Happy Nursing Week 2022 – Our nurses to know

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 Krystal Forrest, RN, Emergency Department

Krystal Forrest, Registered Nurse in the IWK Emergency Department for 14 years and Project Manager for the IWK TREKK Parent Video Project. The project is based on input from community parent and health care provider focus groups and IWK expertise on common emergency department visits. Our team worked with a vendor to produce three videos about common clinical conditions impacting children and adolescents in Nova Scotia. Topics selected for the three videos include: Febrile Seizure, Hand Foot Mouth and Procedural Sedation. Each video is available in English, Arabic, Mi’kmaq, and French. The project is nearing completion and the videos will be accessible soon.

From a young age I always enjoyed making other people feel better. I quickly realized that nursing was a great career for me to pursue. As a student nurse I did a placement at the IWK Emergency Department and knew instantly I would end up working there when I graduated. I have always been passionate about emergency care and have recently accepted a new challenge with a second career as a firefighter.

Throughout the pandemic I remember telling myself multiple times that this is what I signed up for as a nurse. I felt proud to be part of the IWK Emergency Department and was ready to provide care to those in need. I never questioned anything except what changes I needed to integrate into my job that day based on new information. Being part of what can be “the worst day of somebody’s life” can be difficult so I will continue to do my best to support, educate, empower, and encourage those around me

I do not have one single proudest moment as a nurse but am grateful to have had many moments of feeling like I made a difference in someone’s life. Sometimes a simple “thank you” goes a long way.

If I was able to have a nursing superpower it would be the ability to instantly allow children and adolescents to acknowledge their potential and recognize their worth. These years are difficult, and it is seemingly more difficult now that our society is so advanced and technological.

 Marge Ancliffe, NP, Hematology/Oncology

My name is Marge Ancliffe, and I am a nurse practitioner with the inpatient pediatric hematology/oncology service on 6-Link. I never dreamt of being a nurse when I was younger; I am a first-generation nurse in my family.I completed a Kinesiology degree at STFX and had thoughts of pursuing physiotherapy afterwards. A good friend of mine asked if I was interested in applying for the accelerated nursing program with her and the rest is history! I went on to complete a Master of Nursing degree at Dalhousie and have been practicing in various NP roles ever since.

In the early days, we were unsure how the Covid-19 virus was going to affect our immunocompromised pediatric oncology population. Our team worked closely with patients, families, and IPAC to implement strategies to lessen the risk of exposure during hospital admissions. Preventing a Covid outbreak in our unit was truly a collaborative effort!

My proudest moment as a nurse so far is having the courage to work in different roles and in different provinces. It has provided me with excellent opportunities to view different healthcare perspectives and meet many great people along the way!

My first choice for a nursing superpower would be the ability to eliminate childhood cancer. It is difficult to understand the many impacts of a pediatric cancer diagnosis on a family until you experience or witness it first-hand. My

Tanya Vandale, Clinical Leader of Development & Perioperative Registered Nurse in Women’s Perioperative Services in the Women’s and Newborn Health Program

My name is Tanya Vandale and I hold dual roles of clinical leader of development (educator ) & Perioperative Registered Nurse in Women’s Perioperative Services in the Women’s and Newborn Health Program.

I initially enrolled in university in pursuit of a Science degree and was accepted in the nursing program at Dalhousie after my second year. Once I began clinical, I knew that this was exactly where I needed to be. Providing safe and compassionate care to patients using critical thinking skills was and continues to be my passion!

The pandemic has provided many challenges for our area over the last 2 years. I have felt many strong emotions both personally and professionally since the beginning of the pandemic and even into the present. In my role as a perioperative nurse, caring for covid patients who require surgery, can be challenging. Being part of such an amazing team in the Women’s OR & PACU makes the challenge manageable! The team consists of nursing, surgeons, anesthetists, support staff and includes strong management support. We have been together throughout this entire pandemic working together to protect each other while providing safe and compassionate care to our patients!

After 23 years of nursing, I am unable to choose just one proud moment! I had an opportunity to do “travel nursing” early in my nursing career and this had provided me with many opportunities! I returned to my home, here in Nova Scotia with many new skills which included being able to adapt to changing situations. This skill has been crucial in both of my current roles. I have now worked as a perioperative nurse for the past 17 years and working as part of a team is something I really enjoy!

