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Stories

As St. Joseph’s School of Nursing Celebrates 100 years, please meet Linda Bitterman, Alumnae Executive – Her Nursing Journey and Legacy..

Last winter our St. Joseph’s Alumnae executive were excited, busily planning our 100th year anniversary in 2020 when COVID-19 hit. This got me thinking back to my early nursing days and realized how much a bursary can help a student nurse and how very important the established bursaries like St. Joseph’s are. In talking with RNFBC on how to promote our bursary, we thought what better way than celebrating St. Joseph’s SON 100th anniversary with a story about my personal nursing journey and legacy.

Many students know that nursing is going to be their chosen career, but that wasn’t me! As a teen, I was obsessed with my sports, ie. basketball and skating in the winter, and softball all summer! So, my dream was to be a P. E. Teacher. That all changed in a moment’s time at age 16 when I was a passenger in a head-on 3 car collision. There were 15 young people involved, with one dead and all but one injured, and most with fractures. This was in the days before seat belts so I was sent flying through the front windshield. The boy I was with, who was our driver, pulled me out of the car then laid down and died. He had severed his aorta. I had multiple injuries, internal bleeding, head injury, and over 130 sutures to my face and neck (apparently the nurses counted them. I wouldn’t know as I was still unconscious!). I’m telling you all this because, as a result of my time in the hospital, and all I saw and heard changed the course of my life! I got to really like most of my nurses, but there was one that was very impatient with me. I remember her forcing red Jello on me, and telling me if I didn’t eat it I’d have to have the IV back in! It took a lot of years before I could eat red Jello on my own! I also remember the staff talking about me but I couldn’t open my eyes or say anything! This was something I was very aware of when I was nursing and always remember the sensitivity of the patient’s feelings. Because of my injuries I was out of high school for 2 years before I was accepted at St. Joseph’s here in Victoria. I would always get the same thing told to me – “your marks are good, but we can’t take a chance on you, health-wise.” Thank God for the wonderful nuns who were willing to give me a chance! So I graduated in 1964, but did have to make up about 5 months because of having pneumonia in my last year, but I did make it!

My 1964 Graduating Class

>55 years later….that’s me in the centre in a striped sweater!

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Lest We Forget….

As November 11th fast approaches, it is the time to reflect on all the selfless contributions that our troops and medical corps made to ensure that we could all enjoy the life we share in 2019.  One of those people was respected nurse, Ruth Echo (Littlejohn) Mcllrath Bursary.  RNFBC is so proud to be able to carry on her legacy through the Ruth Echo (Littlejohn) McIllrath Bursary that has been set up through the generous legacy gift through the estate of her niece, Fern Irwin who held her aunt in the highest esteem.

Born on June 2, 1913 in Arcola, Saskatchewan, Ruth came to Vancouver and worked at Vancouver General Hospital until 1942. She then joined the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps to serve overseas in World War II and was recruited to the hospital ship, Lady Nelson, Canada’s first hospital ship, where she – along with 14 nursing sisters cared for up to 500 sick and wounded patients on trips from battle zones back to England or Canada. The Lady Nelson was torpedoed by a U- Boat while in dock in Italy and she climbed back on board their devastated ship to care for casualties, mostly with extreme burns. She then spent the rest of her life caring for and working on behalf of Canada’s veterans.

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Providing sustenance in a war zone

by Alida Fernhout, RN MPH

As a Registered Nurse, my work has taken me from Africa and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to my current home in the Northwest Territories. But while the work has been worthwhile and rewarding, I’ve sometimes wondered whether I was really making a difference.

My experience a few years ago in South Sudan showed me the answer is a definite yes, although the impact of my contribution can often be of the intangible sort.

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Lest we forget…

As November 11 approaches and we honor those who have and continue to defend Canada, with their commitment but often with their lives.  So at this time we would like to not only thank them but to recognize the vital role nursing has had in all their lives during armed conflict and afterwards…..so many stories of bravery and dedication.  One such story is that of Ruth Echo McIlrath.  Her memory is honored in a bursary set up by her niece Fern Irwin and will be awarded in 2018.  Read about Ruth’s story on our news feed.  Thank you veterans…we will not forget!

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Salamata Bah – From Guinea Republic to Prince George

Salamata attends UNBC and was a 2016 bursary recipient and forwarded this lovely letter of appreciation.

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“June’s Story” by Kate Shields – 2016 Bursary Winner

An event that has forever changed my family and significantly influenced who I am today is one of my sister’s battle for life.  This terrible ordeal has created how I envision myself caring for patients and their families in the future as I graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree and become a Registered Nurse.

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April Bakonyi – On Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

“I strongly feel nurses play a large role in making the world a better place. The nurse-patient relationship is such a powerful connection. We are often the one with the patient 24/7 seeing them at their worst and working with them to achieve their best. We empower, encourage and support patients through some of the toughest times of their lives”.

After graduating in nursing in 2007, April Bakonyi worked for four years in Toronto on a medical-surgical floor. In looking to fulfil more of a leadership role April decided to pursue a career as a Nurse Practitioner.

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Letter of Thanks from Naureen Hussainaly

I am writing to thank you for your generous RNABC Nursing Education Bursary. I was very happy and appreciative to learn that I was selected as the recipient of your bursary. When I learnt of this bursary through my school, BCIT, I knew that this was something I should apply to.

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Kate Saunders: On the Value of Being an RNFBC Bursary Winner

If you ever wondered how important your support to RNFBC is for aspiring nurses, we would like to introduce you to Kate Saunders. Mother to five-year-old Jack, Kate spends most of her spare time working two jobs, as a Research Assistant for the CAMEO Program with the BC Cancer Agency and as an employed student nurse at the UBC Hospital.

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Jodi Meacher Embraces a New Career as an ER Nurse

Jodi Meacher is the first recipient of the Mabel and Henry Doree Family Memorial Bursary with RNFBC. Jodi recently graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing and is now working in the Emergency Department at Lions Gate Hospital. “I love the thrill of the unknown arriving at any time and the quick thinking required for the position.” Jodi completed her final preceptorship this past spring at the Lions Gate Emergency Department before accepting her new full time position. Jodi decided in 2008 to become a nurse and was then accepted to the UBC School of Nursing.
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