UBC Nursing student receives Sharon Stapleton Award

Lara Gurney (second from right) with, from left to right, Sharon Stapleton's father, Stapleton's sister, Vivian Eliopoulos (Chief Operating Officer, Vancouver Coastal Health - Vancouver Acute) and Stapleton's husband at the awards ceremony

Lara Gurney, a student in UBC’s Master of Science in Nursing program, has received the prestigious Sharon Stapleton Award from Vancouver Coastal Health. Gurney currently works as an emergency nurse clinician, with a strong focus on critical care nursing, at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH).

Aimed at fostering leadership within the provincial health care system, the $5000 award recognizes nursing or allied health care professionals in Vancouver Acute who demonstrate “high leadership potential for accelerated growth through the organization” and supports their enrollment in leadership-focused courses.

“I feel extremely privileged to receive this award and am grateful to the UBC School of Nursing, Vancouver Coastal Health and Vancouver General Hospital for all their wonderful support,” says Gurney. 

Gurney with Sharon Stapleton's family after accepting the award

Gurney has created an innovative practice initiative at VGH known as the Patient Stories Project (PSP), which attempts to mitigate burnout and cultivate a positive work environment among nurses in the critical care unit by enhancing their awareness of the positive impact their care has had on patient outcomes. 

The PSP accomplishes this by giving patients an opportunity to share with the nurses, as well as other members of the health care team, stories of their recovery and personal accomplishments since discharge. Storytelling is an under-explored strategy for addressing burnout, a leading cause of job dissatisfaction, staff shortages and high turnover rates in critical care settings.

For her master’s thesis, Gurney is investigating storytelling and the PSP as a means of influencing nurses’ perceptions of their work environment.

About the Sharon Stapleton Memorial Leadership Education Fund

Throughout her 10 years at VGH, UBCH and Lower Mainland Labs (PHSA), Sharon was always a strong believer in the importance of education. In 2009, she completed her master's from Royal Roads University (Master of Arts in Leadership with specialization in Health) while maintaining her full-time role at the hospital. She believed that fostering leadership in others was integral to the future success of the health care system. To that end, it was her wish that other high-potential health professionals, who would not otherwise have the financial resources to do so, would be able to benefit from the opportunity to receive leadership training. The Sharon Stapleton Memorial Leadership Education Fund has been established in order to continue her legacy of inspiring others to learn and grow.


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