A “photovoice” research study helped create a new photo exhibit that sheds light on the lives of B.C. nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Featuring photographs and quotes from 12 nurses, “Through the Nurses’ Lens” reopens Amelia Douglas Gallery following nearly two years of COVID-triggered closure at Douglas College in New Westminster.
Launched Feb. 1, the exhibit “acutely captures the realities of delivering health care amid a public health crisis, down to the lines left on a nurses’ face by an N95 mask,” according to an event advisory.
The exhibit content is from a photovoice research study led by two Douglas College nursing instructors, Ruhina Rana and Nicole Kozak, along with Aggie Black, a director at Providence Health Care.
Photovoice documents and analyzes participants’ daily experiences through dialogue and self-taken photography.
Like the exhibit, the study explored the lived experience of frontline nurses throughout the pandemic.
“Researchers were investigating the virus and how it affected the public,” Rana explained, “but we wanted to explore how the pandemic was affecting nurses on the front lines, physically and psychologically. How were they being supported?”
Their study found that while some of the participants’ photos and dialogue focused on resilience and hope for the future, they also felt great fatigue. Nurses also expressed frustration with delays in communication from leaders and the government, and they struggled with burnout heightened by lack of staff and resources.
Kozak says the study’s results reaffirmed how important it was for the public to see the pictures and what the nurses had to say.
“You don’t want research to sit quietly on someone’s desk. It should change something in, and for, the community,” Kozak said. “It’s essential for people from all walks of life to come experience what these nurses have felt. Our hope is that people throughout the region who see these photos will stand with us in advocating for greater support from the government for nurses and others on the front lines, leading to better working conditions in the sector.”
For “Through the Nurses’ Lens,” an opening-night reception starts at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1, with an artists’ talk at 7 p.m. The exhibit closes May 3.
The gallery is located on Fourth Floor North of Douglas College, 700 Royal Ave., one block from the New Westminster Skytrain Station. For gallery hours and more details, visit douglascollege.ca.