Global Health Nursing Conference 2016

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On Tuesday, March 15, 2016, I attended the Global Health Nursing Conference held at the University of Toronto, hosted by the Nursing Undergraduate Society at UofT. The purpose and the theme of the conference this year was to shed light on Refugee and Immigrant Health.

This year’s conference is particularly poignant due to the current social climate regarding the war conflicts that have started occurring in 2011 (and are still ongoing) within Syria, and the large influx of Syrian refugees within Canadian borders. Throughout this night, we explored topics related to refugee and immigrant health, and ways in which nurses play a significant role in facilitating access to safe and appropriate for a vulnerable population. The wide variety of panelists, speakers, and session facilitators encompassed a diverse group of registered nurses [RNs] and nurse practitioners [NPs] from a variety of different global health backgrounds. They offered their experiences and perspectives on global health, the impact that nurses can create in health care on a global scale, and the types of work in which nurses can play a part in on an international health care level.

This event garnered significant attention from a variety of different undergraduate nursing students. The evening was comprised of attendees from UofT’s second-entry BScN program, Ryerson’s BScN program, Nippissing, York, etc. It was refreshing to see variety in different nursing backgrounds, making it an optimal night for opportunities to network, meet new people, and make new nursing friends!

The first part of the evening began with a panel of four RN speakers with diverse careers within global health. Some of them worked in various acute care and community health settings in different parts of the world (i.e Sudan, Ethiopa, Sierra Leone), implementing global health initiatives such as surgical programs, vaccination clinics, maternal health education, etc. Some of them worked within the local community (i.e Women’s College Hospital), addressing refugee and immigrant health needs and concerns in the Greater Toronto Area. Having these varied experiences and backgrounds in nursing come to light truly widened perspectives and opened many minds. The nursing students in attendance, a majority of whom have yet to have any solid exposure to global health nursing, were able to think of adequate health care outside of a framework that is well-resourced, highly affluent, and well-supported by a competent government structure. We were forced to think critically about what health care and health care delivery looks like in various populations and cultures, and how we – as Canadian nurses – can use our influence to affect change, in order to improve global health outcomes. Moreover, we also had the opportunity to think critically about how to address global health issues within our own local community. Various speakers spoke about what immigrants – specifically refugees – experience, in terms of health services, once on Canadian soil. We discussed barriers they often face to receiving appropriate care, such as a lack of adequate health care insurance coverage and a lack of unfamiliarity in terms of navigating a new system. The panelists did a fantastic job in articulating that our roles as nurses are to ensure that immigrants and refugees receive a care that is reflective of our health care system’s values and beliefs – that is, a care that is individualized, patient and family-centred, and comprehensive.

 A highlighted global health organization that was brought to attention during this period of the evening was Medicins Sans Frontieres [MSF]/Doctors Without Borders. A number of the RN panelists discussed their own experience in working with this organization and how MSF carries out various global health initiatives in a number of resource deficient countries. The purpose of MSF is to provide medical support and services where it is most needed on a global scale, and to ensure that health care systems and organizations are well-supported and have sufficient resources to deliver adequate care across boarders. More information on MSF and their work, as well as how to get involved, can be found on:

Medicins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders

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The next portion of the evening was a dinner and Social, where we got to engage with the founders of the company iamsick.ca. iamsick.ca is a company that has created a technology platform in the form of an app and a website, to help facilitate access and equity to adequate health services in your own area. They have developed a system whereby one is able to access the most appropriate health care provider, for their specific needs, online. Furthermore, through this system, they are able to minimize things such as emergency visits, wait times, etc., as it specifically matches the individual’s health need with the specific health service and provider that addresses that need. iamsick.ca is a company that began at UofT and has grown over the last four years, with a large number of consumers that have been helped through its services. They work directly with healthcare providers and organizations to ensure that the link between patient and provider is more effectively established. iamsick.ca ensures that health needs do not go unaddressed and are addressed appropriately. For more information on iamsick.ca, please visit:

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The last portion of the evening involved Breakout Sessions, from which students were to choose whichever session they would like to partake in, to develop more knowledge in more specific niches of global health nursing. I chose to take part in the Sick Kids International Paediatric Global Health session, due to my interests in maternal and paediatric health. In this last hour of the evening, the Nursing Manager and the Advanced Nursing Practice Educator from Sick Kids International and Sick Kids Centre for Global Child Health spoke about paediatric health and nursing care on a global scale. They spoke about their past, present, and future projects and global health initiatives to address gaps in international paediatric care. A significant gap that they have found in terms of global child health is that nurses internationally lack the advanced competencies of paediatric nursing care, making it difficult for them to deliver the care that their country’s paediatric population requires. Sick Kids Centre for Global Child Health has taken steps towards developing a project that educates nurses abroad about paediatric nursing and paediatric care, in order to empower that country’s health care providers. This project has been a focus for a large part of their work and they hope to continue educating various nurses in various parts of the world, to ensure they receive adequate paediatric nursing education and training. For more information on Sick Kids Centre for Global Child Health, and to learn more about their work, please visit:

