When Samantha Bulchand, a first year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) student didn’t get accepted to the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing on her first attempt, she was devastated. Nursing, she says was something she had been drawn to since she was a kid. Caring for her younger brother, volunteering at a daycare and at a children’s respite and hospice, had all inspired her decision to become a nurse. For a brief moment, her faith in that chosen career path was just a little shaken.
“It was my mum who told me everything happens for a reason, so I took this pause as an opportunity to reflect on why I wanted to get into nursing in the first place,” says Bulchand.
For a year after her initial application, Bulchand who earned her first undergraduate degree from U of T in neuroscience and anthropology, worked for a mental health organization which she says allowed her to grow as an individual and renew her passion for the field of nursing. It helped her realize why she wanted to be a nurse, which was centered around the joy she got from working directly with people.
“Nursing revolves so much around care for the patient and individual and it is something that gives me a real sense of purpose,” says Bulchand. “From an early age that sense of caring for others and having a strong work ethic was really instilled in me by my mother who was an immigrant and single mom. She worked really hard to help us succeed. Being of service to others is in my nature, and a strong family value for me.”
After her second attempt, Bulchand was beyond thrilled to be accepted to Bloomberg Nursing, and she realized quite quickly upon entering the accelerated BScN program, that she had stumbled upon something rare, the opportunity to feel a sense of belonging and like the program was the perfect fit.
“It was unexpected and I consider myself lucky to have found my passion, my interest in nursing just grew tenfold when I started the program,” says Bulchand. “Learning about the different methods of delivering care, including trauma-informed care and Indigenous health has really shaped my worldview, not just as a nurse but as a person.”
Now, as she prepares to enter her second year of the program, Bulchand aims to help her peers and incoming students feel that same sense of belonging in the program as she steps into the role of President of the Nursing Undergraduate Society (NUS).
“For me NUS has been a huge support in terms of helping me manage my nervousness and anxiety throughout my first year and I really want to help continue that with the next cohort of students,” says Bulchand.
As student life on campus continues to shift to away from virtual settings, Bulchand is hopeful that more students will be able to engage with what NUS has to offer, including wellness options, NUS Global Health initiatives and other events that offer unique learning opportunities for students.
Above all, Bulchand wants to make NUS a safe space for students to come without fear or judgement, a place to put into practice her newfound passion for trauma-informed care. Maybe that means offering an outlet for students to destress in a safe environment and take a break or share ideas to approach the faculty with at meetings, all of these are goals that Bulchand aims to further support and feels is a responsibility she has towards her fellow students.
“Everyone in the program works really hard and sometimes you need a reminder to take a break or just a nudge saying, ‘you can do this, you’re doing great,’ that is what I want to NUS to symbolize for Bloomberg Nursing students,” says Bulchand
As she looks to the future beyond the nursing program, Bulchand believes there is a lot of room for positive change within the field of nursing. It is not lost on her that the profession is faced with a heavy degree of burn out and some nurses leaving the profession. She has watched members of her own family who are nurses, struggle at the end of a shift because they had more patients than they usually do. She knows too that working conditions need to be improved but none of this has deterred her from following her passion and desire to be a nurse.
“I don’t know how I might advocate for all these things now, but on a smaller scale, I do know that when I become a nurse, I can be that person who offers support to my team members and fellow nurses. I think stepping in, and being supportive can go a long way in boosting morale,” says Bulchand.
From the initial rejection letter to now, Bulchand says she never would have pictured herself here as incoming President of NUS and about to enter her final year in the program.
“Bloomberg Nursing students have a lot to be proud of,” says Bulchand. “I learned that I can overcome obstacles and barriers, and that has really shaped who I am today. It has taught me that sometimes you just need to believe in yourself.”