Dinner makes friends out of strangers

28 February 2012

Dinner with 12 Strangers - Feb 2012

From left to right: Lysanne Menzies, Elisa Simpson, Karine Godbout,
Matthew Koehler, Lee Ann McGillvray, Shawna Ardley, Hilary Hall,
Dr. Amy Bender and Emily Karas

Dinner with 12 Strangers is a U of T initiative which has been a great hit for Bloomberg Nursing. The casual networking event brings together nurses from all stages of their career in an enjoyable setting where questions can be freely asked and valuable lessons shared. Both students and alumni are keen to know what the other is doing, one looking to future possibilities while the other looks back at past experiences.

The latest memorable evening was hosted by Hilary Hall, BScN 0T9, Diabetes Nurse Educator at South Riverdale Community Health Centre, and Shawna Ardley, BScN 0T9, a nurse with Toronto Public Health and volunteer preceptor for the IMAGINE Clinic, an interprofessional health outreach initiative for marginalized populations.

They’d first discussed taking part in the event while completing their undergrad. “We’ve always had an interest in learning from other people in the health care system, peer support, mentoring and multidisciplinary learning,” says Ardley. “The sharing aspect has always really appealed to me as well.” She sees the dinner as a genuine opportunity to get to know present and future colleagues outside of the work environment.

For Hall, it’s also about helping current students satisfy the same desire to interact with nurses in the field that she experienced while studying. “When I was a student I really wanted to hear from other nurses,” says Hall. “So I feel it’s important to connect with students now.”

Over a couple of pans of homemade lasagne, conversation flowed effortlessly. Once strangers, the group readily connected, finding they had a lot in common and even more to talk about. “It was a night of good conversation, full of first-hand stories and experiences from people who were once in my shoes at Bloomberg Nursing,” says Elisa Simpson, BScN student, class of 2012. “And boy are there lots of stories in nursing!”

“One of the most fascinating things about nursing, and one of the reasons I decided to enter the profession, is there are so many avenues and areas you can apply nursing to,” says Emily Karas, nurse consultant for the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. “It was interesting to sit down with fellow colleagues from the profession, and learn and hear about the different aspects and areas of nursing in which people are engaged.”

Karine Godbout, MN student, class of 2012, never doubted the event would be noteworthy. “These are important opportunities to share nursing ideas and find inspiration,” she says. “Complicity in a discussion about the vision for the future of our profession can turn into friendship.”

“U of T Nursing is not just a program,” says Ardley. “It’s a community.”