'The support from the instructors and the value of the experience were priceless as it really helped us tie in all our learning and build our critical thinking'
Q: How did you end up at Okanagan College?
A: I live in Salmon Arm with my husband and two kids. Now that my kids are school age, I had the opportunity to re-start my career path and change careers - never too old to go to school! I was interested in nursing and Okanagan College has a Salmon Arm location which worked great for me to balance family and school life.
Q: How did you choose your program?
A: I had worked in the business/administrative end of health care for quite a few years and the clinical side always intrigued me; specifically, the nursing aspect of health care. Initially, I was interested in taking the RN program in Kelowna, but with family/life commitments in Salmon Arm, I found the travel would be too much to juggle. Then I found the Practical Nursing Diploma program at Okanagan College and felt it was a great fit for me.
Q: What is your area of interest?
A: This is a hard question, as it changed during the program and may change again in the future. Initially, I was and still am very interested in the surgical and pre- and post-operative care of patients. However, I had selected a labour and delivery rotation at Vernon hospital for my semester 4 clinical, mainly because working with babies terrified me, and to my surprise, I absolutely loved the experience and became very interested in that area of practice.
Q: What do you like most about the program?
A: I really liked how we would have a semester with theory and lab practice and then a clinical placement in a facility or hospital to really bring the learning together. I also liked how each semester built on the last, which is the spiral education model, as it also helped reinforce learning from semester one into semester four and the final preceptorship.
Q: Favourite class experience?
A: The integration days we had each semester were scary and fun all in one. These were days where we would be teamed up with other students and have "mock" clinical situations that we would have to navigate through. These were very nerve-wracking simulations, but the support from the instructors and the value of the experience were priceless as it really helped us tie in all our learning and build our critical thinking.
Q: What does it mean to you to be a nurse?
A: To me, to be a nurse means I get the privilege of being there on the frontline to help patients/clients through tough/challenging times in their lives while also being given the opportunity to care. As a nurse, I am able to show compassion and care for each individual patient through how I interact with them and support them with their individual needs. Being able to care and help patients through a journey of recovery or comfort is a real privilege I feel honored to be a part of.
Q: Nursing has received a lot of attention this year due to the pandemic. What has it been like being a student entering the profession at this time?
A: Yes, I have heard a lot of my friends and family say, “What a time to get into health care!” and that is definitely true. I feel the pandemic has made the importance of infection control and proper personal protective equipment (PPE) practices even more of a reality for me than it would have if I had graduated in non-pandemic times. I also felt really prepared to enter the profession during the pandemic because my knowledge on infection control and PPE is so fresh and up-to-date.
Q: Who gave you the best advice you ever received?
A: That is a tough question as I cannot just narrow down the advice I have received over the years to just one. I have such a supportive family and friend network that continuously provides me with advice and encouragement to challenge myself in life, like starting a new career. In regard to nursing, Lisa Matthews gave me great nursing advice when she was supervising me in semester 2 clinical for a day. She said, “Don’t worry about how fast you are, but rather focus on being thorough and taking the proper approach to patient care, that way the correct techniques will start to come natural to you and your speed and efficiency will eventually follow."
Q: What advice do you have for new OC students?
A: The mantra I follow and tell my kids daily is “Work hard, be kind, be brave and BE YOU,” and if you do all those you will succeed. Every nurse brings their own individual perspective and skills to the table, and if you work hard and push through, you will succeed. Be confident in who you are and trust your gut.
Q: Where are you the happiest?
A: Shuswap Lake with my family and friends (including my four-legged family members).
Q: What matters most to you right now?
A: Family, friends, pets and providing quality patient/client care.
Q: What will you be doing in 10 years?
A: Progressing my nursing career, exploring different areas of nursing, and enjoying my family and friends and the Shuswap life.
Practical Nursing Diploma
Gain skills, attitudes and judgment needed to perform in a career in health care, with learning experiences that are integrated, professional, collaborative and culturally sensitive.
Careers in care
Careers in health care and social development provide a meaningful way to meet the needs of families and communities. The Okanagan region’s population and demographics provide diverse learning opportunities in a range of fields. Practical-oriented programs prepare students for careers in health and social development settings, including hospital and community nursing, long-term care, home care, social services, non-profit societies, children’s daycare and more.
There are 10 different Health and Social Development programs available at Okanagan College, with training covering physical therapy, pharmacy, early childhood education and nursing.