Former aspiring engineer follows calling to become nurse, inspires diversity in healthcare




SaltWire Network

National Nursing Week 2022

Inspiration can strike anywhere at any time. For Ahmed Esmat, a soon-to-be registered nurse, his career trajectory was inspired by observing the care provided by nurses right here in Nova Scotia, and he hopes to pass the inspiration on. “I really liked math and science, so I was actually more headed towards engineering,” says Esmat, 19. Witnessing his siblings’ struggle to enter the Canadian engineering field prompted Esmat to open up to other possibilities, and they opened up to him. “At one point, we had a family member in the hospital, and I saw how helpful nurses were, how important they were in the healthcare system, and how they were able to change a patients’ stay and overall experience in the hospital,” he says. “I just felt like nursing really suited my personality more,” says Esmat, who enrolled in Dalhousie University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at 16-years-old. “In nursing, you’re standing, working and talking to people every day.” Now awaiting graduation, Esmat has completed his studies in less than three years, which have included a placement in a cardiac unit and 400 hours of clinical experience. While he has learned a lot, he notes forging personable connections with patients is one of his favourite aspects of the career field. “There have been so many times where I’ve been helping a patient, and once I see how I’m genuinely benefiting them, how what I’m doing provides a change — whether it’s improving their life or stay, a small five minutes or an actual big act — it’s very rewarding,” says Esmat. “Most of the time, patients were super thankful, and they really appreciated everything I did. Of course, that made it even more rewarding and made me try even harder to help as much as possible.” In addition to improving the outlook of his patients, he’s also improving the healthcare system’s outlook regarding diversity. As one of the few male students, Esmat is already a rarity in a female-dominated career field. Add in his Egyptian heritage and Abu Dhabi origins, he is one of very few nurses of colour in Atlantic Canada. “Through all of my time in the hospital and the nursing program, I have not met another male Arab nurse,” says Esmat, who hopes to bring change within the profession. “My goal is to hopefully inspire other people and show them that it’s possible for them to be a nurse and see that there are people of their own kind in the profession.” While he wants to inspire others to chase their dreams, Esmat notes diversity in healthcare is crucial in itself. Having efficiently worked through communication barriers and connected with Arab patients, his presence in the healthcare field is a benefit to the system. “Outside of the language is the culture,” says Esmat. “Having someone who understands someone else’s culture is really important. If you have people educated on various types of culture and how different communities might deal with different situations, then you are able to plan better care for patients with that in mind.” Following his dreams, Esmat is confident that his career pivot was the right decision for him, considering the joy he experiences every day. “I’m thankful and grateful to God for all the opportunities he has presented me with,” says Esmat. “[The most fulfilling thing is] just seeing people get better,” he adds. “Seeing that what you are doing is having a change on someone, even if it’s just the smallest thing, and seeing them just get better in any sort of way.” With graduation in late May and plans to write his National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) soon, Esmat hopes to receive even more education, continuing to explore his options to see where his love of nursing will take him. “The really nice thing about nursing is you can really work anywhere; you can always switch it up,” says Esmat. “Personally, I’ve always really enjoyed learning about the heart and the brain, so I want to work in cardio or neuro,” he adds. “My last placement was an intensive care unit; I think I enjoyed that more - having more intense, complicated cases, but less overall volume of patients. That’s hopefully the direction I’m headed in, more critical care nursing.” With just days before he lays claim to the title of registered nurse, Esmat’s future in healthcare looks bright and full of possibilities, bringing something new to the sector and inspiring many nursing hopefuls. “I’m very open to a lot,” says Esmat. “What I do know is that I really want to get back into school. I don’t think my education stops here; there are just so many avenues, I don’t even know which one I want to pick right now.”