Janice Dobson (BEd ’20) can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to be a nurse. It was a dream she accomplished in life, but one halted by an injury decades into her career.
Her impact in nursing will continue, however, as the recent Brock graduate works to teach the field’s next generation.
Brock’s Fall Convocation on Friday, Oct. 16 marked a milestone in her journey to a second career, as Dobson, 56, graduated with a Bachelor of Education in Adult Education.
She previously worked as a registered nurse in labour and delivery for 27 years. However, shoulder surgery in 2013 left her unable to return to bedside nursing.
Dobson wasn’t ready to retire and felt she still had too much to give. But without a degree, she had few opportunities for leadership roles in her field.
She graduated high school as a registered nursing assistant and went on to complete a diploma in nursing at Centennial College. After transitioning away from bedside nursing, she found herself teaching nursing students at Centennial and enrolled in the Post-Diploma Degree Program in Nursing at Ryerson University.
“I thought ‘I’ve found my second career. I want to teach,’” said Dobson. Looking back, she sees elements of teaching throughout her experience, particularly in labour and delivery nursing where nurses often teach patients how to care for babies.
With a new goal in sight, she transferred from Ryerson to Brock’s Adult Education Program in 2016.
“It’s an opportunity to give back,” Dobson said of the new teaching venture. “I had this wonderful career in nursing and look what I can do. I can teach tomorrow’s nurses.”
Returning to school after years in the field did not come without its challenges. As a mature student, Dobson had to balance home, work and school responsibilities. While completing her program, she continued to work at Centennial as a practical nursing clinical instructor and in a support role helping to co-ordinate clinical placements.
Her students were eager to learn from her years of nursing expertise and she was able to empathize with their experiences as students. Dobson used what she was learning in her Brock classes to help her students succeed.
As well as the challenges of balancing responsibilities, Dobson also had to learn how to write academic papers and put together presentations but persevered with the support of family and friends.
“My daughter would sometimes read my papers and give me feedback,” she said of daughter Rachel Dobson (BRLS ’11), a Brock graduate and one of the reasons Dobson chose to pursue her degree at the University.
Dobson recalls attending her daughter’s graduation in 2011 and celebrating her family’s first-ever university graduate.
She remembers seeing the photo of her daughter celebrating the occasion with family and thinking she’d loved to have a similar graduation photo of her own someday.
While Brock’s Virtual Fall Convocation was not what she originally imagined, Dobson is incredibly proud of earning her degree and of her family’s support as she begins a new chapter.
With her Bachelor of Education completed, she plans to teach nursing students as well as those in related health-care fields.