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Where Are You Now: Paige Procter

November 14, 2019

Paige shares her experience and insight since graduating from the BN program in 2017:

Where are you now?

I never expected to end up working in paediatrics. I thought I wanted “hard core nursing” (whatever that meant). However, after one clinical day at children’s hospital I knew I had found my home. I feel lucky, not everyone finds their niche right away and they have to entertain a few different positions before finding what is right for them. That is the beauty of nursing. We have a skill set that can allow us to work in a variety of settings, in varying roles, and we don’t have to stay in the same position forever if we don’t want to! The diversity of nursing has always appealed to me!

I currently work on CH5 a long-term/transitional/acute paedatric medicine ward where we see almost everything! It is challenging and I learn something new every day! I work with kids and their families from ages 1 day old to 17 years old. Our ward takes on children who have cystic fibrosis, eating disorders, traumatic brain injuries, and cerebral palsy, but we are equipped to take on whatever walks through emerge’s doors. Every day is a fun new challenge sprinkled with peppa pig stickers and popscicles. When I started nursing school I thought that peds was cute and fluffy but every day on CH5 proves me wrong. These kids are strong and resilient and as their nurses we have to be even stronger while keeping a smile on our faces and make them forget they are sick in a hospital even for a moment. That’s hardcore.

How easy was it to find a job after graduation?

I started applying for positions halfway through practicum and had secured a job in the child health float pool by the end of my practicum. I started in a term position and after 7 months I was in a permanent. I stayed in this position for a year and then took a term on CH5 and eventually took a permanent. I loved the float pool and I encourage any new nurse who is unsure of where they want to nurse to consider a position. You get to explore different areas and take care of populations you never expected. Through the float pool I learned that I did not care for NICU nursing and that I loved the challenging fast pace of acute mixed with long term patient continuity that I get to experience on CH5. The float pool definitely helped me become a more well rounded nurse and find a ward I wanted to call home.

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

Make friends with other nurses! I cannot stress this enough! Learn from your peers, learn from your seniors, learn from your mentors and educators. The transition from student to nurse is a lot less scary if you surround yourself with people you feel safe asking questions to and who will help you when you are feeling overwhelmed. I was pleasantly surprised at how willing nurses were to help because we hear horror stories of nurses eating their young. While I believe that this does still exist unfortunately I do believe that the culture is changing and I think that nurses are realizing by helping raise each other up we are all becoming stronger nurses and a more efficient team.

How did you build your confidence as a new nurse?

Again, through meeting other nurses who lift you up instead of tear you down! (see above)

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

In a nutshell, the best way to describe nursing is “nothing like what I expected”. When I started nursing school I thought I was doing it simply because I liked helping people, but I quickly learned that nursing is not only about heart. Nursing is a science, an art, a discipline, and a public service. Being nice is just a small sliver of the character, skill, leadership, and brainpower you need to develop and exercise in this profession. There were definitely many days in nursing school when I didn’t think I was cut out to be a nurse and even on my worst days as an RNBN I doubt myself. That is to be expected in a field that is forever growing and changing and I feel privileged to be able to learn from within it.

I completed my practicum on a pediatric unit. I loved my placement, but I had a very challenging practicum that tested me mentally and emotionally and I almost didn’t complete the program as a result. I had a difficult preceptor who expected more from me than I was capable of as a student; she intimidated me and made me feel unsure and incompetent. Fortunately, other nurses on the ward took note of what was going on and advocated for me on my behalf and encouraged me to speak with my practicum advisor. Ultimately our preceptorship ended and I was placed with 2 other preceptors who helped me rebuild my confidence and skill set and I graduated on time. I never regret the way my practicum journey played out; while I didn’t appreciate being bullied I learned valuable lessons that can’t be taught in school about managing conflict and maintaining professionalism. Practicum taught me that nursing is not black and white but a complicated web of technical and assessment skills and knowledge intertwined with teamwork, collaboration, personality differences, social inequities, and emotional burnout.

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

It’s okay to make mistakes; being unsuccessful on a proficiency test doesn’t mean you are incompetent! You are in school because you are not perfect and you are learning. The best advice I was ever given in school was that learning is uncomfortable and if you are not feeling queasy at least once on a daily basis then you are not going to get any better. You won’t learn from doing things right; you will learn from making mistakes and getting feedback. Feedback is your friend! Don’t take yourself so seriously!

What piece of advice would you give to current students?

1) Take every bad experience and learn from it! There is a lesson you can learn about yourself and about nursing in everything that you do!
2) Maintain your professionalism during conflict. It is easy to get hot headed and say mean things but you will gain more respect from staying professional.
3) You don’t need to be perfect in practicum and you don’t need to know everything. Your practicum is a safe place for you to learn prior to being on your own.
4) Where you do your practicum is not where you have to get a job after.
5) Make friends with unit clerks. They know the ward better than anyone else.
6) Advocate and stand up for yourself; just because you are a student doesn’t mean that you are always wrong.
7) Get involved with your professional bodies like ARNM while you are still a student. It will open doors.
8) Get your assignments done early! All nighters suck!
9) When you feel like you are alone remember there is always someone else going through the same thing. Reach out to your friends, teachers, coworkers; they have all probably been there before!
10) Nursing school goes by way too fast! Enjoy it while you can!

