Alumni share nursing experiences at mentorship lunch

27 March 2014

When you’re about to embark on a new career, the experiences of those who’ve gone before you serve as much-needed guideposts. So it came as no surprise when more than 50 Bloomberg Nursing students scrambled to sign up to have lunch with U of T Nursing graduates willing to share their career successes – and challenges – at the annual Alumni Mentorship Lunch.

The event, now in its fourth year, features alumni from a broad range of practice areas. Jasmin Lau, BScN 9T5, for example, volunteered to share what she has learned from her 12 years as a mental-health/psychiatric nurse. Kristina Juskey, BScN 7T7, spoke to students about her experiences of a public health nurse with the Healthy Living Division of York Region Community and Health Services. And Jane Mosley, BScN 8T3, MScN 8T8, the chief nursing executive, health disciplines, professional affairs at Women’s College Hospital, offered tips on how to prepare for a management role.

Our Alumni Relations Office arranges the lunch so that three to five students have the privilege of meeting with one alumna for 25 minutes. Then a bell rings and the students move to another table to speak with a different alum for 25 minutes.

While enjoying sandwiches from the brown-bag lunches, three students listen attentively to Penny Vernon, BScN 6T6, the intake co-ordinator at CAMH’s Eating Disorders and Addictions Clinic. Mosley explains how the vast majority of clients she sees have trauma in their background. “They’re lovely people,” she says, adding that most lack stable housing and many are involved in criminal activities to support their addiction.

When Vernon explains that bariatric surgery can fail to stop overeating in some individuals with binge-eating behaviours, a student shares her experiences from a clinical placement that included patients recovering from the operation. Suddenly the student becomes the teacher. “I’d like to hear more about that,” encourages Vernon.

“It was really great fun to speak with the students, and their enthusiasm was infectious!” said Claudia Zanchetta, BScN 9T6, MN 0T2, the senior clinical manager for surgery and diagnostic imaging wait times and efficiencies at Cancer Care Ontario’s Access to Care Program.

“This event made me miss working with students, and I would like to get involved again.”

Andrea Lauzon, BScN 9T2, who earned a nurse practitioner, primary health care certificate in 0T9, also commented on the students’ enthusiasm – and energy. “I look forward to opportunities in the future to be involved again,” said Lauzon, who practises at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.

The other alumni who served as mentors were Pauline Palmer, MN 0T3; Joyce Rankin, MN 0T2; Sarah Telfer, BScN 8T4, MN 0T3; and Dionne Wilson, MN 0T3.

Many of the students who attended the Alumni Mentorship Lunch will graduate in just a few months. And when you’re just starting out, there is so much to learn. Fortunately for the students, the alumni agreed to be available to the students by email for the two weeks following the lunch.