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The Hospital for Sick Children – The Centre for Global Child Health

Needless to say, the night was successful and the nursing students in attendance learned a lot about global health and how nursing plays a pivotal role in global health. With Canadian nursing school curriculums having a strong focus on nursing in the local and national community, there is a significant lack in education about the work nurses do on an international and global scale. This conference has definitely enabled nursing students across GTA to develop their knowledge and awareness in global health nursing, and has inspired us to build careers built on the foundation of community health development alongside with acute care development.

PedNIG Paediatric Nursing Skills Workshop: March 2016

On Saturday, March 05, 2016, I had the privilege of attending the Paediatric Skills Workshop hosted by the Paediatric Nursing Interest Group (PedNIG) of RNAO. The event was held at McMaster Medical Centre in Hamilton, Ontario. A large group of nursing students from nursing schools across Ontario eagerly attended the event, hoping to learn something new about the field of paediatrics. The room was filled with excited and anxious nursing students, waiting to hear from respectable and established paediatric registered nurses, hoping to pick their brains and learn some skills of the trade.

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The day began with open remarks from PedNIG RNAO representatives and executives, outlining the agenda for the day. The line up of speakers and presenters proved to be very exciting for the students, with a wide variety of speakers – from professionals who have been in practice for 20+ years, to new graduates who are all to familiar with the feelings of the students in the room. It was interesting to see the wide rang of experiences come together and speak about Paediatric nursing through different yet similar lenses. Each speaker and presented provided different perspectives and illustrated different ways of approaching this practice through their individualized experiences.

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The morning progressed with starting by learning how to complete a head-to-toe assessment of the paediatric population. We analyzed the process of how to conduct various health assessments in children ages 0-18 years of age, and how to act on complications found during certain assessments. It was a comprehensive review of the anatomy and physiology of the paediatric population that touched on key concepts and skills in paediatric nursing.

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The next session that followed was an overview of medication administration and dosage calculation for the paediatric population. Through this session, nursing students learned about different forms of administrating certain medications with various paediatric patients. We learned about how to assess for any signs and symptoms, how to assess for any adverse effects/toxic effects, etc. We also learned how to calculate the appropriate dosage of medication for paediatric patients depending on their weight and their condition. Students were attentive, actively participating, and collaborative with their peers throughout the entire session.

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The morning concluded by learning about paediatric mental health. This was a very new topic introduced to the practice of paediatric nursing, as mental health – up until recently – was not a standard assessment practiced in medicine. With increasing demands of putting more of a focus on mental health within health care, the paediatric population has proven to be one of the most vulnerable populations for instability in mental health. Through this particular session, we learned why exactly that is and certain influencing factors that affect the mental health of children. We learned what kinds of plans of action and intervention that paediatric nurses can take, in order to ensure that our patient population has a cohesive mental health. We learned about the importance of providing family-centred care and patient-centred care, and how we – as nurses – can play an important role as a source of support for our patients and their families.

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Following the morning’s workshop sessions, a lunch break ensued and afterwards, the afternoon’s session began. The afternoon’s session covered important topics in the field of paediatric nursing such as “Hot Topics in Paediatrics,” covering key illnesses and complications amongst the paediatric population (i.e Asthma, Type I Diabetes, pain). Following the Hot Topics session, a panel of esteemed professionals in the field conducted a Questions and Answers session with the students. This proved to be the highlight of the entire event, as students eagerly asked questions about the field and how to pursue a career in paediatrics as nurse to experienced professionals. Students asked questions such as:

“How do I gain experience in paediatrics as a student?”

“What makes a resume outstanding?”

“How can we maximize our experience in our clinical placements?”

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The panel of esteemed professionals were all too welcoming and eager to answer any inquiries and concerns that the students had. They answered with a high level of efficiency and conviction. The students were very receptive to the replies and very eager to participate in the discussions that were facilitated through the Q&A panel. This last session proved to be the most exciting aspect of the entire event and was a good way to end the day.

