Pat Stuart is a Registered Practical Nurse who has a passion for palliative care, and the positive difference that she makes in the lives of patients and their families every day.
Pat is currently the Executive Director of Hospice Wellington; a hospice located in Guelph, Ontario that provides many support services and programs for patients and families living with life-limiting illness. Services provided by Hospice Wellington include a 10 bed residence, support groups, art therapy, and a variety of other services.
Pat has been a nurse for 40 years and enjoys learning new things every day. Her passion for nursing stemmed from her desire to be a nurse since early childhood, when she recalls putting Band-Aids on her dolls, and wrapping their “broken bones” in flannel. After graduating from the Regional Nursing Assistant Program in Toronto, Pat had a desire to work in pediatrics. As she was looking for work as a new grad, Pat found a position in paediatrics at Doctor’s Hospital in Toronto (currently the Kensington Health Centre). Although the position “scared her silly” as she recalls, Pat was up for the new challenge and was hired into the role. Pat recalls being intimidated by the head nurse on the floor, but recognizes that there are habits that had been instilled in her that she carries with her to this day. Within the first year of working in pediatrics, a permanent position opened up on the pediatrics floor where Pat would go on to work and love, developing life-long friendships that she maintains to this day.
After about 3 years in pediatrics, Pat started working on a medical floor at Trillium Hospital, slowly working her way to other floors such as neurology, neuro-surgery, and a medical floor for diabetic patients. After another 3 years, Pat was recruited by Etobicoke General Hospital on a 72 bed surgical floor, where she enjoyed the fast paced environment, and friends that she was able to make along the way. After working many years in the hospital, Pat wanted to be able to focus on her young family; she felt that it was time to transition out of shift work. Pat was able to obtain a position working in the community for Saint Elizabeth Health Care, where her passion for palliative care developed. She enjoyed visiting nursing, but after having a couple more children and working over 10 years in the community, Pat was ready for the next adventure in her nursing career. She started working as a clinical resource nurse at St. Elizabeth, precepting and mentoring to new hires, with the position eventually developing into a supervisor role which at first, she wasn’t sure about, but turned out to be an excellent fit for Pat. She was able to share her wide range of experiences, and also learn from other passionate nurses. Although she enjoyed this position, Pat couldn’t stop thinking about her true passion; palliative care. Although she knew that in palliative care she would not be able to change the disease process of the patient, the ability to make a difference for patients and their families, and their experience of the dying process was what drove this passion.
After 20 happy years at Saint Elizabeth Health Care, the Director of Care position at Hospice Wellington opened up, and a close friend of hers encouraged Pat to apply. Although she did not have a Master’s degree (which was a recommendation for the position), on the final day that the job posting was available, Pat sent in her application. Never believing that she would be selected, when she was offered the position at Hospice Wellington, Pat was hesitant. After discussing the possibility with her husband and her family, she accepted the position, and started one month later. Pat credits her family for being so understanding and supportive in her decision to accept this position. After 5 years, and a great overall experience, Pat was offered a promotion to Executive Director at the hospice. She accepted.
Today, Pat resides in Guelph where she continues to work as the Executive Director at Hospice Wellington. When she has a stressful day, or is getting frustrated with something, Pat goes back to her roots – helping residents and spending time with them and their families. She enjoys continuously learning and is proud of the team that has been developed at Hospice Wellington. She has 4 kids that are professionals themselves, and make her very proud. She is thankful for their patience, and their ability to understand that her commitment to nursing sometimes means missing family meals and other special occasions. Pat also has 4 grandchildren that continue to bring her immense joy. Her family, friends, and colleagues are all very special parts of her life, and Pat is so thankful for what they, as well as patients and their families have taught her over her exciting career.