This National Nursing Week is one that Trent Nursing professor Dr. Abeer Omar will never forget. After receiving the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence—one of the greatest honours conferred by the Trent/Fleming School of Nursing each year—Professor Omar received a letter of commendation from the Ontario Council of University Programs in Nursing (COUPN) for her achievements in inspiring and motivating her students.
The letter from COUPN Chair Dr. Linda Johnston read, “your efforts in creating a stimulating, interactive, and inclusive environment for all learners throughout the pandemic have been praised by both your students and colleagues as exceptional.”
Eight students and a faculty member at Trent nominated Prof. Omar for the commendation from COUPN, and while she actively strives to support the achievements of her students, she says the formal recognition for her work is very humbling.
“For students to spend time writing letters and nominating you, it’s very humbling and confirms that what I am doing with my students is working,” said Prof. Omar. “It is further motivation for me to continue supporting my students in this way.”
Why students are praising Prof. Omar
With the added complexities of virtual course delivery during the pandemic, Prof. Omar elevated her compassionate and adaptable approach to teaching, ensuring learning best suited the academic needs of students to support their career advancement.
“I know their struggles, especially through the pandemic, so I put myself on the level of my students. I’m always flexible in providing them with deadlines,” said Prof. Omar. “I also strive to create a non-judgmental learning environment so students feel comfortable participating in lessons, discussions and exercises. And my door is always open to talk about anything, from academics to relationships with other students and faculty.”
The results of her work are evident. Since 2020, seven of her students going on to master’s degrees in nursing at multiple universities across Ontario, including the University of Ottawa, Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University), and Queen’s University.
Inspiring students through research
Prof. Omar’s academic work is multifaceted, spanning teaching, work as a practicing nurse, and research, so she has inspired students in a variety of settings.
“Students nominating me for these awards have worked with me for their community practicum hours and on my research,” said Prof. Omar. “When I started with my post-doc in 2013, I had two undergrad students working with me. One of them was recently selected as best nurse at the Detroit Metro Hospital and the other is doing a Ph.D. in machine learning and biostatistics. When I see my students succeed in their career, it is my success also.”
Nursing students at Trent University will see more opportunities to collaborate with Prof. Omar on exciting projects, as this year she also received a grant through the Theall Research Fund, supporting research on the use of voice-to-voice translation in healthcare to aid communication with people who don’t speak English.