Her eyes light up when she talks about her profession, something that many people never find – that passion for what they do.
Laura Burns, a native of North Grant, Antigonish County, is embarking on her career in healthcare, after receiving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with First Class Honours during St. F.X. spring convocation.
“I knew that I wanted to go into nursing back when I was in high school, actually, in Grade 11,” the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School graduate said.
“I have always had a passion for helping others and I knew I wanted to go into a profession within the healthcare system, but I just wasn’t sure where.”
Burns noted one of her teachers, ‘Mr. Mac’ [Reg MacIntyre], suggested she consider a career in nursing.
“That’s when I really started seriously considering it. Along with my passion for helping others, and just all the learning opportunities, and the diversity of nursing, the challenges that come with the profession, I realized it was definitely suited for me,” she said.
Along with receiving her honours degree during convocation, Burns garnered a University Gold Medal, which recognizes a student with the highest average in the final three years of an honours, advanced major or major degree program.
“I was pretty surprised; I wasn’t really expecting it,” she said of the gold-medal recognition.
“I was at a friend’s house and the list came out, and I said (laughing) ‘I will make sure we are graduating,’ and it was on the first page.
“It was pretty exciting to see my name there,” Burns added.
She also earned the Dr. Winston Jackson Honours Research Award.
“I completed a research study – a qualitative study exploring the experiences of Mi’kmaq women accessing pre-natal care,” Burns, who started that component of her studies in third year, said.
“It was challenging – balancing the work I already had in the program, plus taking on this research study, but it was definitely worth it, in the end; it was a great experience.”
Burns was asked why she selected that research topic.
“I have always been interested in Indigenous health – that interest was actually sparked when I was in Grade 8. My teacher taught us about the legacy of the residential schools and I couldn’t believe that such a thing happened in our own country,” she said.
“My passion for learning more about that legacy and how it continues to impact Indigenous peoples’ lives and their health – that passion just continued to grow, so I knew that I wanted to do research that involved that.
“I was also able to incorporate my passion for health promotion and pre-natal care,” Burns added.
She reflected further on her Xaverian experience.
“My time at St. F.X. was really great – a great community to be part of. I have always felt so supported in the St. F.X. community, especially from my professors,” Burns said.
“It has been really great. The nursing program has just offered me so many opportunities to learn and to grow as a student, as a person and as a future nurse.”
In the field
Burns has accepted a graduate nurse position at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish.
“I will begin working in June, hopefully,” she noted.
Burns added she will also continue her research work with Dr. Joanne Whitty-Rogers and second reader Dr. Cathy MacDonald.
“I am hoping to have my research study published in a nursing article,” she said.
Looking forward, Burns has an interest in mental health nursing, one that developed during her third year at St. F.X.
“I am hoping to specialize in that area down the road,” he said.