Health Sciences

Health Sciences


2nd Year Nursing Students at Lighthouse Mission

October 3, 2019

L-R: Casey, Ana, Mallory, Pooya, Lyn, Tonya, and Ashley – with Beverly (Operations Manager)

Every five weeks a new group of nursing students begin their Older Adult Community Clinical rotation. Students participated in a number of clinical activities from holding public education events, to running blood pressure clinics, to collaborating with community partners like Lighthouse Mission. Last Thursday we had the opportunity to learn about and address a few social determinants of health – including homelessness and poverty.

This group of caring students also chose to bring some emergency food hamper items that were desperately needed. We then made our way to the kitchen and “floor” to serve some hearty soup and sandwiches… and take blood pressures! Students recognized the power of eye-contact and smiles as powerful nursing skills to use with a population of people who often go ignored or unnoticed.

Beverly shared more pictures from that afternoon on the Lighthouse Mission Facebook page.

Post written by Tanya Cole RN BScN – RRC Clinical Nursing Instructor

My Pinning Ceremony

September 26, 2019

Earlier this month, the Nursing Department celebrated our most recent graduates at the 2019 Pinning Ceremony.

Nursing instructor and chair of the Pinning Ceremony Committee, Bernie Mandrick, reflects back on her memories of her own Pinning Ceremony:

When did you graduate from nursing and from which program?

I graduated from the Baccalaureate program at the University of Manitoba in 1986 (If you are doing the math that was 33 years ago yikes!)

What did receiving your pin mean to you?

Receiving my pin meant the culmination of a lot of hard work and the celebration of the friendships and learning our class did.

What parts of the Pinning Ceremony do you best remember?

I remember being so excited to see my peers. We had been separated by our choices of Senior Practice sites and catching up with them before the start of the ceremony was fabulous. We wore blue graduation robes. I wore dove grey shoes (my favorite shoes of all time!) and carried 4 roses (one for each year of the program) in the processional. I also remember that we had organized a graduate’s choir and we sang a song as part of the ceremony. I clearly recall the pride I had when Dr. Larsen the Dean of Nursing pinned the pin to my gown. Sharing that moment with my family was profound and I truly felt I had made it!

Do you feel you own Pinning has an impact on your involvement with our program’s Pinning Ceremony. How?

I loved the tradition behind the Pinning Ceremony; it was intimate and so focused on the graduates as the nurse. I felt it was my “rite of passage”. Pinning is much more specific to nursing. It is a smaller celebration (I’m talking number of graduates here) than convocation and every person on the stage knew our names and had a relationship with us. I felt the support and pride our faculty had in us. My Pinning Ceremony was important to me; the memories remain with me (even 33 years later) and I want those same memories for my students. It was a natural fit for me to be involved in planning the Pinning Ceremony for the BN graduates from Red River.

Any words of wisdom that you would like future nurses to know about nursing traditions such as the Pinning Ceremony?

You might have just begun your nursing journey in the BN program and maybe it feels like a daunting task right now; however, it will come to an end. Pinning is a time to celebrate the conclusion of this stage of your nursing journey. At Pinning you can reconnect with your cohort before you all begin working shifts, weekends, holidays etc… Pinning is also a celebration for those who have supported you. It is a time for family and friends to show you their pride. It is an opportunity for your support people to meet your instructors (some of whom you spent more time with than your family during the program!). Pins represent your school of nursing and symbols on the Red River College Pin were thoughtfully chosen and designed by previous graduates who had similar experiences to yours in the BN program here. Receiving your pin is your official welcome into the profession. Your faculty is always thrilled to share this day with you. If you want to know more about the RRC pin or the traditions of the RRC Pinning Ceremony, don’t hesitate to email me!

Post written by Bernie Mandrick – Nursing Instructor / Chair – Pinning Ceremony Committee
Questions created by Corrina Zacharkiw – Nursing Instructor

Pinning Ceremony 2019

September 19, 2019


It’s been a long road that at times you probably thought would never come, but you did it!  Congratulations to each and every one of you.  A night well deserved and a standing ovation is the least we can do to show how honored we are in your achievement.  We know the sacrifices and all the hard work that went into your Bachelor of Nursing journey here at Red River College.

Congratulations to Chris Hofer for winning the ARNM gold medal presented by Loreley Fehr, President-Elect, Association of Registered Nurses of Manitoba.

Thank you to all the Pinning Ceremony Committee members for a great night!

