Celebrating our extraordinary nurses

To mark National Nursing Week, we shine a spotlight on three nurses who exemplify our mission of compassion, commitment and community.

Dechen Khandoe, RN; Shantae Johns, RN, MN; Sima Maleki, RN 

Dechen Khandoe, RN; Shantae Johns, RN, MN; Sima Maleki, RN 

Dechen Khandoe, RN, Providence Healthcare

Dechen Khandoe arrived in Toronto in 2009. She had trained to be a nurse in India and was hired as a registered practical nurse (RPN) by Providence Healthcare in 2012.

“Providence really has felt like arriving home for me,” she says. “The culture is one of compassion, and that resonates with my personality. It feels as if I am where I am supposed to be.”

Dechen’s plan from the beginning was to take the courses she needed to upgrade from being an RPN to a registered nurse (RN). The problem was finding a way to pay for them. And that’s when the donors who do so much for Providence came through for Dechen. She had her courses paid for, and three years of part-time studying later, Dechen Khandoe became an RN.

“The word I would use is ’noble,’” says Dechen. “It means so much to me, the generosity and compassion of the people who donated to Providence and helped my career. And I am going to pay their nobility back by helping my patients as much as I can.”

Shantae Johns, RN, MN, St. Michael’s Hospital

For Shantae Johns, a clinical educator in nursing, meeting the human needs of a patient is job number one.

“If a patient is experiencing homelessness and comes in with an infection, they might need a meal as much as an antibiotic,” says Shantae. “Or during the pandemic, giving a tablet to family members so they could keep in touch with a dying loved one can be the greatest kind of care.”

Shantae says she learned that lesson long ago. She was about to treat a patient with diabetes when he interrupted her. “No, no, you’re going to listen to me, and this is how you’ll do the procedure,” she recalls. “It brought home to me that this man lying in bed is a human being, not an illness. I got spun around. I got a new sense of how to support patients and their families.”

So when a donor gave Shantae the chance to go back to university and get a master’s degree, she seized the opportunity to not only gain new tools to better care for patients experiencing disadvantage, but also pass on the wisdom to a new generation of nurses.

“It’s easy to teach a skill, but the art of nursing is more: it’s in how you speak to someone and provide care. If you can instill in a new nurse who may be apprehensive that they can learn that, along with the confidence to teach others, that’s empowering. And that has a ripple effect.”

Sima Maleki, RN, Providence Healthcare

Sima Maleki began nursing in her native Iran, practising prenatal and neonatal care. She laughingly describes how much older her patient base became after she moved to Canada, working first as a registered practical nurse at a nursing home, before working as a registered nurse at Providence Healthcare.

“I went from babies to seniors, it’s true. Not a lot of babies at Providence,” she says. “But caring for people is caring for people. It really doesn’t matter how old.”

For the past 11 years, Sima has been a clinic nurse at Providence, where she coordinates the amputee clinic. The COVID-19 pandemic was a hard time for her–she has almost no family in this country and was always isolating so as to stay healthy for her elderly patients. Through it all, though, she got to keep on helping patients, knowing that the colleagues around her were always looking out for her.

“I have said so many times about Providence, this is my second home. The people I work with are so nice and supportive. We share a mission, and we look out for one another, so we can all support our patients.”

Donate to St. Michael's Foundation.

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