The nursing power I would choose would be “listening”. Patients, families, and colleagues appreciate your attention. Being present for them to express their concerns is extremely important. Being heard and acknowledged provides a sense of being cared for- I know this first hand as I’ve experienced (and continue to experience) this both as both a patient and a colleague!

April, Connolly, Family Care Coordinator in the Hematology/Oncology

Hi! My name is April Connolly. I am a Family Care Coordinator in the Hematology/Oncology program at the IWK. I have the pleasure of working with the sweetest children diagnosed with cancer and their families. When I was a teenager, I was diagnosed with lymphoma and was a patient at the IWK. The nurses, physicians, and allied health made such a positive impact on my family’s life. They inspired me to become a Pediatric Oncology Nurse.

I feel very fortunate to work at the IWK. Our team are so supportive of one another, especially over these past 2 years. The most challenging part of working through this pandemic has been watching our families deal with the stress of diagnosis, while separated from their other children and loved ones at home due to our necessary visitor restrictions.

As a Family Care Coordinator, we work closely with children and families from the start of their oncology journey to the end of therapy and beyond. We help children and their families celebrate the joyful event of completing therapy by organizing a bell ringing ceremony. Needless to say, there are many happy tears shed by family and staff. I am so proud of these children and families, for their bravery and for the unwavering care they provide to their children throughout long, challenging journeys.

If I could choose a nursing superpower, it would be to spread hope even on the darkest days

Jill Murphy, Registered Nurse, Birth Unit

My name is Jill Murphy, and I am a Registered Nurse on the Birth Unit. Both of my parents worked in healthcare, so I was surrounded by the topic growing up. This encouraged me to explore options in the healthcare field. Being able to create empathetic relationships while working with families and helping them through difficult times was something I wanted to be a part of!

The past 2 years have been difficult for everyone. Working in healthcare during this time and getting to be involved in birth experiences has truly felt like a privilege. I am so grateful for my co-workers and support system for always being there to encourage me.

If I could choose a nursing superpower it would be to see the future!

Joanne Gallant, Clinical Leader of Development,  Children’s Health Ambulatory Surgical Care

My name is Joanne Gallant and I’m currently the Clinical Leader of Development for Children’s Health Ambulatory Surgical Care. It’s a lengthy title that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue! My role is similar to that of a nurse educator, and I support all surgical clinics in the Children’s Health Program with any educational projects they have like the orientation of new staff, policy development, research, nursing student placement, patient/family education, and many other things!

I’ve always been drawn to caregiving roles, especially those involving children, ever since I took my first babysitting job as a pre-teen. As a young adult, I worked as a nanny, a camp counselor, and volunteered with Best Buddies. After I completed a degree in Biology, I was looking for a professional program that could combine my love of being around people with the joy of learning science. Nursing was a natural fit since it allowed me to use the foundations of what I learned in my biology degree, and I could also establish meaningful connections with my patients and families.

My roles during the pandemic have been quite varied. I worked some of the first shifts in the Pandemic Assessment Centre at the IWK and then I moved into the Clinical Leader role in the Pandemic Response Unit (PRU). Those early weeks were stressful for our entire team because there was still a lot we didn’t
know about how the pandemic was going to go. Through my work in the PRU, I helped care for patients and families at the IWK and I helped lead the team that went to support our colleagues at Northwood. After my time in PRU, I was one of the Clinical Leaders of the Primary Assessment Centre at the IWK until the summer of 2021. I’ve been fortunate to be able to participate in so many different ways to the pandemic response in our province and although it was an incredibly challenging time as a nurse, it was extremely rewarding to be a part of many teams that were so dedicated to doing their part.

I don’t know if I have a single proudest moment, but many of my proudest memories are from my time working in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). I’m so proud of the time I spent working there, of the resiliency and hope I saw in my patients and families, and the strength and abilities of the whole PICU team. I learned so much about nursing and life in general in the several years I worked there. I carry those memories and lessons with me in whatever role I take on because they remind me just how important it is to be a nurse.

If I could choose a nursing superpower it would be to have super speed! Since I cover so many different clinical areas that are spread out across the health centre, I’d love to be able to go from one clinic to the next instantly. It would not only make for a fun way to travel through the hospital, but it would make my days much more efficient!


