Scrubs and sunshine smiles: Staying committed to my passion for health care, one radiant ray of compassion at a time

"I am forever grateful to the World University Services of Canada (WUSC) and its generous donors for providing me with a life-changing opportunity. Their support has had a profound impact on my journey, opening doors to a brighter future and empowering me." 

UBC Nursing Student Tamasha Hussein

Tamasha Hussein

  • Degree: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Grad year: 2023
  • Program:
  • Campus: Vancouver

I am a World University Service of Canada scholar and I'm incredibly passionate about health care and nursing. I embarked on a journey to the University of British Columbia in 2018 with a burning desire to make a lasting difference in the world of health care. 

From a young age, I have been captivated by the healing power of health care and the profound impact that nurses have on individuals and communities. Growing up in Malawi, I had the privilege of witnessing the dedication and compassion of health care professionals who worked tirelessly to provide care and support to those in need. Their selflessness and unwavering commitment inspired me to pursue a career in nursing, where I could contribute to the wellbeing and recovery of individuals during their most vulnerable moments. 

As I look ahead, I am filled with a sense of purpose and excitement. UBC has provided me with the knowledge, skills and experiences necessary to embark on a meaningful career in nursing. I am eager to continue my journey, utilizing my education to make a lasting impact on the lives of individuals and communities. Whether it is providing compassionate care to patients, advocating for health care policies, or engaging in research to advance the field, I am committed to dedicating myself to the betterment of health care and the wellbeing of those I serve.

World University Service of Canada

Tell us about your UBC Nursing journey...

My journey at UBC has been nothing short of transformative. As I stepped into my very first nursing class, I felt an instant connection to the field of health care . The comprehensive curriculum at UBC has equipped me with a solid foundation of theoretical knowledge, practical skills, and critical thinking abilities. Through engaging lectures, interactive discussions, hands-on labs, and immersive clinical placements, I have had the opportunity to apply my learning in real-world health care settings, preparing me to become a competent and compassionate nurse.

One of the most remarkable aspects of my UBC experience has been the emphasis on experiential learning and community engagement. Beyond the classroom, I have actively sought out opportunities to expand my horizons and contribute to the broader health care community. Volunteering at local clinics and participating in health care campaigns have allowed me to engage with diverse populations and gain a deeper understanding of their unique health care needs. Attending conferences and workshops has not only exposed me to cutting-edge advancements in the field but also facilitated networking with like-minded individuals who share the same passion for health care and nursing.

These extracurricular experiences have been invaluable in shaping my perspective and reinforcing my commitment to making a positive impact in the world of health care. They have provided me with a broader lens through which I can view health care challenges and have ignited a drive within me to advocate for equitable access to health care, especially in underserved communities. I am constantly seeking ways to bridge the gap between health care disparities and work towards a future where everyone has equal opportunities to receive quality care and support.

Tamasha Hussein (centre) alongside her first clinical group.
Tamasha (centre) alongside her first clinical group. They have been close throughout the program and supported each other a lot to be able to succeed.

How would you describe the UBC Nursing student community?   

"The nursing program's tight-knit community provided a sense of belonging, where I felt supported and encouraged to grow both personally and professionally."

The student community within the nursing program at UBC is known for its welcoming and inclusive nature. From my personal experience, I found the community to be incredibly supportive and inclusive, which greatly enhanced my overall university experience. Starting the nursing program in my third year of undergraduate studies was a turning point for me in terms of making lasting connections and forming meaningful friendships. I encountered fellow students who shared a passion for health care and a genuine desire to make a positive impact in the world.

Through collaborative projects, group study sessions and clinical placements, I had numerous opportunities to connect with my peers on both personal and professional levels. These interactions not only strengthened my academic journey but also fostered lasting connections that extend beyond my university years.

Nursing Undergraduate Society Council

Where do you find your inspiration for using your degree to make an impact on our world?  

I have been fortunate to have a mentor who has been a true inspiration to me. This individual, a force in the health care field, has not only imparted knowledge and skills but has also instilled in me a strong sense of social accountability. Their dedication to making a positive impact on the world through their work has deeply influenced my own aspirations. 

My mentor's passion for using their expertise to address societal issues and improve health care access has shown me the immense potential of my degree to make a difference. Witnessing their commitment to serving underserved communities and advocating for those in need has fueled my own desire to contribute to the betterment of society through my chosen field. 

Beyond mentorship and notable figures, my family, friends and peers have played a crucial role in supporting me throughout my degree. Their unwavering belief in my abilities and their encouragement during challenging times have been invaluable. They have provided emotional support, celebrated my achievements and offered guidance when I faced doubts or obstacles. Their collective support has strengthened my resolve and instilled in me the belief that I can indeed make a meaningful impact on our world through my chosen field. 

UBC Nursing Student Tamasha Hussein with her mentor, Dr. Robert (Bob) Woollard
 Tamasha with her mentor, Dr. Robert (Bob) Woollard, a UBC Faculty of Medicine Professor

What were some of your favourite classes?  

