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Q&A with Alain Biron, MUHC Director of Nursing

Alain BironAlain Biron, the newly appointed Director of Nursing at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), brings to the position a long and varied academic and professional career in nursing. He began working as a nurse in neurosurgery and cardiac surgery at the Jewish General Hospital, then completed a master’s degree, worked at a CLSC, became an infection control nurse then took on an interim managerial role. In 2009 he completed his PhD at which point he started working at the MUHC as assistant to the Director of Quality and then as an Associate Director of Nursing.

Alain believes improvements to patient care need to be data-driven. He is also a great proponent of strengths-based leadership, a style of management that develops a person professionally based on their strengths and uniqueness.  

Q: What is your two-to-five-year plan as the Director of Nursing?

Recruitment and retention of nurses are some of my top priorities. We need to ensure that our environment is welcoming and that nurses feel supported, especially earlier on in their careers. There needs to be more support in place on evenings and weekends, so that new nurses have someone to turn to at all times. We also need to become “more digital”! Expanding the hospital’s digital capacity will alleviate nurses from certain tasks allowing them to focus more on patient care.

Q: Why would you recommend the MUHC to a nurse when choosing where to work?

We are a university teaching hospital, which means you will see things here that you will not see anywhere else. This also means that a nurse who works at the MUHC has the opportunity to develop expertise that exists in only a few other healthcare institutions. They will be at the forefront of current knowledge in healthcare. The MUHC is committed to investing in the professional development of its nurses. Thanks to the partnerships we have with our foundations, MUHC nurses have access to unique opportunities such as simulation-based learning and bursaries to pursue higher education.

Q: What motivates you to pursue this profession, and especially in such a demanding and high-pressure role?

I have never questioned my role or purpose as a nurse. As nurses, we are results-oriented and immediately see the impact we have in a patient’s life. There is nothing more rewarding than this.

Q: How do you manage to maintain a work-life balance?

My family and friends are key. My sister and brother-in-law are both nurses, so we do talk shop when we get together. Otherwise, my favourite way of disconnecting is going for a walk alone in nature. We must allow ourselves to disconnect, and I encourage my teams to do that.