The respect is mutual

Nursing professor inspires by her example

- May 31, 2007

Colleen Kiberd: "I respect the students so much. I think they're taking on quite a challenge." (Pearce photo)

Colleen KiberdÕs brother Colin has hemophilia. When he was little and having bleeding episodes, his limbs would be packed in ice to slow the bleeding before he could be taken to a hospital for treatment.

ÒI could hear him crying at night. I would go in and move the ice packs around and try to make him more comfortable,” she recalls, in her office in the Forrest Building. ÒI really think thatÕs why I chose to become a nurse. Because of my brother.”

The same caring and compassion that Prof. Kiberd brought to the bedside through 30 years of nursing is what she tries to instill in her students. And she is beloved for it Ñ she has won the Nurse Educator Appreciation Award, voted on by students, every year (save one) in the past decade.

ÒI really believe that sheÕs responsible for creating the excellent nurses that come out of this program,” says Jennifer Gurney, whoÕs graduating this spring with a BScN and has a job lined up at the IWK Health Centre. ÒShe inspires you to be excellent Ñ not merely adequate Ñ in what you do for patient and family care.”

At Dalhousie since 1994, Prof. Kiberd teaches nursing students in the undergraduate program, both in classroom and clinical settings. She also supervises MasterÕs policy practicum students.

ÒNursing is not an easy route. Your every emotion is taxed. Your intellectual abilities are challenged. The things you encounter in a 24-hour period vary greatly. So you really have to know what youÕre doing,” says Prof. Kiberd, 51, a mother of three. ÒI respect the students so much. I think theyÕre taking on quite a challenge.”

The respect is mutual. Prof. Kiberd teaches by example. Bringing her students to the cardiology ward at the Halifax Infirmary Site, sheÕll give patients their medicine, make assessments and consult with the healthcare team. As well, her personal experiences inform her lectures back in the classroom.

ÒShe knows her stuff, but itÕs more than that,” says graduating student Pamela Collier, bound for a job at the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary, Alberta. ÒSheÕs the person that you go to if youÕve got a problem.

ÒI remember I was nervous about a clinical and I came to see her,” she continues. ÒShe took me and closed the door. She talked me through it. If it hadnÕt been for that, for her encouragement and extra support, I donÕt think I would have handled it nearly so well.”

Adds Prof. Kiberd: ÒHow we mould our students is a reflection of ourselves as educators. I want my graduates to be fearless and energetic, yet supremely caring individuals. I want them to grasp opportunity but practice competently. I do not want them to walk away from ill patients, but to face their own fears and provide comfort and care.”


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