Thank you to Darin Brecht, Acting President and CEO of Red River College; RaeAnn Thibeault; Dean of School of Health Sciences and Community Services; Patrick Griffith, Chair of Nursing; and Cindy Boughen, BN Program Coordinator for your words of wisdom!

Thank you to Natasha Kuchta; the 2018 Gold Medal Recipient for your words welcoming our grads of 2019 to our profession of Nursing!

Thank you Sarah Alcock for your graduate Address, and yes you’ll finally see a paycheck!

Thank you Soul Sanctuary for hosting our 2019 Bachelor of Nursing Pinning Ceremony!

Written by:

Jennifer Johnson

Nursing Lab Manager


Where Are You Now: Chantelle

September 12, 2019

Chantelle shares her experience and insight since graduating from the BN program in 2018:

Where are you now?

General Duty Nurse on the Women’s Health Relief Team at Women’s Hospital. Being part of the relief team gives me the opportunity to learn and care for patients ranging from perinatal, gynecology, post-partum, labor and delivery, post-surgical gynecology, oncology and everything in between. I absolutely love it.

How easy was it to find a job after graduation?

I was offered a position while still a nursing student doing my senior practicum.

How did you manage the responsibility of going from student to nurse?

It was quite intimidating to be honest. I didn’t think of what that would be like as a student. Once I was transitioned from student to nurse, I felt very well supported by other nurses. I felt comfortable to ask questions and had guidance. Many of the nurses I was familiar with as I had met them and worked with them through my senior practicum or had graduated with them.

How did you build your confidence as a new nurse?

I asked questions. Lots and lots of questions. At first, I thought it made me seem incompetent but a fellow nurse explained that I should NEVER feel that I couldn’t ask questions. It was a little difficult at first to ask questions but once I did, it became easier for me. It also helped me build my confidence and my independence.

Thinking back, what were the most important lessons from school that you took into the workforce?

Of course time management and prioritizing is important, but most of all.. SELF CARE!

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were a student?

The workplace environment is forever changing and things can get very hectic and change in a matter of seconds and you need to be able to turn on your thinking cap quickly and adjust your care accordingly. You will always have other nurses and staff members there to help you. You need to find your voice and be confident. As a student, I thought about the scary things that can happen and I thought all the pressure would be on me but that’s not the case at all. You’re part of a team and you will learn to trust each other’s expertise and learn as you go. It’s honestly an ongoing learning experience.

What piece of advice would you give to current students?

Please ask for help when you need it, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and your patients, make sure you set time aside for self care, and remember that mistakes can and do happen, and that’s okay ! Its not “win or lose” .. think of it as “win or learn.”

Thank you Chantelle for sharing your experience and words of wisdom!

Step Out of Your Box: Winners for 2019

September 5, 2019

Each year, the Step Out of Your Box (SOYB) committee reviews the application pieces and selects four students to receive one of the four awards of $500 each.

SOYB program gives students the opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge in our community while enhancing their interpersonal, communication, critical thinking, and leadership skills.

Students who participate in this program explore a dimension of diversity that is different from themselves by volunteering at a community organization. After seven hours (minimum), they create a “leave-behind” project that showcases their abilities and benefits a local volunteer organization. As part of their reflection document, students describe what they did, how this experience impacted them, and how they will carry this experience forward in their personal and professional lives.

This year, four Nursing students were selected to receive the awards:

L to R: Mallory, Cassie, Thi
Not Pictured: Danielle

Thi Nguyen:
Volunteer Organization: Main Street Project: Men’s Detoxification and Stabilization Unit
Dimension(s) of Focus: Males and addictions
Leave-Behind project: Halloween themed Bingo night

Thi’s concluding Thoughts:
It helped me stand out my comfort zone to open with others; especially men…. Challenging myself is necessary to be successful. Volunteering at Men’s detox helped me gain my experiences when contacting with men. I saw how staff communicated and treated to men. I saw different angles of the way of thinking, how they expressed their emotion, feeling and their goals of life. The most important thing is I can overcome my fear while being among men. I was able to play cards with them comfortably. My heart was melted and touched after listening to their stories. Being among men gave me an opportunity to understand more about myself. I received immense support from staff and a volunteer coordinator, and although I was shy at first, I quickly learned that people were there to help me in any way they could. Diversity is greatly valued and each individual has a voice. I have consistently felt that my ideas were valued and credited; in the long term, this has helped me build confidence.