Melissa Peters, Unit Coordinator, AIS

My name is Melissa Peters, I am the Unit Coordinator on the 24/7 Inpatient Unit for adolescents with concurrent addictions and mental health concerns. I work at Adolescent Intensive Services. I have three amazing Aunts who all work in various fields of nursing. I always looked up to these incredible women growing up, it was my great admiration for them & the work that they did helping others along with the encouragement of my Mom that drew me to the field of nursing.

The pandemic has presented numerous challenges for me along with healthcare workers everywhere. It has been exhausting & at times feeling like we are taking one step forward and two steps back. What I have found most inspiring throughout the shortages and many, many process changes has been working with my co-workers to utilize every resource to its maximum potential, so we can collectively provide the best support possible to our patients, families, AND each other. I’m so grateful for my remarkable co-workers!

My proudest moment as a nurse is not isolated to one situation or interaction but rather the work, I’m fortunate to do as a support for my co-workers and seeing them build and master their skills working with clients and families. Watching my co-workers thrive, be confident and utilize new skills in practice that help our patients are always moments where I feel immense joy and pride in my work.

My nursing superpower would be that I could chart telepathically – with a magic pen that followed me around!


Andrea Melanson, Discharge Coordinator, NICU

Hi there my name is Andrea Melanson. I am currently the discharge coordinator in the Neonatal Intensive Care. While I have been a nurse for 27 years, 23 years have been in the IWK NICU. While I have held many positions within the NICU, being the Discharge Coordinator is where I thrive.

All my life I have been in love with children, all I ever wanted was to be around babies. My cousin was a labour and delivery nurse and I looked up to her. That she got to go to work with families in the most special moment of their lives, helping babies come into the world. I couldn’t imagine anything better than that.

During the pandemic, I wasn’t providing direct patient care, however, my role is to help families get home safely and healthy. For me, it was looking at ways we could get families home as quickly and safely as possible to minimize their risks of exposure. Helping families connect virtually with loved ones became a very large part of my role. I also helped set up virtual rounds in NICU. This provided an extra layer of protection for our families and our staff. It helped everyone’s social distance and allowed parents to join rounds from home. Encouraging them to be integrated into decision-making for their child when they could not be here in person.

My proudest moment as a nurse is seeing these tiny babies beat the odds and go home with their families. The pure joy on a family’s face when they hear that they will be going home in the next few days when they walk out the door with their baby knowing they have been given the resources they need to succeed at home.

My superpower would be to send all babies home happy and healthy with no ongoing medical issues. For families to enjoy life without fear or worry of what comes next.


Christa McGuirk, Clinical Leader of Development, Hematology, Oncology and Nephrology

My name is Christa McGuirk RN, CPHON, CNeph© and I’m a Clinical Leader of Development in hematology, Oncology and Nephrology.

Being a nurse is all I can ever recall wanting to be when I grew up. My Mom was a nurse and seeing the impact that she made and how much she loved being a nurse certainly influenced my decision to become a nurse.

The pandemic has been difficult for so many including health care workers. I am grateful to have had the ability to continually come to work every day to support our staff during the pandemic.

I don’t have one single proudest nursing moment I have 27 years filled with proud moments caring for patients and families and supporting staff learning needs.

The nursing superpower I would choose is to have the ability to communicate and understand everyone so my patients and families would never have to worry about communicating their needs.


Debbie Balsor,  Nurse Coordinator, Complex Care Program

My name is Debbie Balsor, and I am the Nurse Coordinator of the Complex Care Program at the IWK. More than being drawn to nursing as a profession, I was drawn to the qualities of a nurse and what I felt it meant to be a nurse. I knew that I wanted to help others in ways that they might not be able to help themselves. I kn

ew that I wanted to learn to be a kinder and more patient person. I wanted to understand more about both the human condition and the human body. Nursing felt like a path to help me learn and grow in all those ways.

During the pandemic, I have been fortunate to continue to practice in my care area. Our clinic works with children with medical complexity and their families, and it has been a very difficult and very isolating time for many of them. I am grateful to have been able to stay in my position to support these families as outpatients during the pandemic, to help keep them connected to services, care, and resources, and hopefully help them not feel so alone in a time that has been so scary for so many.

