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Nursing Hero 1st Place: Mark Anthony Gravoso (University Health Network/ Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre)

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I have been inspired, encouraged, and empowered by fellow nurse Mark Anthony Gravoso. He is not only my colleague in nursing but a great leader who truly cares for his members.

Mark has 16 years of clinical nursing experience from the Philippines, Abu Dhabi UAE and Canada. He is an internationally educated nurse (IEN) and is currently working as an RN in General Internal Medicine at Toronto General Hospital (UHN) and on the Vascular Access Team at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. He has completed his Clinical Educator Certificate from the Michener Institute of Education at UHN, is the President of the Integrated Filipino-Canadian Nurses Association (IFCNA) and a Member of the Canadian Vascular Access Association.

He started as an RPN and later became an RN, working full-time at Toronto General Hospital within the fast-paced and challenging General Medicine in-patient unit. Mark is known for his attention to detail and dedication to getting work done. He values the importance of patient-centered care, and he enjoys working with his team to ensure his patients are receiving the best care possible. While in this position, he prided himself on being a mentor/preceptor to newly hired nurses on the floor, students, and internationally educated nurses completing their Supervised Practice Experience Partnership (SPEP) program. He engaged in activities to strengthen competence in nursing skills by providing in-person help to the nursing team. He found his passion for clinical mentorship as he obtained his Clinical Educator’s Certificate from Michener Institute of Education at UHN, and attended the Preceptorship Workshop and RNAO Best Practice Champion Program to gain more knowledge and training to become a more effective mentor.

He also became an RNAO Consultation Representative of the York East Region to the RNAO 98th Annual General Assembly 2023. He is also the 2024 Recipient of the TeamUHN Declaration of Values Compass Pin for his exceptional clinical care, which included empathy and compassion that went a long way to making his patient truly feel seen and cared for. This recognition from patients to TeamUHN staff members during their challenging times in the hospital highlights the five core values of UHN Patient Declaration of Values (DOV), emphasizing Empathy and Compassion as essential components of quality healthcare.

His love for Vascular Access (Difficult IV insertion and troubleshooting CVADs) led him to join Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (Bayview Campus) VAT Team where he shares his expertise to improve patient’s experience in getting IV access with a better success rate of insertion. He also provides education in Vascular Access Care and Maintenance, providing further opportunities for him to meet IENs and encourage them to pursue their nursing career.

As the President of the Integrated Fil-Canadian Nurses Association (IFCNA), I commend Mark’s unwavering support, unrelenting guidance, and mentorship abilities that helped in leading the path to Success for Filipino Internationally Educated Nurses(IENs) in Canada. Mark is an avid supporter of all IEN,s providing tremendous support because he believes that everyone has the power to lift others up with motivational words that can change someone’s outlook on life.

With his passion for nursing and commitment to serving the community, he advocated for the credential recognition of Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) to address Canada’s looming nursing shortage. He pushed for acknowledging credential recognition and streamlining the process of nursing registration of IENs and assistance to those IENs with immigration issues in the roundtable discussions with Parliamentarians and policymakers. He advocated for the need to act quickly to get the country’s many internationally trained, but currently underutilized, nurses and other medical professionals back to work. He identified the obstacles IENs face in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, and gathered recommendations that could help IENs throughout the country reach their career goals. As an advocate for IENs, He presented his recommendations to government during the roundtable conversations he had on mitigating today’s challenges in the healthcare industry. 

Mark presented his recommendations and requested parliamentarians to review them, considering the current shortage of Nurses in Ontario.

1. Extend the duration of the working permits for Registered Nurses

2. Support for nurses applying for permanent residency through the creation of additional spots designated specifically for high-demand occupations such as nursing.

3. Review of the requirements set forth by both OINP streams alongside individual employer-based applications from those same companies that did not assist in either process (work visa renewal or provincial nomination program)

As President of IFCNA, Mark has improved the mentorship programs for all Filipino-Canadian Nurses and enhanced the collaboration with other organizations and government agencies to support IENs like myself in the journey to our Canadian RN dream and successful integration into the Canadian healthcare system by providing information sharing among members and free educational learning opportunities and referral to our employment. Some IENs like myself, do not meet the eligibility criteria of publicly funded employment and educational programs because of immigration status, thus making it difficult to meet CNO’s nursing registration requirements. IENs holding work visa permits like me face a of challenge unique set of challenges but with Mark’s support we are overcoming these hurdles. He makes all things possible for IENs having immigration issues with his initiatives of collaboration with other organizations so we could have free learning opportunities, information sharing, and training. He effectively collaborated with other government agencies so we could have a platform to raise our concerns as IENs and better access to the programs that would help us achieve our nursing license.

He is a nurse who has gone above and beyond the call of duty. He is the nursing hero in our IEN community. nH

Nominated by Froilan A. Imatong, RPN

Click here to see the 2024 Nursing Heroes Special Section

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