As National Nurses Month wraps up, nurse and author Margaret Price reflects on her life's journey guided by faith -- and all the opportunities the field of nursing opened up to her.
1. Through your involvement in helping to start the first Cursillo in Toronto, you received a call to serve that led you to give up your job as Director of Health Sciences at Fanshawe College to serve in more than 17 countries. As a nurse, how did you assist these communities abroad?
When I had first arrived in Canada, from England, I was an SRN, RMN and a State Certified Midwife. After I made my Cursillo and returned to my job as a staff nurse, I developed an interest in the student nurses who were sent to the ward. I would make sure that if there was any procedure or dressing to be carried out, I would either call the designated tutor or show them myself. I decided that I liked teaching, so I applied and got admitted to McGill University. My spiritual growth continued at the same time with service to prisoners trough the John Howard Society, joining Cursillo teams, more regular attendance at daily Mass, and an increasing awareness that all that I had achieved to this point in life was through the grace of God and that I could really place my life in His hands and go wherever the Spirit leads me.
My first assignment, through the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), took me to Barbados to assist in the development of a Health Sciences Tutor's Program. This effort brought together potential tutors from 10 Commonwealth Caribbean Countries. At the end of two years the program was finalized and ready for adoption into the University of Guyana each participating country also had a certified tutor. It was hard but rewarding work. The Cursillo movement was also present in Barbados, and I was able to contribute and grow. Additionally, I was able to join the St Vincent de Paul Society and the Catholic Charismatic renewal. These enabled me to grow in faith, hope, love, and to give more meaningful service.
I then served the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) managing a "Health Management Development Project" involving the Lesser Development Countries (LDCs) of the Caribbean and Barbados. Having organized a workshop on Health Management Development on one of the Islands, I was contacted by the World Health Organization and offered a contract to assist with the development of PHC in 5 countries in Africa (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Sudan and Liberia). I happily accepted and continued to thank the Lord for the many blessings He continues to give to me.
Soon after the completion of the WHO contract, I received a call from Charles Drew University in the US, asking me to join their team to bid for a contract to work in Swaziland. In Swaziland, I was able to help with the development of manuals to be used for the teaching of skills to District Nursing Supervisors and Head Nurses at District clinics. My service to the communities and churches continued. Again, I remained a member of the SSVP Society, spearheaded fundraising activities and even started supporting some orphans. I joined the choir for the first time, and even became a lector. At the end of my three-year contract I was invited by the university to join their team as the Deputy Director for International Health.
2. In your book, “My Incredible Life’s Journey,” you chronicled your life – from being born in one of the smallest islands in the Caribbean to rising to the top of your profession as a nurse while serving God. What role has God played in your life’s journey?
God has always been in control of my life. At first I paid no attention to this, but as I look back, I realize that this was always so. He gave me loving caring parents who taught me to respect others and help others who were less fortunate, to love God and my neighbour. They ensured that I got an education, the basis of which included the catechism "Who Made You?" "Why did God make you?". I must admit that in my youth, although I parroted the answers to these, they did not carry with them the debt of understanding that I developed after making my Cursillo. Looking back, I realized that God had control of everything that has ever happened to me whether good or what I considered at the time to be bad.
I see God's hand in every event in my life, even when I ask and He says 'No'or 'not yet'. even though I am not always clear of the answer.
3. In light of nurses’ month, can you share with us the impact that the vocation of nursing has had on you?
Once I became a nurse, I think I became more compassionate and understanding and found it more easy to work with others as a team. Nursing provided me the opportunity to grow beyond my wildest dreams. Basic nursing skills provided the background on which I was able to build my entire career. Skills in observation, ascertaining the facts, listening to what is said and to decipher what is not said (reading between the lines), encouraging and motivating others to give things a try and offering support and reassurance are all basic to nursing. I have found that my entire career has been based on the development of combinations and enhancement of these skills. Given the right motivation and a strong faith, any nurse can do what I did and achieve even more.
For more information on Price's book, My Incredible Life's Journey, please visit https://www.drmprice.com/.