June 15, 2022

Class of 2022: Qatar Nursing grad strives to provide impactful patient care

Faculty of Nursing graduate Asya Helal discusses her experience at UCalgary Qatar and her goal to be an educator and advocate
Asya Helal
Nursing grad Asya Helal.

Asya Helal always had an innate desire for helping others. This passion was further ignited after witnessing the holistic approach to care exemplified by University of Calgary nursing students during one of her own doctor appointments.

Not only did their style of care stand out, it also personally impacted Helal and made her feel taken care of and understood. Now, as she launches her own nursing career after receiving her Bachelor of Nursing degree from UCalgary’s Qatar campus (UCQ) this month, Helal aims to embrace innovation in health care that will meet the needs of any community she works in through sharing her knowledge and experience.

Helal, who has been chosen to read the pledge at UCQ’s convocation, has shown the extent of her dedication to her studies and profession, and her willingness to go the extra mile to improve the quality of care she provides to patients.

When and why did you come to be interested in nursing as a career?

I have always had a passion for health care and to work in the medical field. My interest in the field first piqued during one of my appointments at Hamad General Hospital (HGH) [in Doha]. I saw nursing students caring for patients alongside their “buddy nurse.” As I observed the difference between their two approaches, I noticed the buddy nurse focused more on a physical approach and the student nurse utilized a more holistic method. As a patient, I felt taken care of from the nursing student’s approach, whom I shortly found out was studying at the UCalgary Qatar campus. This further ignited my passion for health care. I wanted to be the person who goes above and beyond to make others feel taken care of and confident in my care as a nurse.

What sparked your interest to study at UCalgary?

Observing the two diverse approaches to health care at HGH sparked my interest not only in the nursing profession, but also the institution that helps foster compassionate and dedicated nurses. Knowing that the student nurse was studying at UCalgary, I researched the institution, including the programs it offers. I found out that the UCalgary is the only institution in Qatar offering a nursing program.

How did UCalgary expand your vision and support your interests?

UCalgary equipped me with the education and practice needed for excellence in the nursing profession. I had the opportunity to apply my knowledge and develop new skills in a wide range of clinical settings with a preceptor. The institution has its own clinical simulation centre where I was able to practice the skills and procedures before applying them in an actual clinical setting; this ensured I delivered safe and competent nursing care. The opportunity to practise my skills helped strengthen my ability to work independently and strengthened my communication skills; a crucial skill to understand the need of my patients and advocate for them.

Who were some of your mentors and what did you learn from them?

The clinical co-ordinator of UCalgary in Qatar, Ms. Diana White, and the preceptor of my last practicum, Ms. Angelique Evangelista, a staff member in HGH, are the biggest influencers of my undergraduate journey. Ms. Diana ensured I have the knowledge and skills required from a student nurse to go and apply that in real life. She worked closely with Hamad Medical Corporation to safeguard clinical placements to maximize the benefits of being in actual clinical sites as an undergrad. Ms. Angelique encouraged me to care for my patients independently under minimum supervision … and thus increased my level of confidence in caring for my patients.

What university programs have you gotten involved in? 

I was a peer mentor for all my four years of study after being referred by one of my instructors. My experience as a peer mentor enhanced my leadership, networking and communication skills; as a result, I became a more effective listener, which is an essential skill that I need as a nurse.

Peer-mentoring students helped me broaden my perspective and see things from different aspects. UCalgary in Qatar has a very diverse community, and meeting students taught me to appreciate multiple perspectives, which enriched my thinking and enhanced my problem-solving skills. Being able to explain content to the students has reinforced what I have learned in my previous courses and boosted my self-confidence when educating my patients. The best part about being a peer-mentor is empowering the students in what method works best for them and seeing them succeed.

How will you take forward your experiences at University of Calgary into your future? 

The values of University of Calgary are a foundation for me as a future registered nurse. My experience at University of Calgary taught me to search for answers and opportunities, rather than wait for them to come along. In one of my clinical rotations … I realized that students were sharing repetitive things that happened during the shift [during their “post-conference” hour]. I decided to discuss with my clinical instructor how we can maximize the benefit of that hour. I suggested sharing information that occurs during a shift, like new diseases or procedures, so other students can learn about these different areas and be ready to handle them. My clinical instructor welcomed my idea and introduced it to the group, who benefitted from using this method.

In your opinion, what is the most meaningful part of nursing?

Nursing is a rewarding profession; I enjoy getting to know my patients and their families, as well as play an important role in their lives. My favourite part about being a nurse is that there is never a dull day; I get to meet many people with diverse backgrounds. No matter where I have practised or the type of nursing care I provide, I know I have contributed to making a difference in peoples' lives. Being in this profession means that I will continue to learn new things along the way, and I will keep developing skills that will help me provide the best care possible. These are a few reasons why I love being a nurse.

What’s next for you?

Ultimately, I strive to be the agent of change. It is a vision of mine to change my community’s view about nursing and prove that it is more than just a job. UCalgary provided me with excellent education that I am so grateful for; I hope to return soon to pursue my master’s degree.

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