Students honour Dal nurse manager with national award

- November 7, 2017

Christina Elgee, nurse manager at Dal and national award recipient. (Jordan Zarvie photo)
Christina Elgee, nurse manager at Dal and national award recipient. (Jordan Zarvie photo)

It’s always nice to be recognized for the work you do. It’s even nicer to be recognized on a national level by the students you work with.

Christina Elgee, the nurse manager for Dalhousie Student Health & Wellness, recently received the 2017 Canadian Nursing Students’ Association Award for the Recognition of Preceptors and Mentors.

Elgee was nominated by former Nursing student, Martha Paynter, and the class of 2017 for the contribution she has made to the education of Nursing students at Dalhousie, her progressive thinking and her passion for social justice.

“Christina is the most creative, progressive nurse leader,” says Paynter. “She trusts her students, enables their success, and supports their vision.”

Josh Vriends, a second-year accelerated Nursing student, says Elgee was the ideal person to receive the award because of her dedication to students.

“Christina’s always trying to come up with innovative new ideas to engage with students and promote health and wellness,” he says. “She's also very supportive of all her student staff and is flexible with our sometimes crazy schedules.”

Hands-on experience for students

Every year Elgee works with 50-60 nursing students in the undergraduate and accelerated programs. As their preceptor, she helps them turn their academic knowledge into hands-on clinical experience.

“My goal is to ensure students get a holistic wellness experience,” says Elgee. “Students learn to practice nursing in a practical way and get real-world experience.”

As the nurse manager with Student Health & Wellness, her focus is on student wellness outreach and engagement for which she develops programming to educate students in sexual health, mental health, sleep, and alcohol and substance harm reduction.

“Our team works diligently to ensure we are meeting students’ needs,” says Elgee. “We try to improve students’ wellness at every level, based on their feedback, data, research, and years of experience.”

Elgee’s connections with the School of Nursing allow for many nursing students to be involved with program development and implementation, including the STI clinics held twice a week. Ainsley Lofstedt, the Student Health & Wellness Outreach intern, credits Elgee’s unwavering support for her smooth transition into a new role.

“Christina keeps my imposter syndrome in check, supports my decisions, and has taught me so much as a mentor,” says Lofstedt. “I consider myself very lucky to have a boss who makes time to check in with me even when I just want to chat about life."

A focus on student wellness

Elgee is also “the nurse” behind the “Ask a Nurse!” service run by Student Health & Wellness. The online program provides an outlet for students to ask uncomfortable or embarrassing health-related questions anonymously. “Think of it like the ‘question box’ from Sex-Ed in high school,” she says.

Elgee has a master’s in Public Health and is passionate about creating health equity for every Dalhousie student. She sees student wellness as a perfect combination of education, harm reduction and prevention.

“I love working with students as they are such a diverse group with unique needs—I have a lot to learn from them too,” she says. “I'm honoured to know that I'm having a positive impact on future health professionals. It feels wonderful!”


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