School of Nursing
What is your educational and professional background?
- I am a registered nurse
- BSc and MSc in Nursing, University of Montreal
- PhD in Nursing, McGill University
- Post-doctoral Fellowship in Neuroscience/Pediatrics, UBC
- Associate Research Scientist in the division of Developmental Neuroscience at Columbia University
I started my professional career as a neonatal nurse, caring for the most fragile and critically ill babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. This is when my interest in the care of preterm infants and pain management began, and since then it has never stopped growing as new discoveries emerge. From that role, after completing a Master of Science in Nursing, I spent the next four years working as a pediatric clinical nurse specialist in acute pain. Having a strong interest in research and learning, I pursued a doctoral degree at McGill University.
Hence, my research program builds upon and extends from my clinical nursing background, my doctoral training in measuring infant brain reactivity to acute pain using near-infrared spectroscopy, my postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience at UBC, and my work as an associate research scientist in developmental neuroscience. More specifically, in the last four years, while expanding my knowledge and experience in neuroscience and basic science, I have led cutting-edge animal research examining the adverse effects of early-life stress (such as procedural pain, sucrose exposure and maternal separation) on brain development using rodent models that closely mimic the neonatal intensive care context. Many questions remain to be answered and this has informed my research goals for years to come.
What are your research/teaching interests and current projects?
My teaching interests focus mainly on teaching graduate nurses about research methods and evidence-based practice. I aim to get students engaged in research and not only increase their knowledge but also spark their interest in this aspect of the nursing role. I seek to plant a seed in each of my students with the hope that some will grow and bloom; we are truly forming the next generation of practitioners and nursing scholars, and I want to assure that research is part of their foundation.
I am conducting novel translational research to advance the health and care of children born preterm. To accomplish this, I am leading a research program to address the impact of early-life adversity, such as stress, pain, inflammation, treatments and maternal separation, on the developing brain of very preterm infants. My overall goal is to develop methods to mitigate any adverse effects on the brain and developmental outcomes in this vulnerable population. Keeping this in mind will ensure that the basic animal study findings will be translated into clinical practice.
My initial projects are conducted using rodent models to gain basic knowledge to better inform clinical studies in preterm infants. I am examining the interactions between the nervous, immune and endocrine systems during the critical period of early-life development in order to prevent changes to the brain, and thereby improve outcomes.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in nursing?
The nursing profession has evolved so much in the last 20 to 30 years and is continuously adapting to the ongoing health-related demands and changes affecting our local, national and global communities. There are so many exciting opportunities for nurses to play different roles in people’s lives. Nurses can play a direct role in caring for, advocating for, educating and counselling patients and their families within a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals. They also have a unique set of skills which makes them invaluable; they can exercise these skills through leadership and innovation in nursing knowledge exchange, research and practice. They can truly make a difference at many levels.
What are you passionate about outside work?
I am passionate and driven by discovering and learning. Thus, I try to seize opportunities that will provide this, such as traveling and attending cultural events and conferences, as well as engaging in social events to meet diverse and interesting people. I also enjoy pushing myself and being active. Vancouver is the perfect place to fulfill these needs. To stay active and blow off some excess stress, I enjoy running and hiking.