As a child, Reem Boudali would scamper by the family television set shielding her eyes at the sight of gory medical scenes on the screen.
As she approached post-secondary study, Boudali’s passion to learn how the human body functions and a desire to help others in need led her to the University of Windsor’s Faculty of Nursing.
However, childhood fears re-surfaced during early stages of her academic journey.
“I remember as part of pre-clearance to get into the BScN program, I had to have my blood drawn,” recalls Boudali. “I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t eat much that day, but I became light-headed, things spiralled, and I almost passed out.”
Boudali remembers being in a hospital environment during a clinical placement in her second year of study, and becoming distressed when she saw live wounds or participated in wound dressing changes. Over time, her anxiety became so overwhelming that she considered dropping out.
Instead, she sought help from student success co-ordinator Fran Meloche and former clinical therapist Shannon Mercer. Through discussion and positive reinforcement, Boudali employed gradual exposure therapy: a technique used to help individuals gradually face and overcome their anxieties by slowly exposing them to situations that trigger their fears.
“After that, things became easier to handle,” Boudali says. “What stood out for me was the faculty’s support system. They took the time to make sure I progressed properly.”
And, she adds, she saw that support extended throughout the faculty.
“It’s little things that add up, like instructors learning to enunciate student names, recording extra videos on content that students aren’t understanding, extending office hours or study sessions for students, and answering emails after hours. Another nice surprise is the Clinical Learning Centre, which provides some resource information free of charge.”
Boudali is set to graduate this spring. She plans to enjoy her accomplishment, re-charge, and then evaluate her job prospects.
One thing is certain: Boudali feels that wherever her career takes her, she will emulate her instructors and continue the same passion, understanding, and genuine care that has helped her to overcome challenges and succeed thus far.