April 17, 2019

Alumni Spotlight: Justin Burkett, BN’14

On going from emergency nursing to nursing educator and Doha faculty advisor, UCalgary Nursing
Justin Burkett, BN'14
Justin Burkett, BN'14

Early career dreams: Burkett originally set out to study political science. “Truthfully, I had wanted to be a United Nations diplomat.”

Pivotal travel moment: In 2005, Burkett went to China to teach English. “Walking across a busy bridge one day in the middle of Guangzhuo, I saw a young child who had no limbs, sitting alone on a blanket with people walking by seemingly paying no attention. Something impacted me that day.” When he returned to Canada at 26, he pursued studies in health care.

Nursing school: Burkett completed the UCalgary Nursing program at Medicine Hat College. “The first year I applied to nursing, I actually didn’t get in.” At that time, paramedics and nurses took many of the same first-year foundation courses at MHC, so he did first-year paramedic courses, then reapplied to nursing. 

The path to UCalgary: While working at Rockyview Hospital, he met UCalgary nursing instructor Dave Patterson (BN’08 , MN’19) who suggested he apply to become a clinical instructor.

Doha exchange program: “Our students get to step outside their comfort zone and experience nursing in a different culture. They are in a country where nurses are experiencing a rapid state of evolution within their own practice; seeing it firsthand gives them some humility. I want our students to immerse themselves, experiencing as much of the Qatari culture as they can. This is a wonderful opportunity to enhance their ability to provide culturally mindful care. The Albert Einstein quote ‘Learning is an experience, everything else is just information,’ is at the heart of everything I do.”

Men in nursing: “Globally, the male nursing workforce is around 14 per cent. They still experience the age-old sentiment of ‘Why nursing? Why don’t you become a doctor?’ from their families. But I’m happy to see this changing as more men enter the nursing profession and take ownership of their craft. Maybe it’s not so much about just empowering men in nursing but empowering nurses in nursing.”

Lifelong learner: Burkett is studying remotely for his Master of Science in Global Health Policy at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine at the University of London.

Student Testimonial

Laura Russell, BN’18, travelled to Doha in January 2018 and was in the first group of students Burkett supervised after he became the Doha faculty advisor. She currently works at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary on Unit 36 (internal medicine) and 46 (medical oncology) and looks back at her Doha practicum with fond memories. “Justin had an enthusiastic, adaptable outlook and was an excellent mentor for our nursing abroad experience,” she says. “Working alongside students, nurses and other health-care professionals in Doha greatly strengthened my cultural competence, global awareness and overall nursing ability. I feel I am able to provide better nursing care to my patients here in Calgary.” Through a partnership with the University of Calgary in Qatar, fourth-year UCalgary Nursing students have an opportunity to complete clinical practicum hours at health-care facilities in Doha.