School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Honouring Human Connection in HealthCare – Brittany Friesen and her Hopes for the Kingston Community’s Needs 

Master's of Nursing Science (Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner), Nursing   

by Catherine Andre, April 2022

Brittany Friesen

Queen’s graduate nurse practitioner student Brittany Friesen grew up in Alberta and spent many years in Hamilton before moving to Kingston for her Master’s of Nursing Science degree. Brittany Friesen’s passion for helping others led her to add the extension of Primary Healthcare Nurse Practitioner (PHCNP) Diploma to her degree. This will allow her to practice as a nurse practitioner with much similarity to that of  a general physician; she can have her own clients in the local community and serve them with the training she has in primary care (this includes Doctor’s offices, Nurse Practitioner clinics, Covid assessment centers, prisons, emergency departments). This extended license is extremely beneficial for communities where there are long waitlists and shortages of physicians; clients can now see nurses like Brittany with PHCNP Diplomas for urgent and concerning medical matters. Brittany spent part of her nursing training in Belleville,  working directly with clients in a nurse practitioner led clinic, developing her advanced nursing, diagnosis, and assessment skills.

Brittany’s chosen degree highlights her central passion: prioritizing human connection over reductionistic systems and participating in practical community work. Brittany bases her work in practical action to solve real problems in local communities rather than theoretical reworking of general philosophies in nursing theory. Brittany stresses the need for “community nurses” to listen and incorporate the needs expressed by community members themselves rather than deciding these for them. In other words, Brittany’s wishes to see a shift in healthcare workers’ mentality away from more general care to one that is more specific to community needs. After graduation, Brittany hopes to address healthcare concerns in the local community and own her own clinic in Kingston that has a new, creative economic model. This is a central concern that Brittany wishes to address through her clinic - the current public healthcare system is too expensive and is not sustainable. Her hope is to envision a creatively funded system rooted in a different mindset in nursing, one that involves more communal nurse practitioning rather than individual ones that are largely economic focused. She also suggests rethinking the way we link compensation with skill in order for the system to become accessible for communities in need, as well as better work-life balance for nurses to improve their mental health and therefore that of their clients. Brittany also hopes to reduce local wait times to see practitioners and ease the pressure on current healthcare providers. She wants her practice to be more personal, client-based, and self-defined by those clients so that it performs harm reduction above all else. She wants a clinic that doesn’t segregate and ghettoize, but actually integrates clients into the local community; one that doesn’t define clients and homelessness based on the current contextual healthcare model but as people specific to their own community and needs.

Brittany also holds interest in reducing homelessness. She wrote a research project proposal for this in her quantitative research class, inspired by the Toronto-based street nurse Cathy Crowe. Brittany wishes to continue her studies in understanding  people who experience homelessness and the supports that transition them into permanent homes rather than providing band-aid solutions of homeless shelters. Homelessness is a big concern in Kingston and Brittany will incorporate her work towards this issue into her future clinical practice by blending street and community nursing.  In addition to the street nurse Cathy Crowe, one of Brittany’s largest role models is the Kingston-based community nurse known as The Neighbourhood Nurse Practitioner, who provides healthcare to clients on long GP waitlists but have to receive medical checks much sooner. The Neighbourhood NP is a freelance nurse practitioner who works to find gaps in the healthcare system and creatively work solutions into these gaps. Brittany hopes to meet and interview her one day.

To learn more about graduate programs with the Queen’s School of Nursing go to their website.