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Two UofGH ECS alumni pursuing careers in nursing

Josephine Kemeh and Justine Zupancic

University of Guelph-Humber Early Childhood Studies alumni Josephine Kemeh and Justine Zupancic always knew they wanted to help people, but it wasn’t until their fourth-year placements that they discovered how best to apply that sense of compassion and care.

Both students completed placements at hospitals in their final year before graduating UofGH. During those field placements, their roles centred on providing education and play to children and their families in a variety of areas around the hospital. Within that environment, both students discovered how broad their interest in healthcare really was.

Now, Kemeh and Zupancic are classmates enrolled in the University of Toronto’s accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

“My passion has always been to work with children, meeting their diverse developmental needs. During my last year at UofGH, I had my placement at the hospital working with children who would come in for day surgeries or who were on admission,” Kemeh recalled. “I was able to witness compassionate care, which is when you see someone in pain and do something to help relieve their pain.

“I wanted to be a part of it. My placement at the hospital sparked my interest in working in the healthcare environment.”

“(My placement) allowed me to discover the wide array of different nursing specialties, and talk to nurses as well as students in the field,” reflected Zupancic. “By my third week, I was convinced and began to look up the application process to become a registered nurse.

“With the support of the professors and students at UofGH and the hospital, I managed to receive an acceptance letter.”

A diversity of duties

Since enrolling in the Nursing program, Zupancic and Kemeh have found no shortage of variety in terms of their work environments and tasks.

Zupancic has completed rotations in cardiovascular surgery, pediatrics, general internal medicine, mental health, geriatrics and postpartum, with shadow opportunities in a variety of intensive care units, clinics, and the operating room.

“This program has allowed me to experience a wide variety of clinical placements in the healthcare field, which provide opportunity for application of skills learned in class, such as medication administration, assessment, and practice of many procedures,” she said.

Kemeh likewise has done rotations in geriatrics, maternity and a mental health unit that specializes in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. Some of the work that she’s performed includes checking vital signs of patients, head-to-toe assessments, performing post-partum assessments, and giving newborn babies their first bath.

“With each clinical experience, I get to build upon my therapeutic nursing skills and establish nurse-client relationships,” Kemeh said.

“I love how in the health care environment each day is always filled with new challenges and learning opportunities.”

The path from Early Childhood Studies

Though some might not have expected an ECS degree to set the groundwork for a career in Nursing, Kemeh and Zupancic in fact say their studies at UofGH left them well-prepared for their post-graduate studies.

“Studying at UofGH laid the foundation for Nursing education by equipping me with the necessary skills needed,” said Kemeh, noting that the U of T program is only open to applicants who already have a University degree.

“The rigorous training at UofGH has adequately prepared me for the nursing program. The skillset acquired in doing research, working with colleagues on assignments, writing reports, and giving oral presentations are a great assistance in the Nursing program. I continue to use the library services made available to me by UofGH when writing research-based papers.

“UofGH’s amazing Early Childhood Studies professors also helped lead me on the path that I’m on now,” she added. “Most of the information that I am currently learning in Nursing school is an extension of what was taught in the Early Childhood Studies program. For example, in ECS I would create lesson plans based on a child’s interest and learning needs. Now in Nursing I am creating patient care plans based on a patient’s needs.”

After graduation, Zupancic hopes to pursue a role in an acute clinical environment in one of downtown Toronto’s teaching hospitals. Once she has experience in that area, she would like to eventually work in the operating room as a perioperative nurse.

Kemeh, meanwhile, plans to do work that will bring together all aspects of her post-secondary education.

“With my background in Early Childhood Studies, my love for children and experience in working with infants and children, I hope to become a pediatric nurse,” she said.

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