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The Lifelong Learning of Rhonda Wigglesworth-Fafard

As soon as thirteen-year-old Rhonda Wigglesworth started volunteering as a candy striper at Yorkton Regional Hospital, she knew she wanted to become a nurse. “I observed nurses first-hand working on the pediatrics unit and the power they had to create change and provide support for a family during a stressful time. I saw nurses take the time to answer the family’s questions and the care they demonstrated. The nurses were a catalyst for taking away the family’s fear.”

Fast-forward to today and Rhonda is raising her own family while fulfilling her childhood dream working as a Nursing Research Facilitator for Interior Health. Rhonda is also busy completing her Masters in Health Studies: Leadership through Athabasca University with support from the Registered Nurses Foundation of British Columbia (RNFBC) as the first recipient of the Bernadet Ratsoy Memorial Bursary.

When Rhonda embarked upon her Masters program, she learned through her manager at Interior Health about RNFBC and how RNFBC could help her. She applied for a bursary knowing her Masters would end up totaling $25,000.

And help from RNFBC came just in time. Last year, Rhonda knew she would likely have to postpone her studies due to personal circumstances. When she found out last December that she would receive a bursary, Rhonda was able to continue on with her studies. “I was working full-time with a young family. The impact of the support from RNFBC was huge. Having that support…it is difficult to pay for everything life brings while completing that next level of education. I am so grateful to Bernadet and her bursary; I was able to continue my studies without a delay.”

Rhonda’s future career aspirations include “being a role model for other nurses on a team where I am creating an environment that supports evidence based practice, and focuses on providing the best quality and safety for patients and staff. I want to lead and support people for positive change.” Bernadet Ratsoy’s legacy lives on today – supporting the dreams of a full-time nurse and mother to be a leader in health care.

Rhonda cannot deny the similarities between Bernadet’s career path and her own and how fitting she is the first recipient of Bernadet’s bursary. “When I read about Bernadet’s life, I was so moved about how Bernadet made a difference. It was an honour to receive the bursary.”

When asked if she believes nurses make the world a better place, Rhonda responds, “Yes, I do! I have always thought that. I am proud to call myself a nurse.” Words well said.

Written by Sheri Urquhart based on an interview with Rhonda Wigglesworth-Fafard in March of 2011. Photos provided by Rhonda Wigglesworth-Fafard.