work with simulation and diversity in nursing education in her new role in the Perioperative Unit at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s.

The text "Spring convocation 2023" is over a claret background with a subtle damask pattern and a gold Memorial coat of arms in the lower right-hand corner.

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