My experience in my program has been enriched by a variety of moments that have stood out and left a lasting impact on me. Among these, the public health course, health leadership course and Indigenous health course were particularly transformative and memorable. 

The public health course provided me with a comprehensive understanding of the principles and practices of public health. Exploring topics such as epidemiology, health promotion and disease prevention, this course opened my eyes to the broader societal factors that influence health outcomes and the importance of addressing health at a population level. Engaging in thought-provoking discussions and examining real-world case studies allowed me to develop a deeper appreciation for the significance of public health interventions and strategies in improving the well-being of communities. This course not only expanded my knowledge but also ignited a passion within me to make a difference in public health. 

Similarly, the health leadership course was a standout moment in my degree program. This course focused on developing leadership skills within the health care context, emphasizing the importance of effective communication, collaboration and decision-making in health care settings. Through interactive workshops, group projects and engaging lectures, I gained valuable insights into various leadership styles and techniques. This course not only enhanced my understanding of the intricacies of health leadership but also provided me with practical tools and strategies to become an effective leader in the field. The knowledge and skills I acquired in this course have been invaluable in shaping my approach to health care and have equipped me with the confidence to take on leadership roles in the future.   

Additionally, the Indigenous health course was a truly eye-opening experience that fostered a deeper understanding and appreciation of Indigenous health perspectives and challenges. This course delved into the historical, cultural and social determinants of Indigenous health, providing a comprehensive exploration of the unique health care needs and experiences of Indigenous communities. Through guest lectures, community engagements and discussions, I had the privilege of learning from Indigenous voices and gaining insights into the importance of cultural safety, self-determination and collaborative approaches to improving Indigenous health outcomes. This course instilled in me a profound respect for Indigenous knowledge and strengthened my commitment to advocating for equitable and culturally sensitive health care practices. 

What are some contributions you would like to make when it comes to the future of work in your field? 

I am passionate about advancing public health initiatives and addressing health inequities. In an increasingly interconnected world, it is crucial to adopt a population health approach that focuses on preventive measures, health promotion and addressing social determinants of health.

My contributions to the future of work in my field encompass promoting effective health leadership, advancing public health initiatives, leveraging technology and data and committing to lifelong learning. By actively engaging in these areas, I aspire to make a meaningful impact in improving health care delivery, addressing health inequities and shaping a future where health and wellbeing are accessible to all. 

Fostering inclusivity, equity, and representation in health care

As a Black woman, I am passionate about seeing more Black women represented in health care. There is a deep sense of joy and fulfillment that arises when I find myself on a nursing unit or in a classroom surrounded by other Black individuals who share similar experiences and backgrounds. It creates a sense of camaraderie and support that is invaluable.

However, the reality is often different from this ideal scenario. Throughout my academic and professional journey, I have frequently found myself being the only Black woman in many of these spaces. This realization can evoke a mix of emotions, ranging from disappointment to frustration. It highlights the persisting underrepresentation of Black women in health care and the work that still needs to be done to address this disparity.

Being the only Black woman in a particular setting can feel isolating at times. It can amplify the awareness of the lack of diversity and the challenges faced by individuals from underrepresented backgrounds. It serves as a reminder of the importance of fostering inclusivity, equity, and representation in the health care field.

Despite these challenges, my experiences have fueled my determination to advocate for change. I firmly believe that diverse representation enhances the quality of health care delivery and leads to more patient-centered care. When patients see health care professionals who look like them, who share similar experiences and cultural understandings, it can foster trust and promote better health outcomes.

Moreover, the presence of Black women in health care brings unique perspectives and insights that contribute to the richness of the profession. By embracing diversity and inclusivity, we can foster innovation, improve health care policies, and address health disparities that disproportionately affect marginalized communities.

As a successful role model, I strive to inspire and uplift other Black women and individuals from underrepresented populations who aspire to pursue careers in health care. By sharing my experiences and advocating for increased representation, I aim to break down barriers and open doors for future generations. I actively seek opportunities to mentor, support, and empower others who may face similar challenges along their own journeys.

Together, we can work towards a future where Black women are not only welcomed but celebrated in all areas of health care. It is my hope that through increased representation, we can create a more inclusive and equitable health care system that truly reflects the diverse communities we serve.

What advice would you give incoming UBC Nursing students? 

"Approach your studies with a willingness to learn and expand your knowledge and skills. Recognize that your education doesn't end with graduation but continues throughout your career as a nurse."

By having a growth mindset, managing your time effectively, seeking support and collaboration, prioritizing self-care, engaging in clinical experiences and being aware of the importance of self-reflection, interprofessional collaboration and emotional well-being, you'll be better prepared to navigate your nursing degree program and embark on a fulfilling and rewarding career as a nurse. 

It's also important to acknowledge the emotional challenges that come with nursing. Witnessing patients' suffering and dealing with high-stress situations can take a toll on your well-being. It's crucial to develop coping mechanisms, seek support from peers and mentors and engage in self-care practices to maintain your emotional resilience. Taking care of your mental health is as important as taking care of your patients. 

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