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Critical thinking will get you everywhere

From left, Unique Critique team members Chris Harty, Dr. Sandra MacDonald, Daisy Dawe, Gina Colbourne and Catherine Burt.

By Michelle Osmond

For the first time in the competition’s 16-year history, a nursing team has advanced to the finals of the Canadian Evaluation Society Case Competition (CES) for students. In fact, this was only the second time a nursing team had entered the national challenge.

The win means four Memorial University School of Nursing students are heading to Edmonton, Alta., in May. They were chosen as one of three teams out of 22 university teams from various disciplines during the first round of competition in February; a competition which helps students build skills in evaluating public policies and programs.

After only two years of coaching CES teams at Memorial, nursing professor Dr. Sandra MacDonald said she’s inspired by the students’ efforts that went above and beyond the call of duty.

“This team is very special,” she said. “They have the right combination of skills and knowledge to bring home the trophy and we are cheering for them.

“Many people don’t realize that registered nurses conduct program evaluations all the time. The evaluation of nursing interventions is an integral component of our practice and registered nurses often don’t realize their own expertise in this area.”

On the team, aptly named Unique Critique, are Catherine Burt, Gina Colbourne, Daisy Dawe and Chris Harty. They started preparing in November and spent many Saturday mornings and evenings discussing program evaluations with experts and practicing for the competition.

Ms. Burt said she was in class when she found out they’d won via a text message.

“To say I was ecstatic is definitely an understatement. I wanted to jump up and down and scream out the great news, but Gina, one of our team members, was doing a presentation. However, I did mouth the words ‘We won!’ to Gina and she knew immediately what I was talking about.

“Initially this competition was just something we participated in to be graded as an assignment. Never in a million years did we think that our group would be selected as one of the finalists,” she added. “It has been a tremendous learning experience and I am so looking forward to participating in such a prestigious competition.”

“I am a little nervous, but mostly excited. Making it to nationals – that’s our victory,” added Ms. Colbourne. “Whether we win up there or not is just extra. It’s a little intimidating competing against these other major universities, but we work well together and intend on trying our best and having a blast. Our pride will carry us.”

The final competition will be held as part of the national conference of the CES. The other finalists are from Carleton University, School of Public Policy and Administration, and the University of Saskatchewan, Applied Social Psychology. The team that makes the best presentation takes possession of the case competition trophy for a year, receives prizes and is featured in various publications.