Why I am still in school…

For my first post, I thought I would share with you a little bit about what inspired me to pursue a career in nursing and academics.  

My career journey hasn’t exactly been straight forward.  When I was five years old I dreamed of being an author when I grew up.  My friend Meaghan and I would make up stories in little handmade notebooks and her father would type them up on his fancy typewriter, handing us back our “published” stories on crisp white paper.  Then we would make the illustrations by hand and use construction paper to make front and back covers. Oh how I loved making up stories!  

I was by all accounts a very shy, introverted child and spent most of my time reading.  Thankfully this has served me well in graduate school, as I have become quite a fast reader because I’ve done so much of it.  At any rate, I have always enjoyed the world of ideas and learning new things.  I am not the brightest star in the sky by any means, but I do tend to approach life with curiosity and lots of questions.  

As a naive 18-year-old from a small town in Nova Scotia I came to Western to study English literature.  Although I adored studying literature and writing, I wasn’t confident that I would be able to make it as a writer so I took a year off mid-way through and ended up at Acadia University where I completed a kinesiology degree.  It was here that one of my professors approached me to do an honours thesis project with him in exercise physiology.  I jumped at the chance and ended up creating a field test for athletes to assess fatigue and overtraining.  Through this experience I learned how to conduct research from start to finish and had so much fun doing it that I applied to do a master’s degree at Western, in hopes of doing my PhD.  

It is also worth mentioning that I had also applied to the University of Calgary’s accelerated nursing program and was accepted.  I remember telling my mom that I was thinking about becoming a nurse and then pursing a career in nursing research.  As it turns out I ended up doing this anyway but with an MSc in kinesiology and then a degree in nursing.  In the long run, I think this has served me well because I have such a rich background in health sciences to bring to bear on my work.  I have worked as a personal trainer and now work as a nurse on a geriatric rehabilitation unit which is the cat’s meow as far as I’m concerned!  I love working with older adults and the staff on my unit are so knowledgeable and supportive.   Some days I can’t believe that I get paid to do a job that I love so much.

I realize this is becoming a really long post, but I think it helps to get a bit of background on who I am and what inspires me to do the work that I am pursing.

My main motivation is that I care about about people and envision a society where people have the means to be healthy and happy, to experience friendship and community, and live good lives.  It saddens me that there is so much suffering, poverty, and disease in our own backyards and that people face so many barriers to being healthy and happy.  In particular, it doesn’t make sense to me that many of our health care providers are stressed out, unhealthy, and unhappy in their jobs.  We spend a tremendous amount of our life energy at work and it can have a huge impact on our mental and physical health.  How can we expect patients to be taken care of if we aren’t taking care of ourselves?  Thus, my research area of interest is examining how we can create healthy work environments that contribute to nurses’ health and wellbeing, as well as trying to understand how that affect outcomes for patients, health care organizations, and the health care system as a whole.

While I love my job as a nurse, I find research exciting and see the potential it has for creating new evidence to inform best practices and make our health care system better.  I hope that one day I can look back on my career and know that I made a valuable contribution with what I had to offer. I genuinely want to leave the world a better place for having had me in it. And that is why I have just completed my 12th year of university.

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