Mallory Shewfelt:
Volunteer Organization: Main Street Project: Men’s Detoxification and Stabilization Unit
Dimension(s) of Focus: Males and addictions
Leave-Behind project: Halloween themed Bingo night

Mallory’s concluding thoughts:
I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and try to gain new perspective for people facing addiction, many homeless who live on the streets of Winnipeg…This experience will greatly impact my practice as a future nurse. I will no longer see people who are homeless as lazy addicts who would rather spend their time asking for money rather than going to find a job. Now what I will see is people who have had some difficult life experiences, many dealing with painful trauma and struggle with the disease of addiction….I now believe there is no difference in emotional ability for either female or males. I will use the same therapeutic communication techniques regardless of sex or gender. This experience has also sparked my interest in possibly wanting to help individuals who struggle with addiction as a registered nurse. For the time being, I plan to still volunteer at Main Street Project while I finish my Bachelor’s degree of nursing, which is not something I anticipated prior to the Step Out of Your Box Program.

Prizes from Bingo Night

Danielle Rasmussen:
Volunteer Organization: Sunshine House
Dimension(s) of Focus: Transgender community
Leave-Behind project: Family Christmas party

Danielle’s concluding thoughts:
Before this experience I would just try to ignore or avoid the fact that someone was transgender in hopes to avoid offending anyone if I had said the wrong thing. This experience has taught me that it is okay to ask questions if I am confused or unsure of something. Clarification is better than making assumptions about someone. After talking to this individual, I was able to feel comfortable socializing with some of the other people visiting the drop-in center… As a nurse I can reflect on this experience remembering the struggles that someone who is transitioning goes through, so that I can be compassionate to their feelings and have empathy for them in the process…

Having a culturally sensitive and diverse nursing workforce allows patients to seek help with their health issues without the fear of being judged or rejected. It is a common human feeling that when we think someone will be judging us we often want to tweak our stories so that they don’t sound as bad. I believe that in order for this to happen, though, it needs to be a team effort with all of the medical staff. When all the staff are working together on the same team caring for patients, patient care will go much more smoothly.

Cassie Oliver:
Volunteer Organization: Sunshine House
Dimension(s) of Focus: Transgender and non-binary persons
Leave-Behind project: Family Christmas party

Cassie’s concluding thoughts:
Originally, my lack of experience and understanding of transgender individuals led to negative views, but now I realize that it does not matter how people identify. It does not affect me personally. I learned that, as I am not transgender or non-binary, it would be difficult to understand the struggles that transgender people face, however, that does not mean I need to add to the struggles. I am accepting of all individuals regardless of my understanding of their background and circumstances now….Prior to this experience I was also afraid of misgendering someone, however it was quite easy to avoid. When faced with someone who was of ambiguous gender, I used the person’s name, until they self-identified as trans. I learned it’s a lot easier than I thought it would be, and most people are quite forgiving if you make an honest effort.

The healthcare system can be invalidating and traumatic for these people, and nurses should work to minimize the harm done. This can be done by advocating for the patient, making sure they are addressed by their preferred name, pronouns and gender.

I have realized that nonbinary individuals struggle immensely with the healthcare system, through my conversations at Sunshine House and do not want to contribute to this. After hearing the stories of misgendering, and how traumatic it is to be faced with the biologic sex identifiers, as well as having health professionals address them as their sex at birth, I think advocacy will also be important. It is important that the nursing workforce is sensitive to culture and is diverse to meet patient needs as no two patients are alike. As nurses, we serve patients across all cultures, genders, and sexual orientations. We must be aware of cultural and social differences to treat the patient holistically. …Validating and accepting patients for who they wish to be is an important aspect in holistic care.

Christmas Party

Congratulations to all the students who participated in this program! Your contributions to these community organizations are immeasurable.

Instructors – If you’re looking for an alternative to the research paper or test, want to add new insights and dimensions to class discussions, reduce stereotypes, and facilitate cultural and racial understanding, consider incorporating this program into your course. For more information, contact the Mentorship Program Coordinator at or 204.632.3847 or visit

Post written by Vera Godavari – Mentorship Program Coordinator

Welcome to Nursing

August 29, 2019

When you prepare to venture into the world of nursing, it is not uncommon to feel mixed emotions. As you begin this new adventure, it is important to realize that you are not alone. Each of us seasoned nurses who consider ourselves lucky to be a part of the process of your nursing education would like you to know that we all started somewhere. It is for that reason that I felt compelled to share my first day story.

