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Showing courage and support in the face of 'emotional fire'

​Joanna McKay, psychiatric consultation liaison nurse at BC Children’s Hospital, received a PHSA+ Award for being a role model to staff.
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Psychiatric consultation liaison nurse at BC Children’s Hospital. It’s quite a title, but it suits Joanna McKay just fine, because it’s her dream job. 

Joanna received a PHSA+ Award for being a role model to staff. Her colleague, Dr. Kelly Saran had this to say about her:

“Joanna McKay exemplifies the best in us. She is often the first person a distressed colleague may reach to for help when they are struggling with complex patient mental health problems. Our staff know if there is an “emotional fire” burning on a medical unit – you can count on Joanna to be there with them and jump past the flames of stigma and fear with courage, compassion, and immensely practical support.”

In Joanna’s words

What does winning this award mean to you?​

I have so much admiration and respect for the people I work with, so to be nominated for this recognition by my colleagues is really moving and meaningful. It’s great to know that the feelings I have about my coworkers are mutual. This is also a reflection of the amazing support everyone at C&W has for one another. We’re really a team that supports each other’s growth and success.

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

The opportunity to work with young people and families during challenging moments feels so rewarding. I can relate to and connect with them on a human level. It’s also so rewarding that I get to build strong connections with my colleagues as we all work together toward a common goal – to support and care for children and families. 

What inspires you to go to work every day?

I’m inspired by my team and the passion they have for the work we do. It fuels me to see how dedicated my colleagues are, it encourages me to keep showing up and doing my best every single day. I’m also deeply inspired by the children and youth I get to work with. It’s powerful to see patients overcoming adversity and showing their resiliency. I consider it a privilege to be able to accompany them on their journey toward wellness.

How do you describe your role?

In my current role, I am the nurse clinician for the team who provides psychiatry consultation at BC Children’s Hospital. I work with physicians and nurses to help assess, understand and connect patients and families on the medical and surgical wards with mental health care, resources and supports. I also co-facilitate the Mind Body Together Group, which supports youth and families in understanding the bi-directional relationship between emotions, stress and physical symptoms. 

What has been one of your proudest moments at work?

One of my proudest moments was really being the successful candidate for this role. I started out my health care career at the bedside as a nurse in neurology/surgery, and being able to move from there into this position was such an exciting transition for me. Building on all my clinical skills and being able expand into the area of mental health, where I get learn new things and apply those learnings to serve patients and support staff. It’s really been a bridging moment in my career.

Which one of the PHSA values has stood out to you most in the past year?

While all the PHSA values are so important in the work we do, respecting people is a core value of my personal work philosophy. I also think it is closely related to the value of being compassionate. Not only in the field of health care, but in every aspect of life, it’s important to recognize that everyone is doing the best they can and that everyone is deserving of being treated with compassion and respect. 

What is your life like outside of work?

I have an amazing core group of people in my life – my family and friends – and I love spending time with them. As well as my furry friends, my cat and dog. It’s so nice to come home to cuddly pets at the end of each day. I also really enjoy cooking! Now that fall is here, I’m excited about making lots of delicious soups to keep me warm all season long.​

About the PHSA+ Awards program

The PHSA+ Awards are part of an internal recognition program that celebrates teams and individuals who bring our PHSA values to life in the workplace. They go above and beyond to serve patients and families across B.C. Read about the other PHSA+ award recipients for 2022.

BC Children's Hospital
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