By: Leah Carrier, BScN, Dalhousie School of Nursing
Leah Carrier has just completed BScN at the Dalhousie School of Nursing, and was the recipient of the Governors’ Award. Leah is really excited to be starting her new career as a registered nurse at the Halifax Infirmary as well as starting the MScN program here at Dalhousie in the fall, where she will be working with Marsha Campbell-Yeo at the MOM-LINC Lab at the IWK. Leah will be working on master project that explores the role culture plays in parent-targeted interventions for pediatric pain. She will also be working in a research lab that focuses on Indigenous health and as a registered nurse in orthopedics and general medicine.
In October 2017, as part of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation Micro Bursary Program, Leah attended the Canadian Nursing Students’ Association Atlantic Regional Conference in Newfoundland.
The Canadian Nursing Students’ Association is the primary professional organization for nursing students in Canada and represents nearly 30,000 students from coast to coast. Every year, the association hosts regional and national conferences to help students be informed about key topics and issues within the profession as well as nursing education and advocacy efforts in healthcare. The 2017 Canadian Nursing Students’ Association Atlantic Regional Conference was held in Corner Brook, Newfoundland from October 19-21, 2017. The theme of this conference was “A Discussion on Mental Health: Silencing the Stigma in the Classroom, Workplace, and Community”. Presentation topics and workshops included topics such as crisis intervention, Indigenous peoples’ mental health, harm reduction, addictions, and the stigma of mental health among health care professionals.
I was invited to attend this conference as a speaker and presented about the importance of self-care for students and student leaders along with the project co-lead, Jaimie Carrier, from the MScN program. This initiative, called “Secure Your Own Life Mask”, has recently received funding to conduct a multimedia campaign about self-care and mental health for nursing students. I also had the opportunity to present on a panel discussion about students’ lived experiences with mental health.
Mental health services are in high demand and nurses need to be able to meet the mental health needs of their patients and communities, regardless of their area of practice. This conference allowed nursing students to develop knowledge and practical skills to bring forward into their future practice, such as how to intervene in crisis scenarios and how to locate information about community-based mental health services throughout the Atlantic region. Personally, this learning experience has allowed me to bring back valuable knowledge to help improve the experiences of diverse students on campus. Specifically, I will be using knowledge gained in this role to pass along information to students in my capacity the Vice President of Equity and Inclusion on our Nursing Society. This role is to increase representation from diverse and minority communities within the School of Nursing as well as ensure that all student-run events are culturally safe and accessible to minority students. By learning more about mental health and how it affects diverse individuals, I can strive to share knowledge from the conference and further develop connections with other groups on campus to achieve our mutual goals of making Dalhousie more inclusive.
I am truly grateful to the Johnson Scholarship Foundation and the Global Health Office for making it possible to attend this important event so that I could expand my research and clinical interests and learn practical skills for my future career.
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