Alysia Lupinsky was just ten years old as she stood in a quiet corner of the Emergency Room at Queensway General Hospital. This ER wasn’t unfamiliar to her – suffering from childhood asthma, Lupinsky was used to visiting the ER on a regular basis. Setting aside the fact that her mother was the ER Director, Lupinsky was no stranger to this particular emergency room. But this day was different. As she stood in that quiet corner, she watched a team of nurses and health care professionals work together and rally to save a patient’s life. It was in this moment that Lupinsky knew she was going to be a nurse.
“I’m a very driven individual,” Lupinsky says. “Watching this team work together was one of the most astounding things I’d ever seen.” At age 16, Lupinsky became a Unit Clerk for what is now Trillium Health Partners. She continued as a Unit Clerk in the ER while enrolled in the collaborative program with Mohawk College and McMaster University and began working as a surgical nurse at 23.
Lupinsky stayed on the surgical unit for a year and then transitioned to emergency room nursing, where she’s been there ever since. “The ER presents the challenge of never knowing what is coming through those doors – we never close. There are times when it seems it will never end and nothing can ever get better, but I learned early that if we work together as a team, our team can handle anything.” And as stressful as the ER can be, Lupinsky is rewarded most by one thing: “The gratification of making a difference in that very minute.” At times, she finds her mind flashing back to her own family. “It is difficult to deal with strokes, heart attacks, cancer patients, mental health patients, paediatric and adult traumas, and you do flash to your own family, but in the ER, we also have the greatest opportunity to make a difference and save lives.”
With her Master of Nursing – Administration in hand, Lupinsky is the latest in a long line of U of T graduates in her family, dating back nearly 70 years. Her great aunt and uncle were both U of T physicians (Class of 4T6) her grandmother was the director of nursing at Queensway General Hospital, and her mother was the Chief Nursing Officer at Trillium Health Centre. Even her stepfather, a U of T MBA graduate, went on to become an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Medicine at U of T. “I guess you can’t say anyone was surprised that I went into nursing,” Lupinsky says.
“I owe a lot of my success in the program to the support of the faculty and staff at Bloomberg Nursing,” she says, noting particularly the contributions of Professors Michael Villeneuve and Margaret Blastorah. “They were warm and supporting, and I knew I could approach them with any challenges I had,” she says. “But they also pushed me beyond my boundaries and challenged me to think in new ways. Their passion for the nursing profession is incredible.”
Lupinsky has been good at stretching her own boundaries as well. In 2010, she took the licensure exam to practice in California, and worked in the emergency room at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. “Wherever I have worked, I have been lucky to have the best colleagues, and friends” she says.
What’s next for Lupinsky? She sees herself moving into a leadership role, and possibly into health care consulting. “I love bedside nursing, and it will be challenging to leave that,” she says. “I want to be an advocate for the next generation of nurses and health care professionals.
“Both my mother and grandmother are nursing leaders, and I aspire to have the same impact they have had, working to improve the nursing profession and quality of care while never forgetting their roots, where they came from, and always returning the discussion to the most important persons in the health care team – the patient.”