Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

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President's Award for Leadership in Clinical Nursing Practice: Barbara Whalen

This award recognizes a registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner (NP) who consistently demonstrates expertise and evidence-informed practice in one or more areas of clinical practice in a staff nurse position. This year’s two winners enhance the role of nursing by demonstrating nursing leadership in their workplaces and influencing change for the betterment of patients, families and/or communities.

For as long as Barbara Whalen can remember, she has always wanted to work in primary care. It’s a passion, she says, that’s linked to the opportunity to get to know patients, and to watch them grow from childhood to adulthood. “I sometimes see moms bringing in their babies,” she says, noting that those new moms were just children themselves when she first met them years before. Now at the Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre in Ottawa and the Med-Team Clinic in Kanata, Barbara spends her days educating clients and advocating for refugees, people living in poverty, and the elderly. She also finds time to train nursing students and new RNs about immunization and best practice guidelines. When asked, what makes a great nursing leader, she says a lot of it is about mentorship. “I think (it’s) not just mentoring others, but finding good mentors for ourselves,” says Barbara, who is currently finishing a human resource management studies program at Algonquin College.