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Needless to say, the entire event proved to be very useful and very interactive for both the student attendees and the event hosts. The workshop was able to enhance the professional development of nursing students eager to build a career in paediatrics in a very significant way. The response to the various sessions held throughout the day were quite positive and enabled PedNIG – RNAO to be hopeful for future sessions. The event overall proved to be a huge success and attendees – myself included – left learning something new and feeling one step closer to their goals of becoming paediatrics nurses.

October is Child Abuse Prevention Month

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Fittingly, as I am a Child and Youth Care student, my first post will be child related.

A lot of us are familiar with ribbon campaigns and what some ribbon colours symbolize for example, one of the more famous ones is the pink ribbon and breast cancer awareness. But have you ever come across the purple ribbon?

History of Child Abuse Prevention Month:

First things first, to eliminate confusion, Child Abuse Prevention Month is April in the United States. Ours here in the Great White North is October.

Anyway, continuing on, the purple ribbon symbolizes awareness for various things such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Epilepsy, Lupus or ADHD, among many others. In the month of October however, it symbolizes awareness for Child Abuse Prevention. This matter directly affects some of our FCS programs such as Early Childhood Studies, Child and Youth Care, and Social Work (depending on what direction you go, I guess) so I believe it is important that we take a moment to familiarize ourselves.

According to Durham Children’s Aid Society, the use of the purple ribbon to signify Child Abuse Prevention Month was first started by them 23 years ago and then was adopted by organizations across Canada.

Signs of Child Abuse or Neglect:

There are many different ways in which children show signs that they’ve been harmed or neglected.

Physical Harm

Physical harm is a little more obvious than other types of harm because the evidence is on the child. Other than physical or internal injuries, physical harm can also be when there is inadequate child supervision, protection or care.

Signs of physical harm includes various injuries, inconsistent explanations as to how the child received the injuries, flinching when touched unexpectedly, extreme aggression or withdrawal, or wariness of adults.

Emotional Harm

Emotional harm is one of the most difficult types of harm to identify and prove. It happens when a child is treated in such a negative way that their self-esteem is severely impacted. It also includes the lack of a nurturing environment and exposure to conflict, abuse, or violence.

Signs of emotional harm include severe depression, anxiety, withdrawal, aggression, attention seeking, bed-wetting, or self destructive or aggressive behaviour.

Sexual Harm

Sexual harm is not only the sexual exploitation of a child but it is also when the person having charge of the child is aware or should be aware of the possibility of sexual molestation or exploitation by another person and they are unable to protect them.

Signs of sexual harm include age-inappropriate play, unusual or excessive itching in the genital or anal area, injuries to said area, displaying explicit acts, sophisticated or unusual sexual knowledge, or seductive behaviour.

Neglect

The origin of neglect usually stems from lack of knowledge of appropriate care for children or the inability to provide for a child that has special medical, mental, emotional or developmental needs that require more care, service or treatment.

Signs of neglect include poor hygiene, unattended physical problems or medical needs, consistent lack of supervision or lunch, delinquent acts or alcohol or drug abuse, truancy, inappropriate clothing for weather or dirty clothing.

For more in-depth information on the different types of harm please visit: http://www.fcsgw.org/protecting-children/types-of-abuse/

What to do if you Suspect Abuse or Neglect:

Depending on what program you are in, you may already be familiar with the term “Duty to Report. For those of you who don’t know, in short Duty to Report means that we have an obligation to report suspected child abuse or neglect. To whom you report to first, may depend on the situation, for example, if I were working in the field I would most likely tell my supervisor first and with his or her support I will then make a call to Children’s Aid Society (CAS). Ultimately, you would need to contact the proper authorities.

There are these public misconceptions that Children’s Aid does nothing more than take away peoples’ children however that’s wrong. In 2013, 97% of CAS investigations ended with children staying with their families. Surprising right? There is a new focus on in-home, early intervention services, which is based on the recognition that caring family settings are positive for children and early intervention can reduce the need for more intrusive services later.

If you suspect that a child is being harmed or neglected please make the call to CAS. Here is a website to help you determine which CAS location is the most appropriate for your case.

