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Sally Breen

2013 Nursing Excellence Award recipient

Excellence in Nursing Education

Regional Clinical Educator, DTA Transition Support
Vancouver Coastal Health

Combining “humanity with diligent research” and an “Oprah-like” style for engaging audiences, Sally Breen has become one of the most inspiring nurse educators in British Columbia.

Sally has a BSN from the University of British Columbia and is a Certified Registered Rehabilitation Nurse, but her learning and contributions to the knowledge base of B.C. nurses has never stopped. She has authored and co-authored important manuals, articles and other resources to help nurses deliver better patient care, particularly in the field of sexual health for those with illnesses and disabilities.

She is dedicated to promoting the health of individuals, families and communities through writing, creative practice, teaching, counseling and consulting. “Sally’s many presentations and workshops both here and internationally receive high acclaim,” says Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) Clinical Education Executive Director Barb Lawrie. “Her successful delivery of sexual health information in Hong Kong shows off her incredible ability to connect with audiences no matter what their background or culture.”

Sally uses simulation, case studies, clinical questioning, demonstration and audio-visual tools to support learning. She has a student-centered approach and a natural and engaging style that audiences appreciate—and which other nurses love to emulate.

"As a relatively new rehabilitation nurse and ‘green’ sexual health clinician, I needed a lot of encouragement and support to function," Lawrie says. “Sally’s patience, knowledge and support helped paved the way for me to excel in the field of sexual health rehabilitation.”

In addition to Sally’s one-on-one clinical work and presentations to audiences, she has had an important impact on B.C.’s best practices for nursing. For instance, she participated in a provincial group that was working on integrating sexuality guidelines into residential care facilities with aging clients, with the aim of developing guiding principles for staff.

She has also developed VCH’s online sexual health information package and many presentations and workshop exercises and outreach education. Sally has an uncanny ability to teach her students at the level they need, Lawrie says. “She uses role play, storytelling and humor to make it relevant to the learner and make concepts clear, interesting and memorable.”

Sally consistently shows excellence as a professional nurse in her clinical work with the Canadian Men’s Clinic and as an Educator in Regional Programs at VCH and Co-Lead Assessor in the Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) Assessment Centre at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Outside of a clinical setting, she has volunteered for years at organizations including the Task Force on Women with Disabilities, the American Association of Spinal Cord Injury Nurses and the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses. “Her work in sexual health is socially progressive in assisting clients with disability to live full lives in their choices,” Lawrie says. “She acts as an advocate for those who are challenged—and in choosing to work with people with disabilities, new immigrants and those returning to work after injury or illness, her humanity is front and centre.”

An amazing nurse educator and an inspiring person, Sally Breen continues to help British Columbians achieve holistic health and a high quality of life.

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