Sept. 26, 2022

Nursing students secure Students' Union Quality Money grants this fall

UCalgary Nursing sees successful applications for Faculty of Nursing COVID-19 Leadership Scholarship and Elders in Residence program
Faith Moghaddami, left, and Alice Choi
Faith Moghaddami, left, and Alice Choi.

Thanks to the successful applications from nursing students, UCalgary Nursing will benefit from two Students’ Union (SU) quality money grants this fall and beyond: the Faculty of Nursing COVID-19 Leadership Scholarship and the Elders in Residence program. 

It is never surprising when nursing students step up to help their classmates, but in the midst of the pandemic, both Alice Choi and Faith Moghaddami felt something significant was lost. For Choi, who crafted the scholarship proposal, it was about recognition; for Moghaddami, it was a gap in Indigenous knowledge. 

“Nurses continued to work despite the chaos and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and nursing students also stepped into hospitals and long-term care facilities,” says fourth-year student Choi.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to learn and develop our skills through clinical practice, but we are not compensated for those hours because it is a prerequisite for graduation. I found the dedication of my peers to be incredibly inspiring during COVID.” 

That got Choi to thinking about how nursing undergrads may be disadvantaged because they are a small student body relative to other faculties.

Despite our size, the work and impact we will make in the greater global community may be huge. What might be a way to promote leadership in clinical practice, like was done during the pandemic, to encourage students to actively seek leadership opportunities?  

Choi’s successful application will see a total of 24 scholarships of $1,000 each equally distributed to third- and fourth-year students, six to each group in 2022-2023 and six again in 2023-2024. 

“In addition to inspiring continuing service and leadership contributions to the community, it will relieve some of the financial burden of tuition and NCLEX (the national registered nurses exam) preparation and fees,” says Choi. 

Alice Choi and FMC clinical group in 2022

Alice Choi and FMC clinical group in 2022

As the Indigenous Initiatives representative on the Undergraduate Nursing Society (UNS), Moghaddami was discouraged by the loss of momentum, resulting from the pandemic, experienced by nursing students engaged in activities to develop more cultural awareness in the faculty.   

“Opportunities for Indigenous knowledge-sharing in particular are integral to nursing education within UCalgary Nursing, where practices of inclusivity and cultural competence and safety are taught as fundamentals of nursing practice,” explains Moghaddami, who, in addition to her UNS role, was also part of that committee addressing under-represented Indigenous experiences and voices. 

“I spoke to (former UCalgary Nursing Indigenous Initiatives co-directors) Heather Bensler and Louise Baptiste, and Louise introduced the idea of the Elders in Residence program. We would welcome Indigenous Elders to the university on a monthly basis to share their experiences with students and stimulate discussion around the long-term impacts of colonization and cultural competence in health care.”

FONII group at Glenbow at The Edison

FONII group at Glenbow at The Edison

Thanks to her successful proposal, the students will receive almost $4,500 to fund a program supporting, among other things, some transformations to the space within the faculty for Elders, smudging supplies, gifts, honoraria, parking and refreshments. 

“Our expectation is that this becomes a sustainable, long-term service,” Moghaddami says. 

The SU Quality Money is an essential step to collecting evidence for the need for similar, culturally inclusive initiatives on campus. Ultimately, once the project becomes available and has successful results, applying for other types of financial aid to sustain the program will be highly supported and evidence-based.

The SU Quality Money program is a unique partnership between SU and UCalgary. Each year the SU is provided with approximately $1.65 million from the UCalgary Board of Governors to invest in projects that will enhance the overall quality of student experience.