Nursing student seeks to foster change and diversity in health care

“Many people do not realize the impact that representation can have"

Kyle Samuels, a master’s student at U of T’s Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, says he wants to provide competent and compassionate care to patients from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds (supplied image)

Kyle Samuels didn’t plan to become a nurse.

“I actually thought I was going to be veterinarian,” says Samuels of his original career plan.

But after completing his first degree in animal biology, he worked at an Ontario zoo and later a vet clinic before realizing he needed to make a change.

“It was when I was applying to vet school that it dawned on me that maybe this isn’t for me. I couldn’t come up with an answer to the question, ‘Why do I want to be a vet?’” says Samuels, who is now starting the first year of his master’s degree in nursing at the University of Toronto’s Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing.

Now working as a registered nurse, Samuels, who is in the nurse practitioner program, has developed a passion for expanding his scope of practice to better serve his patients.

He currently works at a hospital in a more rural area of southern Ontario in the medicine/surgical intensive care unit. Within this smaller 80-bed hospital setting, Samuels says nurses have an opportunity to be a part of an interdisciplinary health team, and to care for a variety of patients throughout their health journey.

Historically, however, nurse practitioners are not often hired into hospital settings in smaller communities, and Samuels is hoping to see that change.

“I want to help play a role in fostering growth in health-care spaces for nurse practitioners,” he says. “We have a lot to offer that could help the health-care system as a whole, and serve the health of everyone.”

By becoming a nurse practitioner, Samuels realizes he has a unique opportunity to play a part in increasing the level of diversity and representation of Black nurses in Ontario’s small communities.

“I work with many people from different ethnicities and backgrounds who are nurses, but when I think about that next step in leadership and autonomy, it would be amazing to see more people of colour moving into the [nurse practitioner] space,” says Samuels.

Samuels says a patient once said he was the first health-care provider who looked like him.

“That really stuck with me,” says Samuels. “Many people do not realize the impact that representation can have, especially in health care, where there is such a power dynamic at play between the vulnerable patient and those providing care. It is one of the many reasons I’m so excited to be pursuing a degree as a nurse practitioner.”

Samuels is looking forward to the placement opportunities that the Bloomberg Nursing program offers. He wants to work with patients from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds to provide competent and compassionate care.

“That’s why I chose Bloomberg Nursing at U of T,” says Samuels. “The [nurse practitioner] program here is unique – you have an opportunity to work in placements in a hospital setting in addition to other community organizations, and there are avenues to gain skills as a researcher, which throws open the doors to future possibilities including potentially pursing a PhD.”

For now, Samuels is ready to settle into the program and learn as much as he can to provide as a future nurse practitioner, including how to remain an advocate for patients ensuring that they always receive the best quality of care.

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