As a newly graduated nurse in 1996, I was pleased to accept a new position on the Bone Marrow Transplant department at HSC. I arrived for my first independent shift as a nurse after receiving two weeks of intensive orientation. Nervous did not even begin to describe how I felt. I came onto the unit about 45 minutes early, wrote out my assignment, started to plan out my day, and saw that I had a student nurse assigned to one of my patients. When we met, she recognized me from the hallways of nursing school. The day only seemed to go downhill from there. The four patients assigned to me were all acutely ill. One was having seizures and required MRIs (the one with a student luckily, because she knew the patient better than I did), one needed to go for a lung biopsy (I needed to prep her for this, and I did not know where to begin). Both of these patients needed to leave the unit, and this required a lot of planning because they were neutropenic. Another needed platelets, and the last needed 2 units of blood. They all had central lines, each with about 3 IV lines with hourly ins and outs and multiple IV medications due each hour. By the end of the 12 hour shift, I was completely drained. I remember crying when I got home and thinking how am I going to do this? I went back the next day and it got better, not perfect but better.

This first day taught me a lot. It taught me to trust my colleagues, to ask for help, and to admit when I did not know something. I learned to listen to everyone. The student came to me about her assessment findings. The patients’ wife shared that she had been noticing the seizure activity for a while, but it had been dismissed so she thought it wasn’t important. It’s funny that I still remember that day with such clarity. I understood that I was a novice still learning, and needed to give myself a break. The key I believe to my continued success was resilience, a wonderful support network, and unwillingness to give up. That is what I want to say to you all. That I believe in you. I am still here for you because I understand to this day what it’s like to feel lost and overwhelmed. I also understand the rewards of sticking it out and living to tell my tale.

Post written by Corrina Zacharkiw RN MN

Student Nurse Researchers at Applied Research and Innovation Day

June 14, 2019

On May 30th, nursing students Samantha Eveleigh, Elyse Griffith, and Danielle Lewicki were among the researchers featured at the college-wide 2019 Applied Research and Innovation Day.

Samantha presented her research project Depression After Stroke while Elyse and Danielle presented their research project Student Nurse Bullying in the Clinical Area.

Samantha also won the People’s Choice Award and has since been featured on CBC radio! Listen to her interview below!


For more information on the winners of Applied Research and Innovation Day, check out this blog post from the RRC Research Partnerships and Innovation blog.

Congratulations to Samantha, Elyse, and Danielle!

Now let’s hear about this experience from our student researchers themselves!


Samantha Eveleigh – Student Nurse – Applied Research and Innovation Day Winner: People’s Choice Award

I find it hard to believe that I’m being recognized for my work on depression after stroke, because I already gained so much without the award. I strongly believe when students get the opportunity to participate in Applied Research and Innovation Day, there is so much growth that can happen. I gained confidence in both myself and my work. My experience was nothing but positive. I had so much fun talking, networking and meeting new people during the event. Of course I couldn’t have done it without the people around me, especially the nursing department. It’s hard to put into words how much the support of the nursing department means to me. It brings forward many emotions, but most importantly, a profuse sense of happiness. I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity. I will use this experience in my future nursing practice to help better outcomes for my patients and their families.

Elyse Griffith and Danielle Lewicki – Student Nurses – Applied Research and Innovation Day Participants

Danielle and I were thrilled to be a part of Research and Innovation Day at Red River College. We are extremely passionate about the topic of Student Nurse Bullying, and were honored to stand next to the talented student researchers of our college. By talking about the prevalence of bullying, we hope our presentation will encourage students to recognize that they are not alone and there are resources at the college that can help validate their experiences and guide them towards healing. We hope that our presentation will spark the interest of the nursing faculty, and all faculties, so Red River College can work towards building the best learning and professional environment.

Post written by Samantha Eveleigh, Elyse Griffith, Danielle Lewicki (Student Nurses), and Meagen Chorney (Nursing Instructor)

Photo of Samantha by Dale Coulombe
Photo of Elyse and Danielle by Lee Jones

Older Adult Community Clinical Volunteer Experience

June 13, 2019

This spring, second year Red River College nursing students had the opportunity to really connect with older adult groups within the Transcona area. In their Health Promotion of the Older Adult Community clinical rotation, student groups interviewed members of the community, gathering info and learning to assess strengths and resources for the older adult. The group were working with staff and tenants of Devonshire House 2, an assisted living facility. They held a blood pressure clinic, wellness clinic, and a public education event.

