Stephanie Wong (BSN ‘15)

What has made your time at UBC the most memorable? 
I have learnt and grown with a supportive cohort of students with vastly diverse backgrounds and talents, all working towards a common goal. I have also been fortunate to work with key faculty, and leaders in the nursing profession that have inspired and mentored me; through them I have found my areas of clinical and research interests. It is these people that I have met, and the insights I have gained through their work and experiences that made my time at UBC most memorable.

Why did you choose Nursing? 
For me, there was an immense draw to the nursing profession; you have the ability to profoundly impact the lives of the people and families as they transition through health and illness. The reason why I initially chose nursing is the same reason why I continue to be passionate about nursing. I chose this profession based off of one of its fundamental core values: the patients.

Tell me about your experience in Nursing. What have you learned that is most valuable? 
Nursing is dynamic and constantly changing. I have experienced and observed people at critical points in their life from the birth of a first child, to holding the hands of a patient near death. I have delved into the world of mental health and have come to understand the importance of investing in the social determinants of health. All these experiences from the program have been instrumental in shaping me as a person and as a health care professional. My perspective of health, life, death and dying has been forever changed, as my understanding of complex, ethical, political and social problems has been expanded.

One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned is the complexity and interplay of people and their environments. Problems and solutions are multifactorial in manner and require us to view them as such. This is the same for people and the patients I encounter. Being conscious of this complexity of has changed the way I approach situations in order to address them holistically.

How are you applying the skills you learned through your studies at UBC? How do you feel a degree in Nursing has benefitted you compared to a different field of study? 
The beauty of the nursing program is the direct translation of the skills learned in lecture, lab and clinical into the workplace. The program has set the foundation for my learning in order to continue growing as a health care professional.

What I did not realize before entering this program is how the nursing profession has the ability to allow oneself to rediscover their passions with a myriad of direction and choice. I feel that this is what makes nursing so unique.

What has been your most memorable/valuable non-academic experience studying nursing at UBC? 
I have had the privilege of being involved with a number of different extracurricular activities related to nursing, each having their own memorable and valuable experiences. I was able to represent UBC at provincial and national levels as a delegate for the Canadian Nursing Students’ Association (CNSA). This served as one of the experiences that really opened my eyes to the expansiveness of the profession, as I was able to meet and learn from students from across Canada.

One of the most memorable moments as a delegate was collaborating with the Langara School of Nursing, the host school for the 2014 CNSA National Conference. It is an invigorating experience to be surrounded by hundreds of like-minded people that all bring a unique perspective of the nursing profession to light, and having the opportunity to present in front of over 700 student nurses from across Canada.

It is what I have learned from these experiences that has shaped who I am as person, which has enhanced my practice as a nurse and how I will continue to grow as a professional.

What advice would you give a student considering Nursing? 
Nursing is as challenging as it is rewarding and it is important to enter the profession for the right reasons. This has served as an anchor during the most challenging times throughout the program and I plan to continue using this to keep me grounded in practice.

Where do you find your inspiration? 
I am continually inspired by the people I am surrounded by and the people that I encounter. The patients and families have provided invaluable knowledge and have guided my interests in how I can make a meaningful difference. The leaders in the profession that I have had the pleasure to work with have mentored me and inspired me with their work in quality and safety, as they continue striving for improvements and best care.

I have encountered nurses and health care professionals dedicated and committed to providing patients with the best care despite challenging environments. And my family, who has shown me unconditional love and support throughout this program and have been the root of my interest in health care.

These are the people that have ignited my curiosity, motivated me to keep pushing myself, to constantly reflect and critically evaluate issues, and have inspire me to be a better nurse and better person.

What are your plans for the future–immediate? Long-term? 
Before I entered my last clinical placement on a cardiac care unit, I had no idea which direction to take as a new graduate. I am delighted to say that my experience working with this complex and evolving patient population has fascinated me into the realm of cardiac nursing.

My immediate plans are to finish the BCIT Dysrhythmia Interpretation and Management course and continue learning and growing as a cardiac nurse. In addition, I will be continuing my work in quality and safety with a project on shared decision-making and its influence on cardiac patients’ medication safety outcomes.

As for the long-term future, I cannot comment on where I will end up. My experiences at UBC have profoundly shaped my interests and have allowed me to discover my deep passion for health care improvement. I feel that I have found a career, an area in nursing, which combines what I am most passionate about: system change and quality improvement.

I have been inspired by the work that is currently being done in quality and safety for healthcare improvement, motivated by the need for further change, and challenged by the current barriers facing health care. I have a strong desire to contribute to the work being done to improve our health care system and to continue learning from our health care leaders.

How will you go on to make a difference in our world? 
Building off of my previous answer, I believe that there is a need for change, but change is a process unique to each situation. Health is rooted in much more than healthcare, it encompasses many social and political complexities. As a result, our healthcare system needs to better reflect this relationship.

Patients are an invaluable source of knowledge and expertise that can provide insight into the shifts necessary in order to improve our health care system. It seems obvious, but in order to have a patient centered health care system that keeps quality and safety at the forefront, we need to incorporate our patients in the process of change.

As a new graduate nurse, I hope to make a difference with each patient and work environment that I encounter. As an individual, I can choose to the type of health care professional I wish to be, and by knowing this, I strive to lead by example, keeping patients at the forefront of our healthcare system.

Where has your BSN taken you?
Over the past three years I have been working in the Heart Centre at St. Paul’s Hospital in a variety of clinical areas. Caring for patients in a multitude of different areas has allowed me to gain a broad skill set as well as a detailed understanding of a patient’s journey from experiencing a heart attack to recovering from coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

Outside of developing my clinical skills, I am currently part of the Heart Centre’s Knowledge Translation team, implementing a verified screening tool for psychological distress among cardiac inpatients. This project highlights the importance of anxiety and depression as risk factors for cardiovascular disease and actively brings the issue to the forefront of health care.

There are two constants that have stayed true since I began my career in nursing. Firstly, great mentorship results in great leadership. From the beginning of my career at St. Paul’s Hospital, I have been surrounded by phenomenal leaders in the health care industry that strive to continue improving and spearheading change to better patient outcomes. This in turn, has empowered me to challenge our organizational practices and I have learned how to systematically evaluate and approach change. Secondly, nursing is a dynamic profession. I am reminded on a daily basis on how vast and yet detailed nursing practice is, and I am humbled by the expertise and knowledge of my colleagues. The innovative and creative approach to health care is demonstrated by the work done at the St. Paul’s Heart Centre.

I am looking forward to starting my critical care training at BCIT this Spring as well as continuing my involvement with quality improvement and build upon my knowledge of system change.

Material provided by the Rising Stars Applied Science 2015 interviews and Stephanie Wong