At the age of 19, some incredible nurses, orderlies and interns taught me to do much of what is conventional nursing practice. Over 3 summers as a summer student, I honed skills that I did not know I had nor could I imagine developing. Procedurally, I removed stitches and clamps after surgery, prepared patients for surgery, replaced dressings, inserted and replaced foley catheters, helped with application of casts under the careful tutelage of great doctors, did bowel care, helped with patient mobilization, went on the ambulance to retrieve people in distress either heart attacks, strokes, or motor vehicle accidents. The list included all the basics of toileting, bathing, preparing for surgery, and more. As a bonus, I got to work in the morgue as well, honing some other skills.
When employed for a fourth summer in another hospital in another province, I gave total care, except for drugs, to a person who was palliative then got assigned total care for others later on. Never, for a minute, did I think this was work restricted to females. As a matter of fact, I got much job satisfaction in seeing things done well, patient’s needs met, doctors and nurses happy with my care, and families who thanked me for caring for their loved one.
But I did not go into nursing full time (often to my regret) because I got fascinated with the organization and management of hospitals. I should have followed the attraction to nursing and may have been able to stay in one place rather than the nomadic life of a hospital CEO!
Medicine used to be the purview, for the most part, of men. Seeing women in medicine years ago was a novelty. Then women decided to change that and now the profession seems equally distributed between men and women to the credit of women and for the benefit of the profession and patients.
Women have done remarkably well at breaking barriers in so many other professions including law, engineering, semi-transport driving, and more. But in nursing, the reverse is true. The profession has, now, unprecedented issues with retirements, people leaving, insufficient numbers of graduates to fill positions and with the many issues, it is time to explore avenues not yet tapped. Simply adding training slots to nursing programs, in itself, is a band aid. Whoever is directing strategy on this major health and long-term care issue, if there is a strategy, it does not seem clear to anyone with whom I have spoken in the last few years.
Richard Blaquiere, a school teacher from Woodstock, now living in Riverview, has two nurses in his family. He sees how they enjoy their careers and that they, in the process, earn a good income with great benefits (although not, by any means, the best in Canada) and wonders why is nursing not promoted as a wonderful career more strongly amongst men? Why do so many men, when thinking careers, shy away?
A nurse and role model of what a great nurse should be is Trevor Hamilton! Trevor and Kim settled in Nashwaaksis where he coaches softball with enthusiasm. He has worked for nearly 30 years on the nursing staff at York Care Centre. Watching him in action, you see a cool but caring demeanor enabling him to work with vulnerable seniors for long hours then go home, satisfied that he has made a difference in the lives of residents and their families. He also has the satisfaction of knowing that in the way he carries out his duties he is an inspiration to student nurses who rotate through for their practicum and to other staff with whom he interacts every day.
His career started when he worked at Camp Rotary with kids with disabilities that sparked his interest in nursing! In his work, he always has a joke or a special handshake or some other friendly banter to lighten
Trevor Hamilton is a seasoned nurse well into his career. He has made a huge impact on hundreds of families and their loved ones as he has chosen to employ his skills in the care of vulnerable adults at York Care Centre. That facility has emerged as a beacon of excellence in long term care, developing a strong and positive reputation for caring since the days of its origin back in the 1960’s. Trevor is a nurse with the right attitudes and compassion that enables him to not only give terrific care but, as well, to put the minds of families at ease.
And around the halls of the buildings, he is known for his positive attitude, always a big smile and word of encouragement to fellow staff and administrators! A role model in all that implies. Trevor recommends nursing as a career that provides great job satisfaction combined with professional status and good income and benefits.
Then I turn to Khoury Fraser! Khoury is a wonderful young man, talented with guitar and vocals and fairly newly married to Shannon Fraser. Khoury could have been an engineer, a lawyer, perhaps an entertainer with his musical talent. Instead, he applied to the UNB Nursing Program, was accepted, and graduated, commencing work this week as a nurse at the DECRH. He will soon write the NCLEX exams to qualify as an R.N.
He sees “so many areas of nursing and endless possibilities for a career in a variety of disciplines.” He particularly enjoyed Emergency Department nursing and looks forward to being able to employ his skills in a variety of areas, perhaps commencing with assignment in a medical or surgical unit.
But it has not been a cake-walk. Khoury says “I have worked the hardest I have ever worked during these last four years.” He goes on to say that from what he has already learned, it is a career which presents different challenges and circumstances every day. Based on his clinical experiences he says: “I get to leave work every day knowing that I have made a positive impact on someone.” Lots of professions will give that satisfaction, but when you are dealing with people with physical or mental challenges, that is a different sense of satisfaction.
My prediction is that he will make a real difference in the profession because he has, by nature, a kind spirit and concern for the well-being of people. He said that he chose nursing because he wanted a career in which he could interact with people every day and make a contribution to their lives.
In choosing a career, it is so important to focus not only on the compensation, although that is so important when raising a family, but work in which you end your shift quite tired but enormously satisfied that your work really matters to a whole lot of people.
How do we get this noble profession, that is in distress at so many levels, to see that it needs a much broader marketing strategy in order to attract students to become educated as nurses? With 93% of the profession in New Brunswick women, it is as tough for men to cross the barrier as it was for women in Medicine. But cross the barrier we must! As with every profession, it will grow and flourish as the balance is developed and the environment is welcoming to both men and women.
And Richard Blaqueire will retire a happy man, happy that his passion of seeing gender balance in nursing is developed as it has been in teaching, medicine, engineering, computer science and others. Patients, the public, and the profession will be grateful.
Ken McGeorge,BS,DHA,CHE is a retired career health care CEO, part time consultant, and columnist with Brunswick News; he is the author of Health Care Reform in New Brunswick and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.kenmcgeorge.com
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Ken McGeorge, BS,DHA,CHE is a career health care executive based in Fredericton, NB, Canada.