Passion and practice

Brenda McLaughlin

Jennifer Parraga, BA'93

Gasping for his every breath, the elderly man clutched his chest. Weakened by a previous condition, his moans were barely audible, but his distress was obvious. The health care team worked quickly to diagnose and provide relief, as they learned more about the complexity of his condition – a palliative care patient, who was non-verbal and suffering from a massive heart attack.

It’s just one scenario that Schulich Medicine students are exposed to during simulation training.

And it’s all part of the job for Brenda McLaughlin, in her role as simulation facilitator for Schulich Medicine – Windsor Campus. In the simulation lab, McLaughlin is the master of the controls, creating unique scenarios that challenge students, setting up and running the mannequins, and acting as the patient while also providing direction and information to students. “I’ve learned to run the mannequins, manage technology and play a little with my acting skills,” said McLaughlin.

Being the simulation facilitator is one of many roles that McLaughlin has as an educator. She’s also a nursing clinical practice facilitator, nursing sessional instructor with the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Windsor, and a nurse consultant in pain management with a local psychologist.

Additionally, McLaughlin recently became the Lead, Inter-Professional Practice with Schulich Medicine in Windsor. She recently had a chance to enjoy the fruits of her labour with her inter-professional practice work at the recent Interprofessional Education (IPE) Day held in partnership with Schulich Medicine, the School of Social Work and the faculties of Nursing and Human Kinetics at the University of Windsor. The activity brought together more than 70 students who worked in teams to gain more awareness and experience working in interprofessional environments.

McLaughlin credits her parents for her passion for education. “My dad’s drive for knowledge gave me a burning passion to know how the world was created and how it works, and that gave me a thirst for knowledge.”

This has led McLaughlin to enrich her own education with an honors bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s in Nursing Leadership – those in addition to her bachelor of science in nursing and a number of certifications in Teaching and Critical Care Management.

In addition, McLaughlin has taken advantage of some experiential learning mission trips to the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Kenya and Uganda. She served as mission team nurse and instructor and found herself doing everything from routine first aid to answering questions from the patients she encountered in the clinics. “I was there to empower people and teach them to be self-sufficient,” she shared.

The missions were life-changing experiences for McLaughlin who encountered the beauty of the people of East Africa, and Central America, and came to understand more about the challenges they encounter on a daily basis. “I’ll never forget the experiences, nor the heart breaking questions I was asked,” she said, recalling one particular question from a patient who asked how to help a three-year-old whose bleeding couldn't be controlled because they had been raped.

The trips, along with her patient experiences, have provided McLaughlin with knowledge that she can share with students, whether it’s in the simulation lab, the lecture hall or at future IPE activities.