This award is given to the RN who practises excellence as a nursing educator or preceptor in a health-care organization. This individual enhances the image of nursing by encouraging critical thinking, innovation and debate about important nursing issues, and acts as a role model and mentor.
For Poonam Sharma, supporting nursing students is something that comes naturally. "Having had so many mentors in my past inspires me to support others so they can give back to the profession in the way I hope I am," says the public health RN for the Region of Peel and former Nursing Students of Ontario president. Poonam's mentoring skills were prominent at Humber College, where she earned her nursing degree two years ago. It was there she provided leadership in the Humber Nursing Society, a support group for undergraduates enrolled in the BScN program.
As a student, Poonam also successfully advocated for the school's administration to include RNAO student membership in its fee structure, thus ensuring all nursing students automatically belong to the association. "RNAO has supported me...opened new doors for me, and provided me with so many opportunities," she says. Poonam is back in the classroom pursuing a master's degree in nursing at Ryerson University. She says it provides the perfect opportunity to continue paying it forward and help any students who call on her for help, support or advice. Poonam is the first recipient of this award.