Aaron Bates (BSN ’08)

Aaron Bates (BSN ’08), applied to the UBC BSN program from Guatemala. As the country representative for Pueblo Partisans – a small Vancouver Island-based non-governmental organization – he designed a community development strategy for a displaced indigenous population and provided cultural interpretation, leadership, and Spanish-English interpretation for visiting nurses doing clinical training there. His decision to become a nurse developed from those experiences.

“I provided translations of traumas and the rudimentary framework to understand the context of an individual’s particular pains, yet it was the nurses who were able to make these patients feel better by providing some physical relief,” he recalls. “I wished to integrate my experiences in Guatemala and translate them into meaningful social action. I could think of no better way of doing so than by dedicating myself to a career in nursing.”

During his program, Aaron had the opportunity for direct clinical learning in a variety of diverse settings. Perhaps the most influential was the Bella Coola General Hospital in the Bella Coola Valley on the central coast of British Columbia during his final clinical course. “It was a slice of our country that I had not previously experienced; I saw the human side of conditions we had been guided to explore at UBC. I was able to offer my nursing knowledge to a population that, nearly without exception, was welcoming and appreciative of my efforts.”

As a new graduate, Aaron continues to seek opportunities that will challenge him to explore his capacity to make a difference as a registered nurse. He has taken a position at Dartmouth General Hospital in Nova Scotia. “I’ve enjoyed this, perhaps more than any nursing I have yet done. We see all of humanity. We never really know what is going to happen. We don’t see people at their best, yet we have the privilege of entering into the most intimate parts of peoples’ lives and assisting in their care. Nurses, physicians and other staff respect each other’s unique knowledge and unique roles. And, there is so much to learn.”

At the Faculty of Applied Science congregation ceremony in November 2008, Aaron was chosen as the student speaker for the graduating class. In his address, he spoke to his own passion for nursing and recognized comparable commitment that all graduates within the Faculty of Applied Science – which includes nursing, architecture and landscape architecture, and engineering – have for their interconnected capacity to contribute meaningfully to the betterment of society. “We are as diverse as those whom we strive to serve. We are motivated by so much, in our choice of this caring, and trying, profession. We recognize that our universal humanity is perhaps best expressed when we are at our most vulnerable, and require the intimate care of strangers.”