"My grandmother was a nurse, and when I was a child, I remember being fascinated by a graduation photo of her wearing her nursing cap and a beautiful blue cape," says Dr. Kristen Jones-Bonofiglio (BScN'02/MPH'08/PhD EDST'15).
Today, Kristen is the Director of Lakehead's School of Nursing—where she's been a faculty member for the past 13 years—and the Director of Lakehead's Centre for Health Care Ethics since 2016.
"I'm proud that all my degrees are from Lakehead – I have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Public Health, and a PhD in Educational Studies."
Growing up in Thunder Bay, Kristen knows the challenges of health care in the north.
"We have higher rates of chronic disease, accidents, and illnesses and fewer resources than the rest of the province. We also have a much older population as well as a large First Nations population with unique needs."
In the face of these difficulties, she has witnessed Northwestern Ontarians consistently respond with resilience and creativity. After completing her nursing degree, Kristen worked at Thunder Bay's McKellar hospital and then at the new regional hospital. After a while, though, she felt restless and chose to be a nurse at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre.
"People are judged when they're in jail, but I found it inspiring, given the trauma they've endured, that they were able to trust me and sometimes even share a laugh."
It opened her eyes to how social and economic factors affect people's health and prompted her to take Lakehead's Master of Public Health with a nursing specialization and to conduct research on moral distress, compassion, and mental health.
A New Chapter for Lakehead's School of Nursing
Kristen's compassion and commitment to helping others means that she is over the moon that Lakehead now offers a Master of Nursing degree program.
"It's about fostering good health for patients and families in Northwestern Ontario and building local capacity for nursing leadership," she says.
This program has two streams: Nurse Practitioner and Advanced Practice Nurse. Nurse practitioners focus on primary care and frontline care, including ordering diagnostic tests, diagnosing diseases, and prescribing medications and treatments.
The advanced practice nurse stream is designed for nurses who want to pursue careers in nursing education, research, leadership, and policy.
"Nurses who've been on the frontline know what needs to change. We are preparing these leaders for roles that may not even exist right now."
"Years ago," she continues, "it was a cookie cutter approach to health care. If you have diabetes, you do x, y, and z. Now we look at what is specific and unique to a patient to foster better health outcomes."
Contact Amy Safar for more information about the Master of Nursing program by emailing her at email@example.com or phoning 807-343-8010 Ext. 7180.
The School of Nursing urgently needs to purchase a new Advanced Cardiac Life Support mannequin that will train students to respond to emergency health care situations. An anonymous donor is matching all gifts up to $10,000, which means that gifts from alumni and friends will be doubled. Learn more about the initiative or to make a gift.