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St. Joseph's Health Centre Toronto

Meet Mark Kocsis – St. Joseph’s first-ever de Souza Nurse Associate

The last few years in Mark Kocsis’ life have been busy, to say the least. Kocsis graduated from Ryerson University’s nursing program in June 2017, and by November of that year, had begun his career on the Medicine, Oncology and Palliative Care (6M) unit at St. Joseph’s Health Centre. All the while, Kocsis was fueling his desire to improve how he cares for patients and taking the initiative to support his professional development goals.

“I had a student placement in a hospice, which was my first exposure to end-of-life care. I discovered I really like nursing in palliative and oncology. I like being present with patients and families and focusing on psychosocial aspects of nursing,” said Kocsis.

His drive to develop his skills in end-of-life care led him to the de Souza Institute continuing education program.

The de Souza Institute, headquartered at University Health Network, offers courses that empower clinicians to handle every situation in cancer and palliative care. This includes managing pain and symptoms as well as providing emotional support to allay people’s anxiety and fear.

To date, more than 10,000 health-care professionals from across Canada have enrolled in de Souza courses. In 2019, Kocsis became the first nurse from St. Joseph’s – and one of only 45 nurses in all of Ontario – to obtain the de Souza Nurse Associate Designation.

“I’ve always been a go-getter and life-long learner. The de Souza courses have equipped me with the knowledge to provide more competent and confident care,” said Kocsis.

Kocsis’ colleagues and supervisors rave about Kocsis and see a bright future for him at St. Joseph’s.

“Mark is inquisitive and thoughtful and seeks out what is best for the patient experience. He makes time to sit with the patients and learn about their journey, taking a holistic approach to care. He is very empathetic,” said Sheila McEwen, the unit’s patient care manager, speaking on behalf of the 6M team.

At a recent celebration to honour Kocsis’ achievements, his colleague Paula Larrondo, a social worker in the Medicine and Seniors Care program, spoke about watching Kocsis care for her father at St. Joseph’s.

“When my dad was in palliative care here, I had to step back and just be present as a daughter, as a family member. It gave me a chance to watch Mark in action from a different vantage point.

“I was so impressed with his nursing skills and his ability to connect with my family. He’s really intuitive. He’s an absolute gem,” said Larrondo.

Kocsis isn’t ready to take a break quite yet. He will begin Ryerson’s Advanced Nursing Leadership and Management certificate program this fall and hopes to complete his master’s in the near future.

“I’d like to become an educator for end-of-life care and pursue leadership positions. I’m motivated and excited for what’s ahead.”

(Photo courtesy of Malcolm MacKinnon, de Souza Institute)

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