So you’re not quite sold are you? Still hesitant to make the call? Are you thinking that you only have a hunch or that you don’t have sufficient evidence and you don’t want to be the boy who called wolf? Well here are some tweets from the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Society that may help ease you:

 

How to Help:
There are many ways to help support this cause, here are a few:

  • Spread Awareness. Yes, it’s a heavy subject but we need to talk about it more. Post about it on social media, share posts on FaceBook, retweet on Twitter, do what us Millennials or Gen Z are known to do and if that fails then word of mouth is always a good back up plan. After all it is how information got around before technology!
  • Wear Purple. October 16, 2015 is this year’s Dress Wear Purple Day in which people are urged to incorporate purple into their outfits in order to help increase awareness.
  • Donate or Volunteer. You can check out organizations such as BOOST, which is a Child and Youth Advocacy centre based here in Toronto dedicated to eliminating child abuse and violence. You can donate, participate in their fundraisers, or volunteer with them.
    • For more information you can visit their website: https://boostforkids.org/
  • Bake or eat baked goods. Woah, how can I help a cause and eat yummy treats you wonder? On campus, the Child and Youth Care Course Union will be holding a bake sale on Monday, October 19 on the 6th floor of the SHE building from 11AM until 2PM. If you’re interested in volunteering, baking, or donating some goodies for the cause then you can contact me at RU.CYC.Union@gmail.com. All the proceeds from the bake sale will go towards the abovementioned organization BOOST.

 

 

Here are some more links if you want to learn more about Child Abuse Prevention:

 

The Campus We Walk On: Social Justice Issues at Ryerson

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During Social Justice Week, I attended the Social Justice Walk with Cathy Crowe.  Cathy Crowe is a street nurse, social activist and educator.  She has worked on issues affecting people experiencing homelessness for more than 17 years.  In 2013, Cathy Crowe joined the Ryerson Family (also known as Ramily) as a distinguished visiting practitioner.  I was very excited to see that she would be leading the Social Justice Walk on campus.

We walk on Ryerson’s campus generally 5 days a week for 4 years.  We spend countless hours in lectures, in the library, in the gym, grabbing a coffee and sitting by Lake Devo.  Ryerson campus is a place we feel at home; if you don’t believe me, check out the number people who take their shoes off and kick back in the library.  While we enjoy the comfort of our second home, we may not remember what surrounds us.  The campus we walk on is immersed in and surrounded by social justice issues.  During the Social Justice Week Walk, we visited the area around Lake Devo, the library, the Quad, the Ryerson Student Centre, and Yonge-Dundas Square.  The places we walk on everyday for education are also sites of struggles and victories in the fight for social justice.

What’s In a Name:
If you’re trying to identify a social justice issue at Ryerson, look no further than its name.  Ryerson University was named after Egerton Ryerson; the man whose ideas shaped the modern day education system.  Ryerson believed that education and religion should be separated but he held a very different view on education for Indigenous children.  Ryerson believed that education for Indigenous children should combine education, religion and physical labour.  It was these ideas that contributed to the creation of the residential school system across Canada that operated until 1996.

Cheryl Trudeau, a coordinator with the Aboriginal Education Council, joined us at the Ryerson Statue on Gould Street to discuss Ryerson’s acknowledgement of the history behind the name that is displayed across the downtown core.  Ryerson University both welcomes and respects Aboriginal peoples, committing itself to proactively working with Aboriginal peoples.  As part of the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Plan, Ryerson established the Aboriginal Education Council in 2010.  Its vision is to ensure that the next seven generations of Aboriginal people will have greater opportunities and success in education at Ryerson University. http://www.ryerson.ca/aec/index.html

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The Campus Daycare: More than Cute Kids in the Quad:
Perhaps you’ve seen the adorable children that attend the daycare located near Kerr Hall West.  They can often be seen taking a stroll around the Quad.  On a surface level, we enjoy seeing cute little kids amongst the big ones that attend Ryerson but much deeper is a social justice issue that has become a federal election issue for some parties.

The topic of childcare holds several social justice issues within itself; affordable childcare, the number of childcare spaces available, the availability of licensed and safe childcare spaces, precarious work experienced by Early Childhood Educators, ability for parents to return to work. and many more.  Providing childcare through a market system is not working for children, parents, families or those who works in the childcare sector.  We need a publicly funded system to address the many social justice issues that fall under childcare.  In Canada, only 20 percent of families have access to licensed childcare spaces, and this includes Quebec which has implemented a $7 a day childcare policy.

Ryerson Lifeline Syria:
Following the emergence of a devastating photo of Alan Kurdi, a toddler who drowned fleeing Syria with his family, refugees have become a topic of conversation in our politics, at school, on social media and at our dinner tables.  Outside Heaslip House, we learned about Ryerson Lifeline Syria and how to get involved.

