Happy Nursing Week. May 9-15, 2022.
Nursing Week 2022. Images of five Sunnybrook nurses.

Happy Nursing Week!

May 9-15, 2022 is Nursing Week, a time when we celebrate and honour our dedicated nurses who demonstrate incomparable grit, warmth and grace every day, ensuring the people of our hospital, province and country receive quality, compassionate care.

This year's national Nursing Week theme is "We Answer The Call." As we head into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we thank all of our registered nurses, registered practical nurses and nurse practitioners who have answered the call for the Sunnybrook community, always being there when it matters most.

Below, read stories about some of Sunnybrook's nurse heroes.

Elainne Rivera

Elainne Rivera brings 22 years of Sunnybrook experience to every shift as a registered nurse. She started with the hospital in November 2000 and in 2004 began her work with the Schulich Heart Program. When the short stay unit opened in 2011, Elainne joined their team and has been working there ever since. She was team leader for three years until the position became rotational.

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“In short stay, we look after pre and post-procedure patients,” says Elainne. “The procedures range from angioplasty to TAVI to left atrial appendage (LAA) closure and more. Sometimes if there isn’t a bed on D3 or CICU [critical care], we take them on as in-patients. We also have medical directives to provide an advanced level of care. When nurses are needed elsewhere within the program, like telemetry or the B3 outpatient unit, we can cover-off those areas. We’re a very flexible unit.”

Elainne didn’t initially think she would become a nurse, “At home in the Philippines, I wasn’t drawn to nursing, I was scared of hospitals, but I was encouraged by family members to study nursing and I found my passion. I can’t imagine doing anything else now.”

Compassion and understanding are two qualities that Elainne says are essential as a registered nurse. “I want patients to feel calm and supported before they go in for their procedure,” she says. “I talk with them about the weather, little things like that. I stay in tune with how they must be feeling. Sometimes they are scared or nervous, and I help them through that anxious time.”

Elainne feels proud of the team she works with in the short stay unit. “We’ve been through a lot with the pandemic, we’re tired, but it’s a happy place to be. Everyone on the Schulich team is so great to work with. I feel blessed.”

When she thinks about what keeps her going through long days, Elainne says, “It makes me happy to help patients and relieve their pain. I can often see the relief immediately after a procedure and that never fails to make me feel like we are making a difference in their lives.”

Story by Laura Bristow. Photo by Kevin Van Paassen.

Interested in joining our amazing team of nurses? We're hiring!

Chandra Kafle

When Chandra Kafle and her family moved to Ontario from Nepal, she had a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Wanting to continue her career in Toronto, she set out to fulfill the requirements necessary to practice in Ontario. That journey brought her to Sunnybrook, where the support and encouragement she received helped empower her along the way.

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Chandra found her way to Sunnybrook while she was completing a “Academic Pathway for Nurses” program. Through this, she received a clinical placement in Sunnybrook’s K-Wing.

“I was really impressed with the opportunities for staff and for students,” says Chandra. “I knew I wanted to work for Sunnybrook.”

Chandra passed her Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) exam in May 2014. To meet the requirements to become a Registered Nurse (RN), Chandra enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program while working part-time at Sunnybrook’s Holland Centre.

“Because I did the program while I was working, one (challenge) was time management and then sometimes having the feeling that you are not there with your child all the time,” she says. “Finding the right balance between family life and my professional life was a little bit challenging.”

But Chandra was able to meet those challenges, complete her degree, and begin her career in Ontario as an RN at Sunnybrook.

Today, Chandra is about to finish her Masters in Nursing, with a focus on leadership and health policy, and she is working as an interim Advanced Practice Nurse (APN), a leadership role she’s enjoying.

Chandra says she didn’t know at the outset that it would be such a lengthy process, but even during the challenging times, her commitment to her education and the support she received kept her pressing forward.

“What kept me going was motivation from my family and my hunger for education and continuous growth,” says Chandra. “And I am so lucky that I am here at Sunnybrook. I got so much support from my peers, from managers and from the organization. That support has helped me grow personally and professionally and led me to where I am today.”

Story by Lindsay Smith. Photo by Kevin Van Paassen.

Learn more about opportunities for Internationally Educated Nurses.

Ethel Ng

“Hold them tight if you feel scared.”