It’s hard to pin down just one proud moment as a nurse. Honestly, my days are full of proud moments. I am so proud when I look around me at the people I work with and the exceptional kindness, diligence, and intelligence they show as they go about their days. From helping families carry supplies when their arms are full, singing songs at a patient’s bedside, persistently and passionately advocating for our patients and families, arranging for needs to be met at home when a very complex child is being discharged from the hospital, and supporting families through loss and grief, I see caring all around me; my heart can’t help but b

e very proud and very grateful.

If I could choose a nursing superpower, it would be the power to find respite care and funding support for all families of children with medical complexity. These families work so hard and take such amazing care of their children; they deserve all the help and support they need to take care of themselves and meet their children’s needs.


Leah Pink, Nurse Practitioner, Women’s Ambulatory Program

When I was in university I started out in psychology and environmental/public health. Toward the end of the program, a close family member became ill. It was a difficult and frightening experience. I got a true s

napshot of the healthcare system and it struck me how invaluable the nurses were to our family. They p

rovided exceptional care, leaning in when things were at their worst. I was in awe of their clinical skills and the important emotional work that they did with their families. This made such an impression on me that I finished my program later that year and started a second entry-level nursing program the following September.

Working in healthcare during a pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge, especially as a single parent. Finding a way to balance work and home life has never been more difficult for nurses. Through ever-changing guidelines, restrictions, school closures and our own illnesses, here at the IWK nurses have continued to be there, never losing sight of our goal to provide the best possible care for our patient population. At the same time, we recognize that for us to be the best in our roles we need to take care of each other, and that is something we strive for at the IWK.

Early in my career I was involved in researching the nursing work environment and the impact that has on quality of care. In my clinical work, I have always been fulfilled when I can help patients achieve their goals and

improve their quality of life. My proudest moments have been in the creation of innovative programs that bring together my professional values of excellence in nursing care with optimizing the work environment. A most recent example of this, and something I am very proud of, is

the creation of new programs for chronic pain related to endometriosis and in pelvic floor health. By creating innovative multidisciplinary programs, we are improving access to and quality of patient care as well as work life satisfaction.

If you have ever worked in an ICU setting or in fact anywhere nurses work, you will have likely witnessed what creative and innovative pro

blem solvers nurses can be. That is the superpower I would choose. The beauty of nursing is that we are so diverse in our backgrounds, experiences, and skillsets, we can all benefit from making connections and getting involved in collaborative work. Together we can accomplish anything

Nicole Evanson, Clinical Leader, ED

I have always enjoyed learning and teaching about health and physiology (the way the body works). My parents are teachers, nursing stood out to be as a route to be able to continue to learn about what interested me and teach and help others at the same time. Nursing can be a lot of teaching, and I spend a lot of time helping my patients and families understand what is going on with their bodies. In fact that’s the part I enjoy most!
IWK Nurses continue to “answer the call” throughout the pandemic. What has that been like for you?

In the emergency department we must be prepared for anything and everything. In the clinical leader role, I have spent most of the time working on processes and practices to help keep our families and staff safe. We really scaled everything back to basics, keeping only what was necessary to do our jobs at the bedside, and reimaging how people flowed through and around our department to minimize congestion. We worked a lot on improving our infection control practices keeping everyone safe, and due to this our hand hygiene audit rates increased and our adherence to infection control strategies has continued. Of course, I spend a lot of time stressed about staffing and schedules, such is the nature of my current role, but overall, I’ve been impressed with the way our Emergency Department team has continued to work together and weather the storm of constant change.

I would say my proudest moments as a nurse throughout my career have been related to mentoring and precepting. Helping a new staff nurse or a student nurse gain confidence in an area and grow into a self-assured and accountable nurse is satisfying and something that always makes my heart happy!

I’m going to date myself here a bit …. but I’d love it if I could be like Inspector Gadget and just say “go go gadget…. helicopter” and I’d be swiftly off and helping out whenever I was needed, or “go go gadget IV” and every time I’d get the IV in on the first shot, and “go go gadget calculator” and all my complicated medication calculations would be perfect and make sense on the first go!


