Patricia (Pat) Ford, an assistant clinical professor of McMaster University's School of Nursing, is the 2018 recipient of the John C. Sibley Award for excellence in education.

The award is presented annually to a part-time faculty member who has made outstanding contributions to the education of health professionals. It is named in honour of the former associate dean at McMaster known locally and internationally for his interdisciplinary approach to community health.

Ford, a long-time geriatrics nurse practitioner at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, said she is humbled to be selected as this year's recipient. She acknowledged it is also a nod to those who came before her.

"I'm thunderstruck," she said. "It is a very prestigious award and when I look at some of the other recipients, they are recognized clinicians and I know many of them. They have always been an inspiration to me to give back in any way that I can."

Ford completed a diploma and bachelor's degree in nursing in Montreal, where she worked as a nurse for more than a decade, moving to Hamilton in 1988 to pursue a career at St. Joe's. She graduated with a MHSc degree from McMaster in 1995 and completed an acute care nurse practitioner certificate in 1998. She joined McMaster as a faculty member in 1999.

Wearing the hats of both an instructor and a nurse practitioner in geriatrics, Ford estimates she has mentored more than 100 students over the years from a variety of programs in the Faculty. She also mentors aspiring clinical faculty members.

She said she enjoys sharing her knowledge of geriatric care with aspiring nurses, doctors, researchers and physician assistants, among others.

"I think it is a wonderful opportunity to help our learners see the positives of working with seniors," Ford said. "Having been something of a pioneer in the development of inter-professional geriatric care, I think it is important to facilitate learning with students about the care of seniors. I always try to teach students about such geriatric giants as delirium, dementia and falls, and make them aware of how their care can be optimized.

"We want students to know their approach and interventions can make a huge difference in a patient's quality of life and outcome."

Sandra Carroll, acting associate dean and director of the School of Nursing, said she is proud to see one of their own recognized with the award.

"Faculty members in the School of Nursing are working with students every day and imparting valuable health and life lessons," said Carroll. "Patricia has worked tirelessly to advance geriatric nursing and education over the decades, and she is deserving of this honour."

Ruth Chen, associate professor and assistant dean, academic resources and department education coordinator in the School of Nursing, was integral to Ford's nomination. 

"The School's part-time clinical faculty are vital to the delivery of our undergraduate and graduate nursing programs," Chen said. "Pat's tireless work as an inter-professional collaborator and educator not only strengthens the Faculty of Health Sciences but also exemplifies the School of Nursing's vision of advancing health through nursing excellence."

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