Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

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Leadership Award in Student Mentorship

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.

As a master’s student (now finishing up her second master’s degree), Dania Versailles is no stranger to the challenges of academic life. In fact, she says her first-hand knowledge of the pressures placed on students is what feeds her passion to be a great mentor. Dania has been helping to shape the experiences of young nurses for 14 years, at one time as a clinical placement co-ordinator, and now mentoring master’s students as a clinical nurse specialist in the mental health program at Hópital Montfort in Ottawa. Her goal with each student she mentors is to make mental health nursing more appealing, less feared and better understood as a specialty. Dania says that many students are scared away by the “ugly” side of nursing in this sector, and her primary goal is to shift their thinking to realize just how much it has to offer. “I want to share with them how to interpret the world they work in so they can find the good in every situation,” Dania says. “You can make or break their career even before they graduate. When they’re doing clinical placement, it’s the last chance to get really hooked on the profession.” Dania wants to leave them thinking “this career is great.” With a philosophy to be “as visible as possible,” Dania invites students into her workplace, but also makes a point to meet them where they are; in the classroom. Through a joint appointment, she has been visiting master’s students in the classroom for the past two years.