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When professionalism and empathy are rolled into one

Last December, nurse Renette Amirault-Laing, who coordinates bilingual services at IWK Health Centre in Halifax, received her Certificate in Ethics and Contemporary Social Issues: Immigration and Integration from Saint Paul University. Renette is one of the first 30 people from across Canada to receive this certificate.

Thanks to the National Newcomer Navigation Network (N4), she had the courage to return to school after a 23-year absence from university in order to improve her ability to help immigrants navigate hospital services — an issue that is close to her heart. By registering for the program, Renette wanted first of all to enhance her knowledge of communication. The classes on interpersonal communication were among those she liked the most, especially when it came to what she learned about non-verbal communication and interview techniques. These techniques are very useful in a hospital setting when speaking with people who are not completely comfortable with one of Canada’s two official languages.

Aside from these courses, her favourite moments remain what she calls “our coaching circles” – group sessions on Zoom that took place during her placement. Health professionals from N4 and a professor from Saint Paul University took part in these gatherings and brought her new insights. Renette especially liked the method used by Nathalie Dupuis, which involves a period of sharing and a period of reflection. These rich discussions unfolded in an atmosphere of trust and safety thanks to the empathy that prevailed in the group.

This determined and caring nurse looks forward to practicing the strategies she learned in her work at the hospital. As Renette puts it so well: “The classes taught us a lot about a population that we know little about. The more we can share what we have learned and stay informed, the more we will be able to integrate this learning in the best way possible.”

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