Award Recipient

Martha Paynter

Dorothy Kergin Award

I became a nurse because nursing is the richest, most practical, and most suitable foundation for social change. After several years of volunteering as a doula and working as a manager for the Nova Scotia Department of Health, I had my first child.  The birth was terrifying and life-altering; in short, my child was saved by the quick response of a nurse.  In those early days of post-partum life, I relied on nurses: maternity in the recovery room, in the NICU, on the Family Newborn floor; family practice nurses at my local clinic; and Public Health nurses in my home and neighbourhood.

I partnered with Public Health to improve access to community breastfeeding support. I learned about human milk banking, and began collaborating with lactation consultant nurses to bring pasteurized donor milk to Atlantic Canada.  I became aware of traumatic experiences of pregnancy and birth for incarcerated women, and felt driven to action, creating an interdisciplinary coalition to serve criminalized women in jail, prison and on parole.  I realized for the advocacy and change I wanted to see, I should be a nurse.   Nursing is about using science, teamwork, and compassion to improve people’s lives.  I am grateful to work as a perinatal nurse and pursue a Doctorate in Nursing that examines inequity in access to breastfeeding support and human donor milk.  My goal is to advance reproductive justice for women and trans individuals through knowledge translation research, advocacy and nursing scholarship.

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