We recently celebrated National Nursing Week in Canada, a time to show appreciation for the hard work and dedication for our nurses. The theme for this year’s Nursing Week is #WeAnswerTheCall and was developed to showcase the many roles that nurses play in a patient’s health care journey. The pandemic brought to light the courage and commitment that nurses work under every day and showed the important role that nurses play in the community.

We sat down with Aatefa Nusrat, a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) at Centenary hospital, to talk about what Nursing Week means to her and her role in a patient’s journey.

1. Our Scarborough hospitals have seen some of the highest cases of COVID-19 since the first wave. As a frontline health care worker, how have you been taking care of yourself during these extremely challenging times?
2021 has been far better than last year, just because at this time last year we had no idea what this virus was or how badly it could affect people. Now, we know what pieces of PPE we need, how to treat people, and how to battle this virus from a health care perspective.

We know now how to protect ourselves as health care workers from the virus, and SHN has provided great support with mental health and wellness resources. We can get tested whenever we need to, and now that vaccines are becoming more available there is finally hope on the horizon.

Although our ICUs have continued to struggle with the influx of COVID-19 patients, the cases have slowly been decreasing. I try to encourage my friends, family and community to get the vaccine as soon as they’re eligible. There are many misconceptions about the vaccines, but they are our only hope to beat this virus and hopefully return to life as we know it!

2. National Nursing Week is from May 10-16, and the theme this year is #WeAnswerTheCall to showcase the many roles that nurses play in a patient’s health care journey. What role do you and your fellow nurses play in a patient’s journey here at SHN?
For me personally, a nurse’s role has two sides – the medical and human side. When I was in nursing school, they told me to see all patients as loved ones, whether a brother, sister or mother and to use that emotion to care for them as a person first.

On the medical front, we take care of their physical needs and stabilize all of their vitals. At the same time, it’s also our job to stabilize them emotionally and make sure their needs are being met. One thing I do every day is to start and end my day with a smile and make sure I introduce myself to every patient I see that day. I also make sure to say goodbye before I leave for the day.

I always get emotionally invested in each patient’s care. I speak with them, listen to them, laugh with them and sometimes even cry with them. Listening is so important and it articulates my day. When I can listen, I can better care for the patient and ensure their needs are being met.

3. You were recently recognized as an SHN Superstar, with a grateful patient donating to SHN Foundation in your honour. What does it mean to you to be recognized by a patient for providing exceptional care?

It’s an honour to be recognized as an SHN Superstar. I hear often from patients that I did a great job, and it’s nice to hear that feedback both from them and from colleagues and managers. But, for someone to donate to honour my name is something entirely different – I cried when I found out.

I don’t even know exactly who made the donation until I was presented with the award. I then read the lovely card, and was very emotional knowing that I made such a huge difference in someone’s life by just being with them for a short period of time.

It really makes me want to do more. Although we do what we do for our patients and not for recognition, it does validate that the relationships I form and the way I care for patients doesn’t go unnoticed. It really did mean the world to me, and if someone has received exceptional care I encourage them to honour an SHN Superstar and make a gift in their name.

4. You’ve been with SHN for 3 years now. What is your favourite thing about Scarborough and the vibrant community we serve?
Diversity and multiculturalism for sure. I learn so much from people of different backgrounds – not just our patients, but coworkers too. I learn how to care for patients in culturally sensitive ways and make sure every single patient that comes into our unit is treated with respect and kindness.

5. What would you say to encourage people to donate to our Scarborough hospitals or make a donation in recognition of an SHN Superstar?
It really means a lot to not only receive recognition from a former patient but to also know that recognition is helping support SHN. Our staff provide such great care, and it’s a shame that the facilities in which we’re providing that care aren’t as modern or updated as they should be.

By donating in recognition of an SHN Superstar, you’re helping us to better serve our community. With donations, we can upgrade and buy new medical equipment and machines, and ultimately create a brighter, healthier Scarborough.

We are so grateful for health care staff and nurses, like Aatefa, who continue to care for our Scarborough community as we battle the pandemic. This Nursing Week we are thanking the incredible nurses across the globe who are making a difference in the lives of our patients. Thank you.

If you would like to learn more about recognizing an SHN Superstar, visit SHNFoundation.ca/superstars today!