July 15, 2020

Celebrate the nursing profession's positive global influence, says instructor

2020 Year of the Nurse and the Midwife: Margarita Gil, BN’10
UCalgary nursing instructor
Nursing instructor and RN, Margarita Gil

In January of 2019, the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the first ever “Year of the Nurse and the Midwife,” in honour of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

UCalgary Nursing will be celebrating the year with a variety of activities including a monthly series of reflections on the past and future of nursing and health care from our nursing community.

Nursing instructor Margarita Gil, BN’10, has a message for her fellow nurses: When given the opportunity to work alongside a nursing student, “be kind, patient, nurturing, challenging, and supportive. These individuals are unique, and you will make an impact on them.”

“You are helping to shape their future as a nurse,” advises the instructor and registered nurse with a varied background in general medicine, geriatrics and medical psychiatry. “They will potentially be your colleagues one day. So, what kind of impact would you like to leave? Remember, you were once a student as well.”

Gil teaches clinical practice to students in the acute care setting and is a research assistant for the Chair in Gerontology at UCalgary. Palliative care and immigrant population issues also pique her interest as an instructor and researcher.

Consider what Year of the Nurse means to you. How would you like this designation to bring attention to the profession?
“To me, it means a celebration of the positive influence — at many levels — that our profession has in the world. I would like this to be an opportunity to create more awareness of one of the most current difficulties we face: working understaffed and risking the safety of our patients and personnel."

For nurses who experience burnout, it’s an opportunity to fall in love again with their career choice and to continue understanding the value of our role as interprofessional collaborative partners.

What is the legacy of Florence Nightingale to the next generation of nurses?
“Leadership and innovation, the concept of holistic care and of the importance of an adequate and clean environment in the process of healing.”

What’s one thing you’d like to see happen in 2020 to advance the profile of nursing?

"Initiatives to encourage and support interprofessional education and global health education in nursing schools, as well as in continuing education programs for current nurses."

Boosting leadership and influence is one key message from the WHO. What leadership qualities do you think you bring to the profession?
“I am an active listener, empathetic and caring; I encourage team-building, self-care, and supporting individuals as they find their qualities and strengths. I accept that I can be vulnerable.”

What’s one thing most people don’t know about nurses or one stereotype you’re often correcting?
“Nurses’ work is not limited to providing direct patient care. Since you can see us working at hospitals, community clinics, educational institutions, exercising different types of leadership roles and conducting research, amongst other functions, it is evident that our presence is key for the delivery of sustainable health care and the creation and maintenance of healthy communities."

Describe a career highlight.
“Receiving the 2019/2020 Student Union Teaching Excellence Award.”

What would a world without nurses look like, in a few words?
"Interesting question, especially during this time of pandemic. A world without nurses would be detrimental to health care systems, and a society with a compromised health care system is at risk of stagnation."

NurseMentor student and alumni

Margarita Gil is a mentor to nursing student Nicole Kadach in UCalgary Nursing's NurseMentor program.