Canada is unique in that citizens can sponsor refugees through their own means.  Lifeline Syria works to match people who want to sponsor refugees with people who are seeking sponsorship.  They act as a matchmaker, connecting these two groups of people.  This has emerged as a response to a complicated private system that has many twists and turns as well as long wait times.  While students may not have the financial means to sponsor a family, they are able to get involved in other ways.  Ryerson Lifeline Syria has several committees that address different issues refugees face.  Students often join committees related to their program of study and provide support as people arrive to Canada.  Interested students can get more information and sign up at: http://www.ryerson.ca/lifelinesyria/about/index.html

The part of our campus that isn’t really our campus but we consider it part of our campus so it’s pretty much ours:
Yonge-Dundas Square; while not technically part of Ryerson’s campus, any student will tell you that this is Ryerson turf.  Yonge-Dundas Square went through huge changes before our time at Ryerson; this revitalization was intended to address financial interests as well as build community.

With the goal of building community, Yonge-Dundas Square should be about people, activism, community and being one with the land we walk on.  Over time, business and private interests have overtook the area and public space.  This can be seen in the presence of private security in Yonge-Dundas Square, whose role is often to remove people experiencing homelessness that do not fit in with the gentrified idea for the space.  Removing those who do not fit in with this idea takes away from what public space is all about; building the surrounding community which includes those who are not housed.

As we stood in Yonge-Dundas Square, connections were made between these levels of security and Bill C-51; the controversial anti-terrorism bill passed by both the Federal Conservative and Liberal parties.  A bill of this nature makes is more difficult to protest and those who do are surveilled much more.  Yonge-Dundas Square has often been a site of protest for several social justice issues.  The increased surveillance of protestors, especially those who are marginalized, demeans the purpose of public space.

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In and Beyond Ryerson:
While the Social Justice Walk focused on social justice issues on campus, these issues extend to our communities outside of Ryerson.  In the past 10 years, the City of Toronto has lost over 1000 shelter beds due gentrification.  Development that has taken place has either been in the form of condos or properties have been left vacant.  The only youth shelter east of the Don Valley closed its doors last week.  Cathy Crowe has been teaching at Ryerson for two years at Ryerson; within that time there have been 3 or 4 homeless deaths on campus.  These on-campus tragedies directly relate to the city and communities that surround Ryerson.  These deaths are 3 or 4 of 700 names that are on the homeless memorial behind the Eaton Centre.  A homeless memorial is held the second Tuesday of every month at 12:00 pm as both a point of remembrance and pushing forward in advocacy on homeless issues.

Pushing Forward:
The Social Justice Week Walk was informative and emotional, but ended with a point of hope.  We need to make Ryerson less silent on both the social justice issues we walk on and those that surround our campus.  We have people at Ryerson who recognize oppression and marginalization both on and off campus; we have potential.

Work vs. Play for Early Childhood

Having an ECE background, I have become knowledgeable on the importance of play. With that said, I believe our society is becoming more and more fixated on the importance of intelligence which is apparently gained through worksheets, mathematical equations and letter recognition. More and more parents are expecting their children who have not yet turned three to be able to write numbers and letters with markers, identify all of the letters of the alphabet, spell their name and completing various math and literacy worksheets etc. What ever happened to good old fashioned fun? What many parents fail to realize is the ongoing learning that happens during play. Children learn to sort based on colour, organize connecting blocks into patterns, sequence objects from smallest to largest, count blocks they are using to build a tower etc. I think many parents overlook the many lessons children learn both on their own, with peers and with the guidance of their teachers.

More and more preschool programs are being introduced to programs such as Jolly Phonic and Handwriting Without Tears etc. I am not saying that such programs are not useful tools to learning literacy, however I don’t think they should replace play. When I was first introduced to the program Jolly Phonics in my first year placement in a Kindergarten classroom, I thought to myself, ”Wow! This is great! The children are learning so much and they are going to be so ahead of the game”. What I failed to consider, which a co-worker later pointed out, is that the children are indeed, ahead of the game. When entering grade one, parents returned to the centre expressing their gratitude for their children having learned so much, but their disappointment that they’re children have become bored as they are learning the same lessons they had learned the year before. An additional problem is that with boredom, in many cases, comes behavioural outbursts.

So what now? Can there be a balance between work and play? In my opinion, I think worksheets should be left until elementary school. Children need to learn how to interact with other children, how to share and how to engage in play. I believe this should come before learning our ABC’s and 123’s. I am not belittling the importance of academics, but I do believe early childhood should revolve around play and the learning that can come from playful experience. You’d be shocked at how many children don’t even know how to engage in play. Many children will wander the room aimlessly not sure of what to do or where to begin. Children need to learn the basics of play such as engaging in imaginative play, play with tangible materials and social play. So let’s put the worksheets aside for a moment and let our children do what they do (or are learning to do) best, play!

Image from: http://trustingconnections.com/blog/2012/08/29/tucson-family-tip-of-the-week-build-upon-your-childs-strengths/