Vanier College is proud to announce that Vanier Nursing teacher Melodie Hicks has been awarded a 2016 prix Florence given by the OIIQ (Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec). Melodie received the award in the category of engagement communautaire in recognition of her community involvement and commitment through the Vanier Malawi Nursing Exchange as well as other community projects she has worked on over the years.
The prix Florence were created in 2003 to honour the accomplishments of nurses and are awarded in eight categories: community involvement, excellence of care, leadership, preventive medicine, health promotion, international involvement, nursing research, and young professional.
“We are extremely proud that Melodie’s work has been honoured through les prix Florence. As a nurse and as a teacher, she is indeed a role model and an inspiration for her students, her colleagues and her entire profession,” said M. Normand W. Bernier, Director General of Vanier College.
The award will be presented to Melodie at the Soirée Florence, a gala benefit at the St. James Theatre in Old Montreal on May 4, 2016.
“I am touched that my colleagues took the time to nominate me for this award. They are all so busy, that it moves me that they support me to this extent,” said Melodie when she learned of the award.
It was during a Vanier study project on HIV-AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2007 that Melodie saw the need of teaching nursing students about global health and making them aware of the cultural component of illness and healing – whether in another country or while caring for the diverse multicultural population of Montreal. And what better way to do so than by taking students out of their element and having them work in a resource poor country like Malawi.
Working with the Nursing department Melodie organized internships abroad for 3rd year students. In 2011, the first cohort of Vanier nursing students left for six weeks in Malawi. Not content to allow only a few students to benefit from such a rich experience, Melodie insisted that the students who went to Malawi would share their observations with others. Hence, she organized an annual Nursing Conference for nursing students at Vanier and other cegeps that focusses on aspects of cultural competence and health care. And every year, the nursing students returning from Malawi present their experience to an audience of some 400 students during the conference.
In addition to the Vanier Malawi Nursing Exchange, Melodie has also been a fervent supporter of the Farha Foundation’s Annual HIV/AIDS Walk, has organized the shipment of containers of supplies for schools and hospitals in Africa, and raised money to buy and distribute mosquito nets to fight malaria in Africa. She has also organized fund raising events to support the Vanier-Malawi nursing exchange and enable students going there to bring with them physician packs of medicines and medical equipment for the hospitals and clinics where they work. Her most recent project is the construction of a small hospital in rural Malawi to bring health care to a population that is currently miles away from any health institution.