July 12, 2023

Alumni-driven event gives nurses chance to connect and focus on self-care

UCalgary Nursing Alumni Committee hosted inaugural WellNurse event in June
Sandy Johansson leading a session on burnout
Sandy Johansson, MN NP, leads a session on burnout and completing the stress cycle.

On June 24, the UCalgary Nursing Alumni Committee hosted WellNurse, a free event open to alumni, faculty, students, staff and community that was focused on self-care and recharging mind and body.

Cydnee Seneviratne, PhD’08, MN’07 moderated the full day workshop at the Rosza Centre and other experts in health and wellness, some who were UCalgary alum, rounded out the program. Matt Flynn, BKin’18 and James Staines talked about exercise and nutrition, Grandmother Doreen Spence spoke about Indigenous connections to the land and fourth-year nursing student Madeline Hermann, BHSc’14 ran a yoga session. After the lunch break, Sandy Johansson spoke about mental health and Justin Burkett, BN’14, MN’22 discussed mindfulness.

Madeline Hermann performs a healing sound bath

Madeline Hermann, BHSc’14, uses a healing sound bath to guide attendees in meditation as part of the yoga session.

“Nurses tend to give so much to each other, to their patients and community partners, and their families. What they don't do is give back to themselves. This event was created to offer a way for our alumni to take a moment, breathe, and put themselves first,” says Seneviratne.

Attendees ranged from recent grads, students, staff and even alumni from the Class of 1975. Each session during the full-day workshop had something different to offer and invited participants to think differently about their personal needs to acknowledge stress and find ways to honour self-care.

MJ Calungcaguin BN’17, president of the UCalgary Nursing Alumni Committee says “nurses just do not stop. Most of them are just always so ‘on the go.’ Most nurses have ‘a-type personalities’ which can be good when it comes to patient care, but not so good when it comes to self-care - and that's why stress is rampant in the community.

We know that it's important to prioritize your mental wellness, whether it's through education, self-care, and connection with the community - all of which were the focus of this event.

Seneviratne says a personal highlight from the day was hearing Grandmother Spence speak. She says, “Grandmother invited the group to learn about the Indigenous four realms. I was so moved, and honoured to learn from her and Dr. Michelle Scott. I felt so safe to stop and reflect in order to 'feel' and 'experience,' which I never take time to do for myself.”

For Calungcaguin, the yoga sound bath and mindfulness session left the biggest impression.

“It was good to experience how certain sound frequencies can be therapeutically grounding,” he says. “Our mindfulness session lasted for 15-20 minutes, but it felt like two minutes to me.”

Calungcaguin says he hopes to see the event recur annually and while future iterations may look slightly different, the underlying goal and purpose will be the same — to connect and work towards minimizing professional burnout, feelings of disconnection and lack of self-care.

This event was organized and supported by the UCalgary Nursing Alumni Executive Committee. If you are interested in joining the committee, learn more at nursing.ucalgary.ca/alumni/committee