Ten to 15 years ago, Kyle Samuels would never have believed that he would one day be a nurse, let alone about to start the first year of his master’s degree in nursing at the University of Toronto’s Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing.
“I actually thought I was going to be veterinarian,” says Samuels of his original career plan. After completing his first degree in animal biology, he worked at the popular attraction, the African Lion Safari and later a vet clinic before realizing he needed to make a change.
“It was when I was applying to vet school that it dawned on me, maybe this isn’t for me. I couldn’t come up with an answer to the question, ‘why do I want to be a vet,’” says Samuels.
Over the past few years working as a registered nurse, Samuels has developed a passion for expanding his scope of practice to better serve his patients which he knew he could continue to do but with greater expertise, after completing the Master of Nursing – nurse practitioner (NP) degree from Bloomberg Nursing.
Samuels currently works at a hospital in the more rural region of South Grey Bruce on the medicine/surgical intensive care unit. Within this smaller 80-bed hospital setting, Samuels says nurses have an opportunity to be a part of an interdisciplinary health team, and to care for a variety of patients throughout their health journey.
Historically, however, nurse practitioners are not often hired into hospital settings in smaller communities, and Samuels is hoping to see that change.
“I want to help play a role in fostering growth in health care spaces for nurse practitioners,” he says, “we have a lot to offer that could help the health care system as a whole, and serve the health of everyone.”
It is not lost on Samuels that by becoming a nurse practitioner, he also has a unique opportunity to play a part in increasing the level of diversity and representation of Black nurses among advanced practice nurses in Ontario’s northern communities.
“I work with many people from different ethnicities and backgrounds who are nurses, but when I think about that next step in leadership and autonomy, it would be amazing to see more people of colour moving into the NP space,” says Samuels.
Samuels who identifies as Black, shares a story about a previous patient of his, who explained to Samuels that this was the first time he had ever had a health care provider looking after him who also looked like him.
“That really stuck with me,” says Samuels, “many people do not realize the impact that representation can have, especially in healthcare, where there is such a power dynamic at play between the vulnerable patient and those providing care. It is one of the many reasons I’m so excited to be pursuing a degree as a nurse practitioner.”
In addition to inspiring greater diversity among future nurse practitioners, Samuels is looking forward to the placement opportunities that the nurse practitioner program at Bloomberg Nursing offers, and to work with patients from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds to provide competent and compassionate care.
“That’s why I chose Bloomberg Nursing at U of T,” says Samuels, “the NP program here is unique, you have an opportunity to work in placements in a hospital setting in addition to other community organizations, and there are avenues to gain skills as a researcher, which throws open the doors to future possibilities including potentially pursing a PhD.”
For now, Samuels is ready to settle into the program and learn as much as he can to provide as a future nurse practitioner, including how to remain an advocate for patients ensuring that they always receive the best quality of care.