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Parkash family endows nursing scholarship in Yarmouth

A new $1,500 scholarship will be available to students who enter the nursing program at the Yarmouth campus in September.

Two longtime Yarmouth physicians, Dr. Rajender Parkash and Dr. Asha Parkash, have established a $50,000 Endowment Fund for a Nursing Scholarship to be awarded to a first-year student at the Dalhousie University School of Nursing, Yarmouth Site.

“We decided to create this fund to offer some financial assistance to a student entering a profession we feel would yield the best dividends,” says Dr. Rajender Parkash.

“Post secondary education is becoming more and more expensive and that creates a financial burden and stress,” he says. “It is desirable that individuals, groups and communities help these deserving student entering such a noble profession like nursing.

“It is a profession where one encounters and has to deal with pain and suffering. Alleviating these remains the essential objectives, duties and obligations,” says Dr. Parkash, an internal medicine specialist who spent half his life providing care in Yarmouth. “It requires a certain personality, character, sense of dedication and compassion for caring for the sick.”

He and his wife, Asha, moved from Yarmouth to Halifax in 2008 to be closer to their two sons, also doctors, and their families. Not quite ready to retire, he soon took a part-time position as a consultant with the general internal medicine department at Dalhousie University. For the past five years he’s been edging toward full retirement and now works only a handful of hours a week.

The two doctors were born and educated in India. Dr. Rajender trained and practiced for 10 years in the United Kingdom, then returned to India to marry. The young couple moved to Halifax, where his two older brothers were teachers, and took their certification. Shortly after, they settled in Yarmouth and worked here for 36 years.

Dr. Rajender Parkash had a very busy practice in internal medicine and served as chief of staff at Yarmouth Regional Hospital twice. In 2012 he was presented with the Archibald Gold-Headed Cane Award for Medical Humanities, given by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia.

Dr. Asha Parkash worked part-time as an ER physician in Yarmouth, while raising their two sons, and later worked full-time doing locums for other general practitioners. In 1995, prompted by her own problems with allergies, she took courses in that field and opened an allergy practice in the town.

“We spent many years in Yarmouth and have many pleasant memories and feel obligated to give back in some way to the community dear to our hearts,” the Parkashes say.

The doctors hope that their generosity inspires other philanthropists to contribute to the endowment fund to enhance the value of the scholarship. They’d like to see the fund grow to $100,000 in the next five years.

Adele LeBlanc, Site Administrator for the Yarmouth School of Nursing, welcomes the new scholarship endowment fund.

“The cost of education is such a burden to many students that we are sincerely grateful to the Parkashes for their generosity,” Mrs. LeBlanc says. Approximately 100 students are enrolled in the four-year nursing program at the Yarmouth site, including 27 in their first year of the program, which includes two semesters and a spring nursing clinical. Annual tuition and fees amount to $6,500.

Most of the students are from the Tri-Counties. A few come from elsewhere in the province and there is an occasional out-of-province student. Some 17 nursing students and four non-nursing students who are doing their clinical placements in South West Health live on site in the residence adjacent to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital. “The Yarmouth Site provides an opportunity for students who cannot go away to study, due to family obligations or the cost of living away, to obtain a university education that leads to a meaningful contribution to the community,” Mrs. LeBlanc says.

“Students also choose the site for the advantages that small class sizes offer even when money or family responsibility are not issues.”

The story doesn’t end there. The investment in nursing education in Yarmouth is paying off in jobs for graduates in this community. Every student in the 2015 graduating class has been offered a position at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital, Mrs. LeBlanc says.