Oct. 13, 2020

2020 Year of the Nurse and the Midwife: Harneek Kapoor

Fourth-year nursing student champions advocacy, student leadership and growth among his peers

Harneek Kapoor's calm demeanour and easy approachability is known to everyone who works with him. He's a natural student leader, always looking for learning opportunities for himself and other students.

Since entering the nursing program directly from high school four years ago, Kapoor has spent much of his time as a voice for his fellow students, including with the Year One Nursing Council, Peer Mentorship Committee, Nursing Guys Club and, more recently, the UCalgary Nursing Mental Health and Wellness Initiative Committee and other faculty committees. 

“I've made it my focus to represent the concerns of students through advocacy, fostering an environment of inclusivity, and providing a platform for students to have their voices heard,” he says.

Kapoor is now entering his final year and is the current president of the Undergraduate Nursing Society, the primary nursing student leadership body in the faculty. 

“I'm so excited to get to work and problem-solve throughout the upcoming year, whether that may be all virtual, ensuring that the students in our faculty feel well-supported,” he says. “I'm also very excited to work with our diverse team of super motivated and enthusiastic executives to support them in their roles and to promote growth and leadership throughout the student population.”

For Kapoor, promoting student leadership and involvement will help ensure that the Faculty of Nursing has strong student leadership for generations to come.

“I want to encourage all students to also find their passions and pursue their interests outside of their schooling," he says. "There are also many important movements, local and global, going on around the world right now, and it's important for us to be active global citizens, and participate in, and support, these initiatives.  

“As nurses, we must continue to advocate and be leaders for change, vouching for equity, prosperity, inclusivity, and peace for all.”

Harneek with Term 7 peers

Kapoor with his last clinical group on their first day of Term 7 at Peter Lougheed Centre Unit 38 – Hematology Oncology Rotation.

We asked Kapoor a few questions about the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife:

Consider what Year of the Nurse means to you. How would you like this designation to bring attention to the profession?
“This means a lot to me. I’m a nursing student in my final year of learning, heading into the workforce in the midst of a global pandemic, joining generations of extremely hard-working professionals all trying to provide the best possible care to our patients and their families.

I always feel proud wearing my scrubs. But it's provided me with extra confidence and happiness to do so this year, since all around the world, my peers, colleagues, mentors, and fellow nurses are all being celebrated for the work they do.”

What is the legacy of Florence Nightingale to the next generation of nurses?
“I've always remembered Florence Nightingale as the mother of modern nursing. For her stout leadership, innovation, and advocacy for advancement in health-care practices. After learning about the work of Nightingale, I feel obliged and honoured to carry her legacy forward and to bring forth the qualities that Florence exhibited throughout her life.

“The next generation of nurses is growing. Therefore, it will be up to me and future generations of nurses to continue the work of excellence and growth in the advancement of health-care practices.”

What’s one thing you’d like to see happen in 2020 to advance the profile of nursing?
“From my experience as a student nurse being placed at several hospitals, and as a health-care aide at Peter Lougheed Center, I have always encountered a shortage of nursing staff at all the different locations. This shortage, in my experience, can lead to many different negative outcomes for the patients, their families, the nurses and the care team. The work that nurses do cannot be replaced or be substituted, therefore it should be a priority for everyone to realize the importance of the work of the care team, and to ensure necessary budget allocations and resource investments are made to continue supporting the work we do.

I hope that in 2020, and beyond, we can move away from the idea of applying ‘budget cuts’ to the vital sectors of society such as health care and education and instead, find ways to better support these essential public institutions.”

Highlight one challenging condition nurses face.
“Short staffing. It is important for this issue to be addressed as it is key to support the work of nurses and the care team with a safe and healthy work environment.”

What’s one thing most people don’t know about nurses or one stereotype you’re often correcting?
“The stereotype that limits the work of nurses to bedside care of the patients in the hospital setting. Similarly, coming into the program, I had a limited view of the profession and the work of nurses.

Nurses are leaders in health care and can be found working in many different aspects of society, ranging from work in the community, in the government influencing policy, as educational instructors, in research and health-care advancements, in acute care settings, and much more.

The opportunities to find work in the field of nursing are endless, and I always urge other to keep promoting the work of nurses and to shed light on the many different avenues that a nurse can pursue work in!”

Set one goal. Right now, for 2020.
“Carrying out a successful, well-balanced end to this difficult year. Facing the many challenges this year has presented, I have somehow found ways to push on and be successful. It's important for me to finish strong, especially after returning to school for my final year. I want to take this time to find new learning opportunities, continue growing as a leader, and finding adequate time balancing school, work, extracurriculars, social life, and ensuring quality time for self-care.”

In January 2019, the executive board of the World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the first-ever Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, in honour of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

UCalgary Nursing will be celebrating the year with a variety of activities including a monthly series of reflections on the past and future of nursing and health care from our nursing community.