Jane Moore remembers these words after telling her nurse she was nervous before a procedure at Sunnybrook’s Schulich Heart Centre. Jane has a cardiac arrhythmia, meaning her heart can beat too quickly. The condition worsens when she is anxious.

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She was surprised when Ethel Ng, registered nurse, inflated two surgical gloves for her to hold and squeeze during her cardiac ablation. Ablation is a procedure that scars tissue in the heart to block abnormal electrical signals and restores normal heart rhythm.

“She gave me the closest thing to a hand to hold,” says Jane, who says the warm and thoughtful gesture helped her stay calm during a procedure in the summer of 2020 and again a few weeks ago. She also credits her cardiologist, Dr. Eugene Crystal, for his soothing words when she felt nervous.

“The blown-up gloves are a simple thing we can do for patients that can really help them,” says Ethel, who got the idea from an anesthetist she worked with.

For Jane, the gloves were a huge source of comfort. “I linked my fingers through and felt so much better. Ethel says it was a simple thing to do. For me, it was a major thing. I’m so thankful.”

Story by Marie Sanderson. Photo by Kevin Van Paassen.

See how Sunnybrook is empowering the next generation of nurses through mentorship

Stephen Javelosa

“My partner Victoria and I got engaged about four months before the pandemic hit. She’s a nurse at another hospital, and I worked on the COVID-19 unit here at Sunnybrook from the second wave onward.

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We weren’t living together at the time, and we knew the risks were high. For about six months, the only time we would see each other was for socially-distanced visits, like driving to a parking lot and catching up from our cars with the windows rolled down. It definitely wasn’t how we had envisioned the start of our engagement to be.

Working on the COVID-19 unit was so difficult, and yet seeing some patients recovering made all the hardships worthwhile. Sharing these highs and lows with Victoria, even from far across a parking lot, gave me the emotional support to keep going.

When the vaccines became available, we were grateful to get our shots. They provided some protection, peace of mind and allowed life to open up in some ways again. We had always planned our wedding to be in August 2021, and were able to make that happen with some restrictions. It took place at a large outdoor venue, so a number of our friends and loved ones were able to attend. The ceremony was also streamed, so others – including some of my Sunnybrook colleagues – were able to virtually celebrate with us. The best part is, I can finally say that Victoria is my wife!

Looking back, the whole experience was so surreal. From our hopeful beginnings of getting engaged, the sad moments of not being able to see each other, to the incredible moment of finally getting to the altar. I’ll never forget the big cheer we got when we said our “I dos” and kissed! It was amazing.”

Story by Stephen Javelosa. Photo by Kevin Van Paassen.

Take a look inside Sunnybrook’s ICUs: A day in the life of critical care nurse Victoria Boateng

Ashlynn Aucoin

When Ashlynn Aucoin started a placement at Sunnybrook as a nursing student, she knew she would learn a lot about providing high-quality patient care. What she didn’t know yet was the support and mentorship she received here as a new nurse would turn this into her dream job.

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“It [is] a really great learning environment and people are super eager to teach you,” Ashlynn said. “Also, there’s … lots of unique things that you only see at Sunnybrook.”

Ashlynn began her journey with Sunnybrook as a student completing a placement, but when COVID-19 ended her consolidation hours, she was referred to the Clinical Extern program so she could gain on-the-job training as a nursing student while assisting the interprofessional health-care team provide high-quality care to patients and their families.

“I learned a ton,” she says.

Since then, Sunnybrook sponsored Ashlynn as she completed her Emergency Department certification, and she is now a registered nurse in Sunnybrook’s Emergency Department. Ashlynn credits the support and mentorship she received at Sunnybrook for helping her feel prepared to succeed in her new role.

“I had a good foundation. My transition into independent practice was I think as smooth as it could have been because of the support I got,” Ashlynn says.

As valuable as the support and mentorship have been, Ashlynn says the work is still challenging. And for nursing students who are considering employment in a hospital setting, she advises not getting stuck on how difficult or scary it might be.

“It’s challenging, but if you’re in the right environment that supports you, the growth that you get as a nurse and a person is worth the difficulty,” she says.

Read Ashlynn's full story, and learn more about her experience working and growing as a nurse.

Story by Lindsay Smith. Photo by Kevin Van Paassen.

Learn about the win-win model of clinical externships.