Nursing Hero Nominee Ali-Akber Shermohammed, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

I am writing to nominate my colleague Ali-Akber Shermohammed for the award. He is a full-time RNs and a great team lead at CAMH schizophrenia acute care unit.

Every day Ali is working very hard combining team lead role with primary nursing. He excels in both roles, making sure his team functions smoothly and also always has time for any of the 25 clients on the unit.  Even though it is not part of his role as a charge nurse, he still spends time talking to clients when they want to talk, helps them deal with their anxieties and symptoms. Clients ask him for help and not the assigned primary nurses because Ali is the best in relating to clients and the most helpful from the client’s perspective. He is great at de-escalating agitated clients and many times he was able to prevent Code Whites from happening while supporting clients through difficult times without the need for restraints.  I learn every day from Ali about how to make clients feel heard and understood and how to build such strong therapeutic relationships that even during worst periods of psychosis they still trust him and willing to talk to him.

In addition, for clients who are more stable he goes out of his way to support their needs, sometimes sacrificing his own needs. For example he takes clients to the gym to play basketball almost every day (not part of his role and not required) and on some days he does not take a break or takes very short break to accommodate this. Clients appreciate this greatly because our unit is highly acute and very busy, therefore other nurses are too busy attending to more acute clients to be able to accompany those who feel better to go play basketball or to work out in the gym.  Ali makes time to play cards with clients or to play videogames or simply chatting and making them feel supported.

He is my personal nursing hero and I believe he deserves this title more than anyone I know.

Thank you,

Nominated by: Julia Knap, RN, CPMHN.


I would like to nominate Ali-Akber Shermohammed as my nursing hero. I know this is long but I really hope it does him justice as he truly deserves recognition for his hard work and dedication.


Full name: Ali-Akber Shermohammed (email: or cell: 6472946950)

Place of work: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health-Acute Schizophrenia Inpatient Unit

Personal Contact Information: Jessica Cristiano (email: or cell: 6474094033)

If a person was trying to choose a career and performed a Google search on what a Registered Nurse is they would find an official definition describing the technicalities and specifics regarding the profession. Anyone can read these definitions and websites, and decide to work hard and go to school and obtain the degree necessary to become an RN. What the Internet will not prepare you for is the hardships in nursing; the dynamics, the sacrifice, and the empathy that is involved. Nursing can be a satisfying career but it also has the potential to be detrimental to one’s health. Think about it, a nurse is constantly putting others needs before their own, listening to their client as well as their family members predicaments, not taking a break which leads to not being able to eat or go to the bathroom, and long shifts that are exhausting. All of these things combined can become overwhelming, they can persuade many individuals to skip that career in nursing and choose a different profession, but some people, some people were just born to be nurses. Ali is one of those individuals.

Ali is constantly working hard to ensure that the clients on our acute schizophrenia unit are relentlessly taken care of. He began as a front line nurse and quickly became amazing at it. He is usually one of the only people on the team (which consists of and is not limited to nurses, psychiatrists, security, occupational therapists, recreational therapists, behavioural therapists, social workers, and pharmacists) to de-escalate a client while avoiding a code white situation. He is known to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and is even called to other floors to assist with their clients in order to avoid a conflict that can potentially lead to an aggressive situation.

Ali respects our clients, who are often marginalized and left out in society. He advocates for them both on the unit and on the street, never leaving his nursing career at the door when he leaves the unit for the day. He rarely will take a break, and if he does it is generally on the unit so he is never too far away if a problem were to arise. Ali understands fully how to be empathetic, he gives the clients someone to speak to, he does not define them by their diagnosis and does not let the diagnosis impede them. Instead, he treats our clients with dignity, he pays attention to their hobbies and likes and dislikes and builds a rapport with them that many other staff members are not able to achieve. Ali is able to get a severely paranoid client to believe and trust in him despite the client’s strong delusions while in psychosis. He allows for the clients to have a safe space with him, he will play games with them, take them to the gym, and take them out on walks instead of taking a break or going home to his family on time.

Ali got promoted (rightfully so) to team lead of the unit. This job consists of being the charge nurse of the unit, basically managing the other staff, doing administrative tasks as well as dealing with bed flow. Most team leaders do not take care of clients as their job becomes more on the managerial side of things, however not Ali. He completes the team lead role tasks exceptionally and is still somehow able to take care of the most acute clients on the unit. He even has time to speak with clients that are not assigned to him, but who often turn to him because they know that they can rely on him. He resonates with the clients regardless of their race, gender, illness, or age and this is what makes him so impactful.

There are many stories that can be told to demonstrate his impeccable nursing but there is a specific one that stands out to me.


A young client of ours had been aggressive to others and was a risk of self-harm and therefore required locked seclusion. The client had a medical issue and thus had to be sent to a hospital in the GTA. This transfer necessitated police, paramedics, two nurses and four point restraints to hold the client to the stretcher to ensure both the staffs safety as well as the clients. I was one of the nurses accompanying the client as well as a different nurse. The client was agitated, irritable and wanted to seek treatment immediately. The staff did the best that they could to avoid any unsafe situations. I was at the general hospital for about four hours by the time the other nurse was relieved as his shift was over and Ali showed up. The affect of the client instantaneously became bright upon seeing him. Although the wait for care was still about another three hours, Ali made those three hours enjoyable. He got Tim Horton’s for the client as he did not eat and did not like the hospital food that was available and he obtained a deck of cards and began playing with him. But it wasn’t these tangible things that he did for the client that stood out, it was the psychological things, like speaking to the client regarding his delusions, his illness, allowing the client to use Ali’s personal phone to make long distance calls to the clients brother in order to set him at ease. The client was medically stable and was taken back to the unit by Ali and I, free of police, and free of mechanical restraints. I saw a different side of the client that day, I saw a person that has issues like the rest of us, that was scared and vulnerable but was able to be put at ease by someone who truly cared.

Nominated by Jessica Cristiano RN, CAMH