Liz Greene, RN, Perinatal Center

My name is Liz Greene I am a registered nurse and work in Perinatal Center at the IWK. I was drawn to the nursing profession to help care for my clients and help give them a better experience. I am passionate about being a client advocate and helping my clients be self-advocate. I am also dedicated to helping all cultures have a good experience at the IWK.

The pandemic has been a challenge for all my work colleges with staffing shortages and all the unknowns of living and working through a pandemic. I feel that all this probably made the team stronger.

I have so many proud moments it’s hard to pick one, but probably the one that comes to mind first is the 1st baby I ever delivered more than 30 years ago. It would have to be Florence Nightingale the mother of all nurses.


Rebecca de Champlain, Clinical Lead, ED Redevelopment Project

Rebecca (Becky) de Champlain. My current role is the Clinical Lead for the ED Redevelopment Project. I work with the Emergency Department. I always wanted to work in healthcare. I was drawn to the idea of a career in the sciences that allowed me to make a direct impact on someone’s life. I like the human interaction element of the work. My aunt had a long and satisfying career as a nurse and I always regarded her as belonging to such a noble profession. She was an inspiration for me.

All of us have experienced changes in our work and personal lives due to the pandemic. I have learned that I need to be flexible and available to help support our team when necessary. I was really proud of my master’s thesis work on compassion fatigue and burnout in pediatric nurses. I was happy to be able to publish my work and share it at conferences. I think it helped to highlight this issue in our profession. I’m really grateful to my supervisors who mentored me through the process and especially grateful to the pediatric nurses at the IWK who participated in the research.

X-ray vision would be a really cool superpower in the ED, ha ha! In all seriousness though, I think really experienced nurses over time develop the power to predict the future. We know what patients are likely to deteriorate, what will make them better and can feel a crisis on the horizon before it happens. We get very good at putting out fires.


Wendy Johnson, RN, Clinical Leader Operations, IWK Dentistry

As I considered my options at end of high school, I knew I wanted to be in service/helping in some way. I considered Psychology but then truly felt Nursing would be a good fit for me and my goals. Once I started at the Halifax Infirmary in 1987, I never looked back. Caring, kindness, and helping when others are often in their most difficult times are core values for me. Nursing is the best profession. You can truly do so many different things. I knew right away that Pediatrics was my calling. I received the Pediatric nursing award after graduating from Nursing School. I gained my ‘feet’ on 5 South (Now MSNU)- then went on to Preop clinics and then Dentistry as the first nurse in a role in that Department. I have been privileged to be able to ‘grow up’ at the IWK, and develop experience and skills in Leadership, communication, and patient care from all these roles.

February 2020, I was at a meeting, and we were saying “do you really think this will be a Pandemic?” Then by March 15, 2020, we were in it. I had volunteered to work off-hours in the initial Pandemic Testing site. We started in the Child Life Hut in the Play Garden. Then we were off to move into ENT. I showed up and was asked to be Clinical Leader, and I agreed. It meant I needed to partly leave the Dental clinic- and balance both of those roles. I think the biggest thing at that time was managing a fast-moving and ever-changing environment and everyone’s fear at that time. Patients, families, staff were all scared of this unknown virus… A Pandemic? This was all so new. We are now at the end or middle of the 6th wave and so many changes!!! I met so many new nurses and allied health staff that were professional and caring. We quickly came together to care for our patients and families and each other. It has truly been a ride that was very busy, frustrating, scary, but also hopeful with lots of moments of laughter and care.

In a 35-year career, a proudest moment is difficult to choose. I have so many patients and families and team members, that I fondly remember. I think for me personally, I would choose the moment when I was asked to take on the role of Clinical Leader of Operations for the Pandemic Assessment Clinic. I had been doing my role in Dentistry for 20 years (and loving it and my team!) The acknowledgement of skills and leadership that I could bring to this role was validating. It also challenged me to bring all my skills together quickly and dig deep in my resource and resilience, to help a team come together to meet the needs of the Pandemic and our patients.

Spread the meaning of truly caring for someone, seeing their story, and valuing their lived experience. I know that sounds a bit warm and fuzzy, but that’s also who I am!
I would also encourage new nurses to say yes when asked to take on additional responsibilities. Going outside your comfort zone takes you on great journeys.