The student group also learned the finer aspects of BINGO at the Transcona Retired Citizens Organization at 328 Whittier Ave. Students were grateful for the experience of talking with the group, and seeing how the spirit of volunteerism contributes to the overall well being of the older adult population in the community.

The Transcona Retired Citizens Organization has a variety of programs and activities:

They offer
* meals (soup/sandwiches)
* crafts
* line dancing
* Scottish dancing
* Tai-chi classes
* Zoomba exercises
* card games
* bingo
* snooker
* darts
* shuffleboard
* social activities
* bus tours for members and seniors in the community
* referral foot care services

They also hosts clinics on:

* wills
* taxes
* computers
* driving
* counselling

For more information, check out their website.

The students had a wonderful experience, working with an amazing group of older adults.

Post written by Tracey McCulloch
Photos by Tracey McCulloch

1st Year RRC Nursing Students Exposing the Silent Killer

June 6, 2019

Did you know that high blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease?

Well on May 15, 2019 our 1st year RRC nursing students sure knew this and wanted to help out their fellow community members here at RRC by hosting a walk-in blood pressure (BP) and pulse (P) checks service. The nursing students did an excellent job, under the supervision of an R.N., of obtaining blood pressure results.

It was wonderful to see that so many people here at RRC took the opportunity and came out to find out what their BP & P readings were. High blood pressure is another name for Hypertension. People often refer to it as the silent killer as someone can have high blood pressure and be asymptomatic.

According to the heart and stroke foundation of Canada (2018):

• High blood pressure is when the blood pressure in your arteries is elevated and your heart has to work harder than normal to pump blood through the blood vessels.

• Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure or force of blood against the walls of your blood vessels (known as arteries). Your blood pressure reading is based on two measures called systolic and diastolic. The systolic (top) number is the measure of the pressure force when your heart contracts and pushes out the blood. The diastolic (bottom) number is the measure of when your heart relaxes between beats.

The table below defines varying blood pressure categories: low risk, medium risk, high risk. See your doctor, healthcare provider, or the 1st year RRC nursing students to get a proper blood pressure measurement.


Category: Systolic/Diastolic (top number/bottom number)
Low risk: 120 / 80
Medium risk: 121-139 / 80 – 89
High risk: 140+ / 90

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Blog written by Stacy Kutcher with information taken from the Heart and Stroke foundation of Canada (2018) website.

Pictures taken by Stacy Kutcher.

Where Are They Now: Derek

May 30, 2019

I have to say, unlike many graduates, I had a great job before becoming a nurse. I was a mailman. BEST. JOB. EVER. But I wasn’t exactly challenged (dogs notwithstanding) and winters are long. So at 38 I went part time at the post office and started at RRC full time. I graduated in three years after doing my practicum in the ER at St. Boniface. Very cool, very intense. Not for me. I took every instructors’ advice ever and took a position in medicine as a float. I was told I would “build up a good base” and I was told true. In acute medicine you learn ALL the things, I kid you not. But I missed being a mailman and the heart wants what it wants. So when I learned about a nursing job where I get to go outside and wear a bag on my shoulder I jumped to it.

Homecare nurse for the WRHA. Your patients aren’t acutely ill enough for hospital care but need a nurse nonetheless. I got a position in the downtown core and was told/warned that there is “no life like it” (or maybe that was when I joined the army?) and that was accurate. Meeting patients and really getting to know them over the year and a half I worked in the core was memorable to say the least. Most often you do wound care or chronic illness management, but it’s a real mixed bag.

When I started, my new boss said “It’s less technical than the hospital but I swear it’s one of the only nursing jobs you work to the full scope of your practice.” He did not exaggerate. Psych, social, physical, spiritual and on and on. You can’t just poke your head out into the hall and ask “Doc, wanna take a look at this?” You’re the guy (or gal) getting stuff done all by your lonesome and the patient sometimes only has the homecare nurse to rely on. No family, no GP, no nothing.

I most recently switched to the community IV program. It’s part of the same WRHA program but specializes in people who need IV care/medications and wound care. I spend some shifts in the clinic and some in the community, nice balance and I can stay indoors when it’s -30.

What I’d like to say to students that might be helpful is that waaay to often you will see nurses who stay in a job long after they have decided they hate it. Bad for mental health, bad for patients. Find a better fit! Start today! Some nurses LOVE jobs that won’t be for you and you may love a job that other nurses think you’re crazy to love. One of the best things about your new career is that you can do anything you want in virtually any place on Earth, why settle?!

Post written by Derek – CIVP RN – RRC Graduate 2016