Q: Where did you go to Nursing school and where was your first job?
A: I went to nursing school in Queens in Kingston, Ontario. During school, I went to England one summer to work and stay with family. I loved it so I started going back for Christmas’, school breaks and summers. I had pretty much moved there during nursing school. After I graduated, I moved there permanently but I couldn’t work as an RN because I was told I needed a year’s worth of full-time RN experience in Canada before they’d give a me a nursing license. I worked as what was called a Senior Health Care Aide. It’s similar to an LPN role except we cannot give medications.
Q: What brought the family to Canada?
A: My mother came to Canada for university and that’s when she met my dad. Our family moved to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. I left for university and my family moved to Saskatoon after I left. My sister moved to Calgary to study criminal justice at Mount Royal and my brother became a pharmacy assistant. When I returned from England, my family was in Calgary, so I stayed.
Q: Where was your first Registered Nursing job?
A: In a rural hospital in Drumheller. At the time there was a hiring freeze. I kept applying and was fortunate to get a job on Unit 32 at FMC. As it frequently happens on Unit 32, someone from Unit 21 called and asked if we would come down and start an IV. I started talking to the nurses and saw how much they liked working mental health. I sent the manager an email and was called for an interview. I began working casually until a line came up and I got the job.
Q: What was it that led you to choose nursing as a career?
A: Both of my parents worked in environmental public health. They worked closely with public health nurses. When my mom explained to me the role of the public health nurse, I was surprised to learn that nurses worked outside of the hospital. Funny enough I ended up working as a nurse in the hospital.
Q: Tell me about Unit 21?
A: It’s an adult inpatient psychiatric unit. We tend to get the more acutely ill patients just because we have the capacity to take them. Patients are under the primary care of a psychiatrist. Care planning is primarily focused on managing behaviour. The high observation rooms are for individuals that cannot co-habitate. We trial them on unit and are hopeful for a successful reintegration. A trusting relationship between patients and staff is vital.
Q: What do you like most about where you work?
A: I love hearing people’s stories. My job is to sit with them and get to know them. In medicine I rarely had the time. You establish a relationship with your patients. I’ve always loved mental health. I just found it super interesting. The skills I’ve gained from mental health are phenomenal. The environment I work in is fantastic. I feel supported by my management team. I can approach them with questions or concerns at any time. I like going to work.
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: I do Capoeira. Capoeira comes from Brazil and it’s a great close-knit community. When I moved to Calgary I didn’t know anyone. I wanted to try something new to get in shape. I just turned up to a class one day and fell in love with it. I just went to a Capoeira event in Hong Kong last year. I don’t compete but I do participate in seminars. They bring instructors in from all over the world.
Q: Why is the union important to you?
A: The union provides us with a sense of protection. It’s nice to know I have a place to go if something isn’t right or if I have a concern about a patient, mismanagement, or bad practices. The union is our advocate and protects our wages and our jobs. Without them who’s to say someone wouldn’t try to have us replaced.
For more on this Member Spotlight please check out our UNA Local 115 Newsletter.