Lois Berry: 45 Years - Retired

For 45 years, Dr. Lois Berry has lived her vocation as an RN in Saskatchewan. Now recently retired, she reflected on her eventful career serving her community.

Following a devastating ankle injury in her final year of high school, Dr. Lois Berry knew nursing was the career she wanted to pursue. “As an idealistic seventeen-year-old, I wanted to change the world. Following my difficult experience as a patient, I decided that the health care system was the place to start that journey,” remembered Berry. “There was much to be done to improve the quality of health care, and I saw nurses as being at the right place to do that. They were on the ground and had strong positive relationships with patients and their families. I believed that nurses had unique opportunities to positively impact the experience of patients and their families, and were a part of the system, and could impact how it worked.” With this ideal in her mind, Berry spent much of her career working to improve the quality of health care as an educator. Since 1979, she has shaped future nurses and their pursuit of making a difference.

So as an educator, what’s the most important thing Berry has learned throughout her own career? “I had no idea the impact that the patients, families, community members, leaders and colleagues would have on me,” remarked Berry. “The stories that I have of my experiences are with me every day. I have shared the anonymized stories of people and their experiences with health, illness, health care and health policy in my teaching throughout my career, to help students understand the importance of advocacy and action in ensuring that patients receive what they need, and that systems and policies support good health.”

Berry’s students and teaching experiences have positively impacted her own story moving through her life. She concluded by sharing what inspires her, even now as a retired RN:

“I am inspired by the patients, families and communities that I have met and worked with in my career. I am inspired by the mother of a five-year old child born with a life-threatening health condition who has advocated for him during his eight hospital admissions for surgery, working as an integral part of his health care team, teaching staff about what it really means to be patient and family-centred and to work as an interprofessional team. I am inspired by community members and leaders such as those in the community of La Loche, which has been faced with a health crisis of potentially catastrophic proportions, and who welcomed health professionals and workers into their community and worked closely as part of the team to fight back against COVID-19 to protect their community. I am inspired by nurses and health professionals who use their skills based on science to ease suffering, provide comfort and be present in the lives of patients and their families during times such as these. And I am inspired by leaders who fight for what is needed to keep individuals and communities safe and able to prosper in troubling times.”

“Nurses must have courage—courage to make tough decisions, courage to advocate and to stand up for patients, courage to take action. The people we serve expect us to protect, support and be there for them, and value us because we do. It would often be easier to take a different road—to not act, to not advocate, to avoid tough decisions—but we can’t and we don’t. And that takes courage.” Lois Berry

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