During my undergraduate nursing degree, many of my colleagues were passionate about working with children or pursuing the excitement of the emergency department. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure where I saw myself working when I graduated but luckily, I found the perfect spot. I work in Specialized Geriatric Services on a rehabilitation unit. Like all nursing specialties, it can be challenging and hard work at times but it is also extremely rewarding to be part of the healing journey. Going to work still makes me feel like I won the lottery! I get to help people who are mostly amazing and I get paid for it? How lucky can a girl get?
When I think about it now, it seems obvious that I work in geriatrics. In my past life as a personal trainer I helped run a cardiac rehab program, taught fitness and aquafit classes for seniors, and worked with many older clients. I grew up in Nova Scotia which is pretty traditional in a lot of ways and I think that has also had a profound influence on me. I enjoy reading, gardening, and quilting (among other things), and I cringe at the thought of living in a fast-paced city like Toronto or having to drive more than 15 minute to work.
Seniors have perspective, life experience, and many also have wisdom. Some are full of colourful stories. Seniors tend to value people and experiences more than material wealth (to be fair, I also have a lot of young friends who share these values). Many of them appreciate a good conversation or a listening ear; they live in the real world, not the mind-bubble of their smart-phone. To be sure, there are grumpy old people and some who are not doing so hot (just like any other age group), but generally I find older adults to be kind, sincere, and appreciative.
I think that all nursing programs should have a core course devoted to seniors. Not only are they wonderful people to work with but their physiology is different (e.g. responses to medications are different than healthy young adults which drugs are tested on) and they face unique psycho-social challenges that younger people don’t think about like losing your independence and living on a fixed income. I learned a lot about aging during my kinesiology degree but I am really keen to further my expertise in this area and recruit more nurses to this wonderful area of nursing practice!
Wishing you a Happy Canada Day!