Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

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President's Award for Leadership in Clinical Nursing Practice - Philiz Goh & Sheila O'Keefe-McCarthy

This award recognizes staff nurses who consistently demonstrate expertise and evidence-based practice in one or more areas of clinical practice. This year’s two winners demonstrate nursing leadership in their workplaces and influence change for the betterment of patients, families and/or communities.

Philiz Goh's career is proof that when you set your mind to something, nothing is out of your reach. As a young kinesiology graduate, she watched her father lose his battle to brain cancer. The experience made her realize she wanted to improve care for cancer patients, so she switched career paths, eventually landing as an oncology nurse at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. She’s since recognized the need for more patient resources on bone metastases, and, although she knew nothing about publishing, taught herself everything she could, and published an informational book on the issue from scratch. Now, Philiz is learning how to make a Smartphone app for breast cancer patients in need of online resources. She says she's proud to be a leader in clinical practice, and is studying for her master’s degree with hopes to lead further improvements in patient care. She sees this award as affirmation she's on the right track. "It's also recognition for all those who have supported me," says Philiz. "Without these great mentors, I wouldn't be where I am today."

Sheila O'Keefe-McCarthy grew up with tremendous respect for the nursing profession. Her mother, an Irish midwife and nurse, taught her about the privilege of caring for people in their most vulnerable state. Sheila has honoured those childhood lessons through a highly decorated nursing career spanning more than 30 years, and including a wide range of clinical experience, teaching, and a PhD in Nursing Science. "That's one of the pearls of nursing, you don't have to be just one thing," she says. Her academic contributions are widely celebrated – her recent PhD dissertation on cardiovascular pain management was named most outstanding thesis of 2014 by the Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Society – but all her work is aimed at improving patient care. She's also recognized as a leader and mentor in the field, extending a helping hand to nurses, and building a stronger nursing body from the classroom to the bedside. No matter what role she takes on, Sheila lives her personal motto: "bloom where you are and make a difference."