Tilly (Burke) Bara (MSN ’74)

When Tilly finished high school she intended to become a teacher. This soon evolved to being a nurse and then a career in primarily Nursing education. This was influenced by an extended experience of illness and the caring and attention she received from nurses during this time. Her sister was also a nurse and this contributed to her decision as well.

Tilly was born in Newfoundland and completed a three-year Nursing Diploma at St. John’s General Hospital School of Nursing in 1965. She was invited to join the faculty immediately upon graduation. After one year of teaching she chose to obtain a BN with a focus on teaching from Dalhousie University, graduating in 1969 and returned to her School of Nursing to teach for 2 years. She came to Vancouver in 1971 and taught for one year at VGH School of Nursing. She then decided to do an MSN at UBC, focusing on curriculum development under Dr Margaret Campbell’s direction, and graduated in 1974. She returned to VGH after graduation and this coincided with the early implementation of the RNABC School of Nursing approval process. She was asked to take on a brand new position as Curriculum Coordinator with the mandate to lead significant changes in the three-year diploma program – these changes were to begin implementation within three months. This was a significant challenge for her and all the faculty and continued over several years. They were successful from the beginning in obtaining RNABC approval.

Tilly was married in 1974 and she and her husband found time to travel to Europe among her extended hours of work on curriculum development. She began to work on her Master’s Degree in Adult Education in 1977 and completed it in 1982. In the meantime, she accepted a position with VGH in 1980 as the first Director of Nursing Staff Development overseeing CPR education, orientation activities and IV Therapy, to name only three. Later, all Nursing education was centralized under this position. In the early 90’s the position was changed to Director, Corporate Education, and in 1993 when Shaughnessy Hospital closed and UBC merged under VGH,she became responsible for staff development across campuses. Tilly took on many challenges in her 22 years at VGH with perhaps the most challenging being Acting Vice President for Patient Services for periods in 1992 and 1993. She was an elected member of the RNABC board of Directors for a 2 year term and volunteer President of the RNF for 1 year. As a RNABC board member she served on the Committee for Approval of Schools of Nursing and on the VCC committee for the LPN program.

Tilly retired from full time work in 1997, but continued to be active in nursing and in her community. She completed projects alone or with other consultants in a wide variety of areas. She and Joan Prociuk (one of her former staff at VGH and a graduate of the UBC MSN program) developed a Framework for Orientation and Continuing Education program for Vancouver Community Health. Tilly was able to modify it for use at Fraser Health Home Health, Health and Welfare Canada (Indian and Inuit Branch) and for Vancouver Addiction Services.

Tilly participates in and provides leadership within her church community. She has used her knowledge of developing vision, mission, goals, etc within her church work. She also does limited volunteer work with Variety, the Children’s Charity.

Tilly has received a number of awards during her career. She was the gold medalist in her basic nursing program, received the Lenta G. Hall award at Dalhousie University, the RNABC Award of Excellence in Administration in 1992, The BC Health Educators Association Award of Recognition of Excellence in Health Education in 1993, the UBC SON Nursing Alumni Recognition Award in 1996, and Honorary Membership in the VHG SON Alumnae Association in 1997.

It was an interesting and rewarding career for her in spite of many challenges. The opportunities to learn were endless. She made lasting friendships and values their involvement in her life.