Stories from young people in the medical field whose journeys teach us one thing. The path you travel will not be linear but it will be very interesting.
Well, what can I say, my health care journey has been interesting and very valuable. I am currently a RN and working as a Clinical Practice Educator for a specific population of people. I assist external agencies in managing medical complexities of particular clients in the community. My job is to teach skills, facilitate education sessions, liaise and advise within multifaceted medical, legal, and social support networks. Within my role, I am expected to work with a high level of medical autonomy and I take great pride in this. This position requires constant education and knowledge building and resource seeking. I need to be able to assess and apply knowledge from a variety of perspective beyond my own. Keeping the goal of people first (client centered) and medical issues second is the forefront of my practice.
Prior to this I worked, in a variety of other nursing roles such as Care Management, Community Integrated Care Coordinator (Leadership), Acute Care in a variety of roles and units, as well as Palliative. I really enjoy Nursing Leadership and will continue on that professional pathway at some point. In the meantime, I will be starting my Masters of Nursing Leadership with an Aboriginal focus in the near future.
Fun fact! I also really like studying Nursing Informatics-systems of how to deliver better patient/client outcomes. Nursing is diverse, it is exciting, and there are opportunities. How you get there and when is a journey in itself.
Health care and life in general never take you where you think you will go. The plan will change and you will adapt. You will find new passions and become enlightened or disheartened and even discouraged at times. As long as you show up every day, you will get there.
It’s ok to change paths, change the pace, and how you feel about something in particular. I originally never wanted to work in health care because I do not like IV’s (they still make my stomach turn) and really, really did not foresee myself managing other peoples’ bodily functions. I started my journey interesting enough, working with children and indirectly became exposed to health care systems I never perceived before (Granted I was only 20 years old at the time!). One of the family members I was working with became Palliative and I worked and learned alongside through their journey. I then moved on to other children’s social programs and some group homes. I met amazing caregivers from Nurses, parents, coaches, Social Workers, Speech Language and Dietary, as well as Physiotherapists. I fell in love with this new found concept of care and from there on became determined to create space for better and a more accessible means to quality of life, especially for those with barrier upon barrier upon them.
Ironically, I have now come full circle and am in the same role as a Nurse I admired (15+ years ago). Her name was Carol. I lost sight of that role over my own journeys-but here I am and I never imagined that. Over the years, I worked as a Care Aid, Therapy Assistant, Social Worker Programs Officer (child protection), LPN and RN. I have studied American Sign Language and Interpretation, Nursing, First Nations Literature, Psychology, Kinesiology, Forestry, Geography and GIS, Social Work and a plethora of other studies. Your education becomes your journey. Your mentors, coaches (THANKS RON!!) become your journey. Your friends and family become your journey.
You take that journey.
Clinical Practice Educator - Interior Health
I started in 2016 with the very well-defined goal of a 4-year undergrad in Kinesiology and then moving straight into a Masters in Physiotherapy. I had that goal for about 2 years before enrolling and starting my degree, so I was very excited to get started. My first trip up was taking a heavy course load in my first year and earning a relatively low GPA. The kinesiology program at my school (UVic), has a grade requirement for your first year to earn acceptance into the program. Needless to say, my first time around I did not meet this requirement. So, going into my second year, I was already doubting that the Physio route would be feasible for me. I tried to shake it off by planning an easier course load for the following school year so I could ensure a better GPA and get into the program. During this “easy” year, I took a course on Motor Learning taught by a professor who is now my PI. He made an offer early in the semester for any student who was interested to volunteer in his lab as a research assistant, which I applied for ONLY to boost my resume. I knew that he studied neuroscience, and at the time neuroscience was probably my least favourite part of the body to study.
I started as a volunteer research assistant and just wanted to gain some lab experience, learn some new skills, and use it as a boost for when I applied to physio school a few years down the line. I recall a specific conversation with my now coworker (who was then training me), who asked me if I was interested in learning more about the brain to which I replied “Not at all!”. It did not take long for that to change. As I spent more time in the lab, I gained a lot of interest in the type of work involved in research. Specifically, I found the data analysis methods that I learned to be very interesting and made me feel like I was on the cutting edge of science. I realized that was a feeling I really wanted to chase: keeping up with everything new in science and actually contributing to it. I also learned that to work towards that, I needed to put in a lot of time outside of my mandatory volunteer time to learn the methods, work with more graduate students, explore new areas of research etc. The more time I spent doing this, the more I was learning how much I loved neuroscience. As one extracurricular project turned into an analysis tutorial, which turned into independent data collection, which turned into a research job, which turned into a Masters degree. So, for the last 2.5 years of my undergrad, I was really doing kinesiology by day but neuroscience by night. Every semester that passed I seemed to move away from a career in physio towards a career in neuroscience.
Before this all happened, despite my deadest career goals, I was not resistant to the idea of changing my mind on those goals. What I changed my mind on was how I would reach that point. Whereas I previously thought that people who underwent drastic career changes did so with equally drastic timing, I learned that a slow progression from area A to area B is more common. Many of my colleagues had similar experiences, where they started in neuroscience in conjunction with whatever other degree that they were working on (ex. Computer science, animal biology, etc.). As such, the advice I give to newer students who are not sure about changing their career/degree is to not make any decisions until you can actually spend at least a semester working in the field on the side.
On the flip side, even if you’re sure about your path, it never hurts to try a completely different thing on the side. It is a lot to ask of a university student with an already busy schedule, but it can be life changing.
I am happy to provide any more information that could be helpful!