BY: ALLISON BROWN
Many years ago, I decided to become a nurse because I liked people and I wanted to help them. So, nursing was a career choice that allowed me to do both. I attended nursing school and at that time a diploma was the standard back in 1989. When I graduated, it was then that the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario-the professional body of which I am a member, announced that by 2005 in order to become a nurse one would require a degree.
The course itself was quite rigorous, I studied long hours into the night and had to get up very early the next day to go to clinical (a placement in a hospital or nursing home where you practiced under the supervision of your instructor) socialized very little, and had to move away from home. I remember when I had completed my nursing studies, we had a consolidation period where it was an opportunity to work as a nurse until we wrote our licensing exam. On my first night shift at the age of twenty, I experienced the death of a patient. My preceptor (practicing nurse, who supervised all my duties) was an amazing nurse from England –she was tough, but because of her standards and excellence in nursing practice, I am who I am today. The experience was challenging but it made me resilient.
Once I graduated from nursing, I obtained my first job as a registered nurse on a neurological unit. It was typical back then to get hired on the unit that you completed your clinical placement on. This was a unit where the patients suffered from strokes, brain injury, and other illnesses. Again, this experience taught me how to organize myself, and to work with others through inter-professional collaboration, and most of all how to navigate the world of work.
Since having graduated those many years ago, I have had many front-line nursing positions in many areas. I worked in adult medicine where I cared for adults with multiple heath challenges. I then moved on to the emergency department where I had the opportunity to team lead after two years. I loved emergency nursing but it was extremely stressful. So, kudos to all of the emergency nurses out there. You are well respected and admired.
After five years in the hospital around 1992-1993, we had a massive layoff of nurses in the province of Ontario. Many of our nurses left the province and went to the United States. I stayed and worked part-time and eventually went back to school part-time and completed my post-RN BScN degree. That was not easy either, I had three small children and the support of my husband and parents who would babysit my kids while I went to write my exams. My degree was all through distance education. I would call the University for my lectures and I would mail in any project work. That was an interesting experience that taught me to never give up on my dreams.
I went on to work in the community, I’ve taught numerous nursing and Personal Support Worker students, and I currently work as an educator in a community agency. My career has been long with diverse experiences. One of the highlights of my career was winning a Clinical Nursing Excellence Award and was nominated for the Nightingale Nursing Award sponsored by the Toronto Star every May. I believe the experiences that I have has made me the person I am today. I contributed to society by serving others which is something that I am most proud of.
There is a saying, “…where you start does not dictate where you end up.” Being a writer for The Toronto Caribbean Newspaper affords me the opportunity to share information about health issues with the community-an opportunity that I am very proud of.
This article is dedicated to those people that have helped me to get here.
Thank-you to: Carlton and Helen Nicholas, Ezra, Andrew, Christopher, and Theresa Brown.