She puts in extra work to make vulnerable communities feel welcome in health care
Job Title: Registered Nurse
At four years old, Jacqueline Koughan stuck her fingers in the arteries of a cow’s heart that the facilitator brought in for educational purposes. It sparked her interest in anatomy.
“The little kindergarten, fill-in-the-blanks thing we took home said: My name is Jacqueline and I want to be a nurse,” says Koughan. “I just wanted to help people.”
Over time, that desire grew stronger.
“The ’90s were a hard time with bullying. I felt like I was nothing — not cool enough, yet super athletic and that was threatening. So, I always just wanted the underdog to win,” she says.
At MacEwan University, she says her education had “colonized values” and encouraged students to “believe we were to save the marginalized.” Since then, she’s worked in remote Indigenous communities in Alberta and British Columbia, giving home care to elders while honouring traditional practices; she’s co-created the Rainbow Clinic (with Dr. Julia Chronopoulus) that focuses on the care of 2SLGBTQIA+ members; and she’s championed 2SLGBTQIA+ rights within the military, receiving multiple awards, including the National Pride Network of the Year award from the Public Service Pride Network in Ottawa this past August.
When a pregnant non-binary person came to the Rainbow Clinic, Koughan could not find any resources that adequately reflected their experience. That night, Koughan spent hours blocking out every feminine pronoun in a giant resource book and then rewriting it so it would have the same resources regularly given to cis-gender women.
“I wasn’t moving mountains but I made a big difference for that one person. It just made me want to keep doing it and keep doing it.”