Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

RNAO Leadership Award in Nursing Education (Staff Development): Gillian Strudwick

RNAO Leadership Award in Nursing Education (Staff Development): Gillian Strudwick

The RNAO Leadership Award in Nursing Education (Staff Development) is awarded to the RN or NP who practises excellence as a nurse educator in a health-care setting. This individual enhances the role of nursing by encouraging critical thinking, innovation and debate about important nursing issues, and acts as a role model and mentor in their work environment.

Gillian Strudwick admits that nursing was a pragmatic choice. After initially studying kinesiology, she switched to nursing because she felt she'd have a better chance at finding a job after graduation. "I'm grateful that my very practical brain made this switch because it's been amazing," she says. Gillian currently works as a project scientist in information management at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Although she has only been an RN for 10 years, she's already found herself drawn to mentoring new nurses because she knows it can be difficult to find support, and she appreciates being able to share her knowledge with those who are struggling. Gillian has mentored a variety of nurses, from RPNs to RNs, advanced practice clinicians, managers, specialists, as well as nursing students. She also works with a government service called Job-Start to help newcomers to Canada navigate the system and become certified to practise here. She helps prepare newcomers for interviews, provides support during the registration process, and participates in buddy shifts (working alongside new nurses as a mentor to provide support) to help newcomers with their confidence. Gillian has mentored nurses who have come from around the world, including Nigeria, Cameroon, Philippines, India, Italy and the U.S.