By Preeteesh Peetabh Singh
Nursing is a profession that is focused on the care of individuals, families and communities so they may attain optimal health and quality of life. Elizabeth O’Brien’s office and personality seems to fit the criteria aptly. With a picture of her children on the computer screen and few other pictures on the table, she seems to have found a way to always be in touch with her family.
It has been a long journey for her, 37 years to be precise, since she joined George Brown College (GBC). She is faculty in the Nursing department and is currently teaching in the personal support worker program that runs a span of two semesters. Personal support workers perform basic care and assist nurses for a variety of clients needing health care.
O’Brien completed her Bachelors in Science and Nursing and Masters in Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) which is a part of University of Toronto. She worked as a staff nurse at the Toronto General Hospital prior to working as a teacher in George Brown College from 1975. She taught a variety of subjects in the Diploma RN program (three years), which is no longer in existence. Presently nurses are educated in either a two-year Practical Nursing or a four-year Baccalaureate program.
She recalls when she started with GBC, they used micro-films and 35mm movies as teaching aids. “The resources were minimal at that time and none of us had computers and cell phones.” she said.
All class materials were in hard copy print form. If students had to complete a report they needed to go to the library and use books and articles. The classes were smaller with very few male students enrolled in the course. The nursing students were able to live in the same building where they had classes and walk through a tunnel to the hospital in inclement weather. They wore white student uniforms and caps.
O’Brien says that the experience at the new campus has been good so far. She is getting used to the new surroundings and hopes that the new campus will set new standards in the field of education and change the attitude towards community colleges in Canada.