Surrey Memorial Hospital pediatric emergency department nurses, from left, Stephanie Juckes, Erica Kearns and Tawney Marier were among recipients of Florence Martin Excellence in Nursing bursaries during Nursing Week. (Photo submitted)

Health care

Nursing bursary passes forward a legacy of caring in Surrey

In Florence Martin’s name, annual bursary is giving young pediatric nurses a boost in Surrey

Kyrsten Downton, Now-Leader contributor

SURREY — Since she was a little girl, Florence Martin knew she was going to be a nurse. What she may not have known was the legacy she would leave behind.

Before passing away in 2008, the single mother of four children, dedicated more than 30 years to nursing at the Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Yolanda Bouwman, director of major gifts for the Surrey Hospital Foundation, said Martin worked hard to leave her mark on health care.

“She was just an ordinary person who did some extraordinary things,” she said.

In a tribute to their mother, Martin’s four children raised money for an education bursary in 2010. The Florence Martin Excellence in Nursing bursary is an annual bursary in the amount of $1,000 for nurses working in pediatrics. Although anyone may apply, preference is given to single parents.

In total, 10 nurses have received the bursary and some of the past recipients had even worked with Florence Martin, making the award even more special.

Bouwman said the bursary not only helps young nurses with finances, it also gives their confidence a boost.

“It’s a real affirmation in this profession,” she said. “A lot of the education that these nurses are having to take is quite expensive. So to have somebody say that I really value what you are doing and I am going to give you some money to be used towards that is pretty huge.”

One of this year’s winners is Shannon Brink, who is also a mother of four. Brink works at both the Langley Memorial Hospital and Surrey Memorial Hospital. She has just started in pediatric nursing and said she finds it rewarding.

“It’s meaningful and practical. I love caring for people,” Brink said. “I love that you can do something tangible to help people but that you can also just be present with them. That can make a huge difference.”

Brink used her bursary to take a tropical medicine course at UBC. She said she feels there is a lack of education for nurses on how to recognize symptoms of exotic illnesses.

“In Surrey, it is very diverse,” she said. “People are coming and going all over the world but we don’t really think about what kind of health needs they may be coming with.”

Brink said the course she took at UBC was extremely valuable for her as a nurse not only locally but internationally. Brink and her husband are taking their family to Malawi in East Africa to work in a local non-for-profit hospital called the Partners In Hope Medical Centre. The family will be staying over for at least a year and is documenting their story on their website.

“My husband and I had worked in West Africa before,” Brink said. “We wanted to go back with our kids and serve. We really hope that our kids can recognize that we live so differently than most of the world. There is a responsibility when you have been given a lot to give back and to care for others who don’t have as much.”

Bouwman said Martin would be proud of what the bursary in her name is achieving.

“She absolutely loved children and she would be so proud to know that she helped those nurses as well,” she said. “These nurses are young and are going to be in the system for a long time. In that sense, it really is a legacy because they are going to be working with children for many years to come.”

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