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Leanne (Hickson) Siracusa, Alumni Profile

Leanne Siracusa 

More than 4,000 students have graduated from McMaster's nursing programs. Here we meet Leanne (Hickson) Siracusa, Part time Faculty at McMaster University School of Nursing (SON) 

Published: August 2017

McMaster Degree:  I graduated with a BScN in 1977. 

Current Position: 

I teach part time in the SON undergraduate program.  I have taught most nursing courses. Recently I have focused on professional practice courses, i.e. community nursing and fourth year placements in acute care, long-term care and community settings.

How I got here:

I started my career in a supposedly relaxing job as a camp nurse on an island.  Working virtually alone with 90 campers from low income families was a shock.  This led to valuable learning about issues such as communicable disease and poverty.  I dealt with contaminated water, a diphtheria outbreak, first-time seizures and counsellors’ issues such as pregnancy, suicidal ideation and alcohol and drugs.  Given few available positions, I nervously accepted a position in ICU at Sick Kids.  With no Nursing Grad Guarantee and resentment from some college RNs, I became a stronger self-directed learner.  In 1979 with more confidence, I worked as a generalist public health nurse in Scarborough and later a specialist with seniors.  I developed new skills as a manager for a year. I earned my Master of Education (MEd) in 1989 from the University of Toronto. In 1990, I returned to Hamilton as a public health manager.  As a cross appointee, I taught SON courses, tutored clinical and participated in research with SON.  I moved to Sarnia in 2005 where I taught BScN students at Lambton College, affiliated with University of Windsor.  In 2008 I returned to Hamilton and happily resumed teaching at McMaster. 

Why I chose McMaster:

At the tour, I was impressed with the enthusiasm and friendliness of the students and faculty.  PBL, self-directed learning and the small group approach appealed to me, compared to the traditional lecture format I expected.  Being from a small town, I was drawn to the beautiful “walkable” campus that was medium “right” sized. 

How my experience at McMaster has helped me:

During my camp nurse and ICU experiences, I appreciated our 4th year “Nursing Trends and Issues” course. We discussed “reality shock”, studying futurist Toffler’s Future Shock.  He predicted tremendous societal changes with oncoming technology and an information age.  My teaching and research involvement at SON has helped me tremendously in practice and as an educator.  I’ve experienced the evolvement of “rationale/principles” to evidence informed practice, “psychosocial needs” to holistic care, “nurse as change agent” to advocacy/political action and “problem solving” to critical thinking.   All of this helped me develop as a nurse, manager, educator/mentor and person.  That sometimes-painful group PBL led to strong team work and collaboration, especially with other disciplines/sectors.  This is particularly critical in coalitions and advocacy/political action work I have done with public health, RNAO and now the Canadian Federation of University women.  Learning about the social determinants through my public health placements set the stage for my later work in public health and volunteer advocacy work, e.g. anti-poverty coalitions. Excellent decision to come to McMaster!




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