Award Recipient

Lauren Airth

Extendicare Gerontology Award

I became a nurse because I wanted to help people, specifically marginalized populations.  The mental health field took me by surprise when I was hired as a care aide at a home for adults with mental illnesses.  This led to placements on mental health units, volunteer work, countless initiatives, and public speaking to decrease stigma and increase awareness.  I became passionate about a topic people were afraid to discuss, which included being more open about my personal mental health.

Since graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2014, I’ve maintained three casual positions at Kelowna General Hospital: inpatient mental health, mental health and substance use liaison, and emergency mental health.  I’m also a clinical instructor with the University of British Columbia – Okanagan where I get to share my passion with BScN students.  In 2017, I was honoured as a ‘Canada 150 Nurse’ through the Canadian Nurses Association for my work in mental health.  More recently, I’ve been counselling students at UBCO through their clinic.

I’m currently pursuing my Master of Science in Nursing and my thesis is on rural older adults’ mental health.  After losing family members and being a patient myself, I strongly believe the key to a better health system can be found in our patients’ stories.  I feel honoured every day to be allowed into peoples’ lives so intimately.  These days, I take care of my own mental health through skiing, running, spending time with my nephews and taking my Great Dane hiking.

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