Two hundred interviews and counting. That’s how many times Paul-André Gauthier has spoken to media outlets about nursing and/or health care since 2004, a feat he credits to RNAO. “The association has helped him to become more confident in his ability to speak to journalists about topics ranging from euthanasia to the northern Ontario nursing shortage.” Now, he tells other members “you can do it, too.”
The clinical nurse specialist who recently retired from his post as professor and co-ordinator of health research at Sudbury’s Collège Boréal first learned of the association in the early 1980s when he was working in Timmins. He wanted to connect and share profession-related concerns with other colleagues across the province. In 1982, he joined RNAO thanks to then-president of the association’s Porcupine chapter, Karen Read. “I was impressed with her,” Gauthier recalls. She convinced him to attend a chapter meeting: “you don’t need to talk; I want you to learn,” she told him. Within a matter of years, Gauthier had assumed Read’s role. He then became a board member and extended his involvement to the Clinical Nurse Specialist Association of Ontario, an RNAO interest group. He started as treasurer in 2001 and is currently co-president. For the past six years, he’s been co-president of the Clinical Nurse Specialist Association of Canada.
Gauthier has also honed his advocacy skills by helping MPPs become more versed about local and provincial nursing and health-care issues at RNAO’s annual Day at Queen’s Park, the association’s signature political advocacy event. “I’m not shy to speak to politicians,” he says. Now, much like the coaching he provides to other RNs before they speak to reporters, he helps other nurses practise before meeting with political leaders.
He has received international recognition, Ordre de la Pléiade, and is a recent recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Gauthier insists that although he’s retired, his main role will always be to “help fellow colleagues.”