Sheila McBurney (BSN ’86)

Sheila received a BSN from UBC in 1986. It was a four-year program then and intense at times. Returning RNs came into the program halfway through, “helping to ground us in reality and the world of experience”. It was a good group even though the classes were large. Although she had considered a career in Rehabilitation Sciences, Sheila thought Nursing was broader, would offer her more opportunities to teach, to travel and work in a variety of settings and with a variety of people. “It offered a world of opportunity”.

Sheila did two years of the BSN program, took a year off to ski and work and then came back for the remaining two years. She still keeps in touch with her best friend from nursing school who now works as a midwife in Australia. Her first job after graduation was at St. Paul’s Hospital (SPH) in Vancouver and Sheila says of that work experience: “It was great! I loved it. My heart is still there”. It had a stable population of caring staff who used to have many fun times together, like going to Doll and Penny’s on Davie Street for breakfast after coming off of night shift. Although the work was very demanding it was also very rewarding and Sheila still keeps in touch with nurses and physicians from this first nursing job.

Eventually Sheila wanted to try a different experience in a different hospital. She continued at SPH as a casual nurse and began working at VGH as well in the Neurology Intensive Care Unit. Sheila then decided that clinical teaching was where she wished to focus and worked for three years as a sessional clinical faculty with the UBC School of Nursing.
Sheila taught clinical in the first year of the nursing program at UBC and loved the opportunity to work with the nursing students. During this time she also started working in the community during the summer and worked as a casual Home Care Nurse at all of the different health units in the city of Vancouver. When Sheila worked in home care, she liked the autonomy of it, the fact that it allowed for more personalized care than in a hospital and that people in their own homes have their own agendas and are often happier there as opposed to in hospital. It allowed for a different model of care and relationship with patients, being easier to focus on a person and their family in the home, with no bells ringing and no other competing demands. Sheila felt more able to participate in the interdisciplinary care as a part of the team when working in home care. “It’s like night and day. You can use all of your nursing skills in homecare”.

After leaving the UBC SoN, Sheila then worked full-time as a Home Care Nurse in Vancouver and eventually transferred her Home Care Nursing job closer to home, on the North Shore. While working on the North Shore in Home Care Sheila moved into leadership positions. Her first position was as a Home Care Nursing Consultant, then as an interdisciplinary Team Leader and finally as the Home Health Educator, also an interdisciplinary position. She says her heart is still in home care. But because she enjoyed the leadership positions so much, she decided she wanted to study leadership and did so at Royal Roads University in Victoria, obtaining her Master of Arts in Leadership and Training in 2007.

When asked what she enjoys so much about leadership and mentorship, Shelia indicated that it would be difficult not to enjoy such work! About half of the time she is engaged in personal growth and development and during the other half, she uses her personal growth and development to help others with their journeys. “That is so nice, to be able to learn how to be more effective as an individual and as a leader in personal relationships, in what matters, and then to help people do that in their own lives”. Sheila tries to help students think about their triggers, their biases and how they come across in a group process as an example of what this looks like in a teaching situation. “You always have to start with yourself, then share it with other people. “That appealed to me; it’s very rewarding and it’s really what we do as nurses. Everyone can be and is a leader, how do we foster that so all can be leaders?”

Sheila says that teaching students today is very rewarding. At UBC the students come with a huge amount of life experience and they are so engaged and really a joy to teach. “I hope to be able to share my passion for nursing especially in areas such as care of the older adults where there is so much potential and so much reward. These students have so much to contribute and they set a very high standard. I also believe that this is a good time for the students to enter nursing and that there is goodreason to be optimistic about the future of nursing so I hope to also share this perspective with the students”.

Sheila loves the outdoors. She enjoys cross- country and down- hill skiing, running, hiking, biking andswimming. And she loves gardening. In mid- June, Sheila, her husband and her dog, look forward to an addition to the family, their much longed- for child. “My idea of a great day is this: there’s lots of light, I’m going for a run and then I’ll do some gardening and walk to the beach and the coffee shop with my husband and our little black lab.” Sheila has already worked out how she will be able to do gardening with a new baby after her brother suggested to her that she would not be able to do so.