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“What will you do next?” Preparing for a career in nursing

“What will you do next?” Preparing for a career in nursing

Convocation is in the air right now at Queen’s. Almost every day, graduates in gowns can be spotted on campus, smiling, carrying flowers and posing for pictures. On Monday last week, our nursing graduates crossed the stage to receive their degrees in Grant Hall. As they did so, they moved on to a new chapter in their lives. And I am sure that now, more than ever (and like all of the other recent graduates across campus), they have been asked the age-old question: “what will you do next?”

At a time like convocation, that question can seem overwhelming. And yet, for a nursing graduate, the options of “what to do next” are abundant. The School of Nursing does a fantastic job of preparing its graduates for their future career choices.

“Our students have clinical experiences during their program across many settings and that helps them decide in which area they would like to work on graduation. Many of the students already have jobs and are working already, others have job offers to start later in the summer. Queen’s nursing graduates are highly regarded and often are offered positions when others are turned away. Several of the graduates are working at KGH and have already asked about helping in the laboratories and Clinical Education Centre,” says Dr. Jennifer Medves, Vice-Dean (Health Sciences) and Director of the School of Nursing.

To understand the diversity of career paths that a nursing graduate can take, you need look no further than the Queen’s Nursing Project. Born out of the school’s 75th anniversary celebrations, the project celebrates alumni by publishing stories about their careers, and features graduates from the Class of 2015 all the way back to the Class of 1965. The alumni profiles include individuals who work in the fields of health administration, health policy, public health, health promotion, complex continuing care, acute care and education, just to name a few.

On Monday, our graduating students heard about another interesting career path for a nurse from Dr. Eileen Hutton, BNSc ’74, who received an honorary degree in science. After earning her undergraduate degree, Eileen went on to study at the University of Toronto, and earned a master’s degree in nursing science and a PhD in clinical epidemiology. She then earned a midwifery certificate from the Michener Institute of Applied Health Sciences.1

These qualifications positioned Eileen to work in maternity nursing and midwifery, and early in her career she worked in remote communities in Labrador and British Columbia. “The nursing program at Queen’s gave me a strong foundation and well prepared me to deal with challenge. The instructors always said we should go out in pairs because the system needs change….that idea stayed with me – that the system needs change, and that change is possible. I think that was very formative for me,” said Dr. Hutton

Today, Dr Hutton, professor, is Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Director of the Midwifery program at McMaster University, and she is cross-appointed in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Eileen is a highly acclaimed researcher who has led numerous clinical studies. She is published widely in international journals on a variety of topics relevant to midwifery and obstetrics, including twin birth, late and early clamping of the umbilical cord in term neonates, vaginal birth after caesarean section, sterile water injections for labour pain relief, and home birth. 1

“A degree in nursing is a foundation that can lead to a multitude of careers in nursing practice and may lead to a career in academia. We were delighted to host Dr. Hutton at our convocation and she has had a varied and interesting career and is an example to the students that truly, anything is possible,” says Dr. Medves.

Congratulations to Dr. Eileen Hutton, and to the Queen’s Nursing Class of 2016. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

Please share your thoughts by commenting on the blog, or better yet, drop by the Macklem House…my door is always open.


Thank you to Jen Valberg for her assistance in writing this blog.



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