Alumni Profile: Meet Tracey DasGupta (BScN 91, MN 07)

27 July 2016

Tracey DasGupta (BScN 91, MN 07) is the Director of Interprofessional Practice at Sunnybrook Health Sciences. A CNA-certified oncology nurse, DasGupta has served as a clinical educator, advanced practice nurse, and director of nursing practice. “I’ve worked in various settings along the continuum of care, from acute and palliative care, to community and ambulatory care,” says DasGupta. “I love my current role, and each role I’ve had provided me with important lessons that have strengthened me both personally and professionally.”

In 2013, DasGupta received the Distinguished Alumni Award for her contributions to the profession. Nominations for this year’s awards are now open – nominate a deserving alumnus now.

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What drew you to nursing as a profession?

I have always wanted to be a nurse, for as long as I can remember. My father was my “why” for nursing, the foundation of my passion and purpose. He lived with muscular dystrophy, and growing up as a young caregiver, I learned about quality of life and resilience from him. I learned to recognize opportunities to provide care and support, access resources, and the need to change societal views of “health and wellness.

Nursing is a profession that gives voice, enables, and transforms lives, and my path in the profession has exceeded my expectations. When my father passed away, we planted a black oak tree. That tree grows strong, a symbol of love and hope.

What is the most challenging aspect in nursing?

In “The Art of Stillness”, Pico Iyer talks about “adventures to nowhere.” I love that idea. Health care takes place in such a rapid-paced, complex environment, where one of the greatest challenges is creating and sustaining a values-based health care system for patients, families and health care teams. That means seeking to understand what drives our passion, gives us joy, and defines our purpose. By turning our attention inward and learning to be still, we can take that “adventure to nowhere,” away from the distractions, commotion, and business of our  lives.. In a pressured environment like the health care system, this may appear to be a luxury, but is in fact an imperative. We must create a culture of shared values that we feel connected to, to let the paths we take in life and work define our journey. If we don’t want to just be moved along then we must always challenge ourselves to tap into our deepest energy, using that energy to inspire ourselves and those around us.

Iyer continues – “Going nowhere … is about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.” When we take time to clarify our values and what is most important, it changes how we connect with patients and families, how we communicate and collaborate with our colleagues, how we learn, how we listen, and how we lead.

What is the most rewarding aspect/moment in nursing for you?

Life happens in moments and the most important aspect of nursing for me, are those moments. I have had the privilege to be present during times when families have received a diagnosis of cancer, when individuals have been told that their cancer treatment is no longer having the hoped for effect, as women have removed their first dressing following a mastectomy, and as patients and families have shared hopes, fears and dreams for an uncertain future. I have quietly held hands in the middle of the night; I have laughed and cried with patients and families as they have shared stories of their lives. I have celebrated the end of chemotherapy, the growth of new hair, and the birth of grandchildren. I have felt sorrow and pain and I have rejoiced, and during every moment I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a nurse and to a part of each person’s story. The opportunity to build relationships, to connect with people, and to be truly present during important moments in life and death is what I value most.

What did receiving your Distinguished Alumni Award mean to you?

Being recognized for one’s contribution is entirely humbling, and was an incredible honour for me.  I was nominated by an important mentor who has supported and continues to support me throughout my journey, making the award even more special. Receiving the award at Spring Reunion as the classes of 4T2 and 4T3 celebrated 70 years since graduation, to be surrounded by these honoured alumni, was inspiration in the greatest sense.

How has the Distinguished Alumni Award inspired you?

The award inspired me, and continues to. I reflect often on the important value of recognition and celebrating achievements,, and the role it plays for us all. For me, being recognized led me to think critically about my contributions each and every day.  I think about the people who have invested time and energy in guiding me and supporting me to grow. I know my role is to see the shining eyes of those around me, and to support them along their way. I am truly grateful.