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Melissa Northwood, Alumni Profile

 Melissa Northwood

More than 4,000 students have graduated from McMaster's nursing programs. Here we meet Melissa Northwood, a Nurse Continence Advisor in home care with Saint Elizabeth Home Health Care.

 Published: Jan. 5, 2018

McMaster Degree:

I graduated with my BScN in 1996 and my MSc in 2004.

Current Position:

I am a PhD student and trainee in the Aging, Community and Health Research Unit. My clinical practice is as a Nurse Continence Advisor in home care with Saint Elizabeth Home Health Care. I am also an Assistant Clinical Professor and tutor Level 4 McMaster BScN students in their clinical placements.

How I Got Here:

Since my first clinical placement at St. Peter’s Hospital in 1992, I have felt passionate about nursing care for older adults and promoting healthy aging. As a new graduate, I worked on an inpatient geriatric rehabilitation unit and then an outpatient geriatric medicine program. I moved into advance practice nurse roles in clinical education, palliative care and now in home and community care. I commenced my PhD studies part-time in 2013.

Why I Chose McMaster:

I came to McMaster for my undergraduate degree because of its innovative small-group, problem-based learning model. I continued at McMaster for my Master and PhD degrees because of the people. My supervisor for my Master degree was Dr. Jennifer Skelly, a national leader in advance practice nursing in continence promotion, and the perfect faculty to support my development from a staff nurse to a clinical nurse specialist. Dr. Jenny Ploeg was on my supervisory committee for that degree and I am privileged to have her as my PhD supervisor given her exceptional program of research on health services for older adults and expertise in qualitative research. I am also enriched by having Dr. Maureen Markle-Reid on my supervisory committee as she was my clinical tutor on that first clinical placement that stimulated my interest in gerontological nursing.

How my experience at McMaster has helped me:

When I returned to McMaster for my PhD, my goal was to develop and expand my research skills. The research courses that I have taken, the rich feedback from those professors, and mentorship by Dr. Ploeg and my supervisory committee has strengthened my knowledge of qualitative research, biostatistics and mixed methods research. What I did not expect is that my PhD would also improve my nursing practice. I see and understand clinical complexity in a way I did not before and as such, I am more expansive and holistic in my clinical care planning with both my clients and their informal caregivers. This deeper understanding afforded by my experiences at McMaster will extend to my future program of research on home care nursing interventions to manage clinical complexity in older adults with chronic conditions.


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