Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


Award of Merit

This award recognizes RNs who have made an outstanding contribution to RNAO and to the profession of nursing in Ontario. Winners demonstrate responsibility for professional development and are exemplary role models and mentors to peers. This year, there are two winners in this category.

They don’t call her “the Motivator” for nothing. Sheryl Bernard has a reputation for raising the bar for health care at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, where she serves as administrative director. When she arrived at Ontario Shores eight years ago, the role of clinical nurse specialist didn’t exist. As a result of her efforts, there are now eight nurses working in that role, helping to raise the hospital’s standards of practice. Sheryl has mentored a number of nurses and other professionals who climbed the hospital’s ranks to become her colleagues. The former RNAO board member credits her family, friends and the late Joan Lesmond (RNAO past-president) for much of her inspiration. She also credits all the nurses who inspired her along her journey from part-time clerk at Scarborough Hospital to where she is today.

In a pivotal moment as a 19-year-old single mother, Sheryl recalls wondering where she saw herself in the future. “And I’ve never stopped asking myself or anyone that question since then,” she says.

Jo Hoeflok remembers the first time someone told her she’d made a difference in their life. “It almost took my breath away,” she recalls. And the nurse practitioner in gastroenterology and general surgery at St. Michael’s Hospital has impacted countless lives since.

Considered an expert in enterostomal therapy care, Jo has spoken at conferences around the world, and has been published extensively in academic journals. The daughter of an orthopedic nurse, she learned to dress wounds while still in high school. She now strives to advance the practice of enterostomal therapy care by sharing literature and opening dialogue about best practices among her peers. Caring for stomas means Jo sees the same patients regularly, allowing her to build long-lasting relationships. “You will always be able to help them as they deal with the milestones in their journey,” she says. As a mentor and protégé, Jo says she has benefitted greatly from enduring relationships with her peers, and counts them as the true highlights of her career.