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

Nursing Faculty Member Wins Christine A. Tanner Scholarly Writing Award

November 7, 2019

The Christine A. Tanner award is an annual award given to the best major article submitted to the Journal of Nursing Education. Nursing department Research, Scholarship and Quality Assurance Coordinator, Kim Mitchell was the 2019 winner of this award for her article “Constructing Writing Practices in Nursing” published in the July 2018 issue of the journal. Kim’s article explores writing practices in nursing from the undergraduate to the professional level, which are influenced by the academicization of nursing education that accompanied the movement of nursing education from the hospital to the university environment. She proposes that writing assignments can be a mechanism to close the gap between theoretical nursing knowledge and practical knowledge. The paper introduces a socially constructed model of writing that identifies the domains of writing to include identity development, creative and emotional knowing, relational aspects, and context.

Kim’s research work, including this paper, are part of her doctoral studies exploring writing self-efficacy in nursing education. The model described in the award-winning paper has been used to develop a measurement tool for assessing writing self-efficacy and is currently being tested with undergraduate nursing students at Red River College, the University of Manitoba, and Brandon University. The Journal of Nursing Education has made Kim’s article publically available on their website for one year.

The Journal of Nursing Education is one of the leading high impact nursing education journals. Further information about the Christine A. Tanner Award and a link to Kim’s award-winning publication can be found here.

Is it a Full Moon?

October 31, 2019

The focus of this blog is in line with Halloween. I went around asking some of my colleagues about anything spooky they might have encountered as a nurse. As always, there were many comments about the “full moon.” Most nurses I know truly believe that a full moon can influence the behaviors of the patients they care for. Many of the nurses I spoke to stated that the full moon effect was involved in ER visits and random wanderings of their patients. Not sure if the next couple of stories are connected to the full moon.

One story an instructor told me that sent shivers down my spine involves the maternity unit at St. Boniface. The unit used to be a children’s unit and patients on the unit have reported seeing a small child wandering in and out of their rooms all night. This small child has only ever been seen by the patients on the unit.

Another story that I know of involves Riverview Health Centre where mysterious doctors orders appear in the charts at night. These orders are signed by the Head Doctor who had died many years past. And the museum in the Princess Elizabeth is often found with the lights turning on and off at night by the security staff.

Health Science Centre is also not immune to strange sightings. A nurse shared that she once saw a large man wearing full cowboy regalia washing his hands outside an isolation room. This man tipped his cowboy hat at the nurse and went into the room. The nurse looked down and the man was floating. The room was unoccupied. This nurse asked a more senior nurse she was working with about the appearance of the man. The senior nurse replied “Oh, that sounds exactly like Mr. ____. He passed away in that room several months ago.”

Other stories shared involve sightings of Sasquatches while driving on isolated highways. One person even shared that she personally saw a sasquatch when she was a small child. Stating that she “looked outside and saw a very large hairy man looking into the cottage. Then she screamed and her parents could not console her.”

Something to ponder as we approach Halloween. If you happen to have your own encounter, try to remember to check if it was a full moon.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Post written by Corrina Zacharkiw – Nursing instructor

Contributions from various Nursing faculty

Awards Luncheon 2019

October 24, 2019

Congratulations to all our 2019 winners; your hard work is always noticed even when you don’t think it is!

Jean Burrows Scholarship – Emma Collins : Jean Burrows was the Nursing Department Chair from 1974 to 1998, and upon her retirement, this scholarship was created for a first year student recognizing their outstanding academic achievement.

Bernice Parrott Award – Breanne Trach, Hamida Caringal, Demetrio Vasquez, Wilda Cortes, Madeline Gylywoychuk-Winkler, Chantel Verbong, Amanda Pfeffer, Kirsten Hedley-Brown : This award was established to deserving students entering their second or third year in the BN program, to recognize their hard work and efforts.

Nursing Students Endowment ScholarshipMachaela Cavanagh, Rachel Hotson, Chris Hofer, Melissa Nelson : This award was established from students who, in 1997 as part of their tuition fees, contributed to this endowment fund.  In 2001, a portion of the money was dedicated to the creation of this award.  The class of 2002 also made a sizable contribution from their own fundraising efforts.

Nursing Legacy Award – Rachel Litz, Samantha Siedlik, Machaela Cavanagh, Adam Jastrzebski, Emma Collins, Melissa Nelson, Daphne Martin, Taylor Bahniuk, Alisha Rana, Rachel Hotson : This award recognizes outstanding clinical performance of students in years one to three. A student in Nursing Techniques 3 is also recognized for excelling in both their academic and skill performance, while the Health Assessment award recognizes a student who has outstanding academic achievement in both Health Assessment courses.  This award was established by combining sources from the Stanton Family, the Duncan Family, and Phyllis Aaron, along with the Nursing faculty.

Thorey Johnson Nursing Award – Karyn Tiel, Sheena Scholz, Kiersten McMullen : In honor of their mother, Mrs. Johnson’s daughters have established this scholarship for a nursing student who has expressed a special interest in rural nursing practice.

Nursing Leadership Award – Lauren Lacroix, Michelle Queau : This award is for deserving students who have gone above and beyond in support and leadership of their peers. This award was established by the awards committee, with nominations from faculty and peers.

Discipline of Professional Nursing Award – Jorien Friesen, Leah Cooper, Chris Hofer : This award is presented to students for their outstanding achievement in the courses of Discipline of Professional Nursing 1-5.

Mary Langhan Nursing Award – Denae Bastian : This award is  presented to a third year student who has demonstrated a high level of skill in the clinical setting and has expressed a special interest in obstetrics and gynecology.

Karla Ferens Memorial Entrance Award for Health Care Aide – Jeanelle Chua, Elizabeth Codville, Samantha Galvin This award recipient has displayed the same accomplishments exhibited by Karla Ferens: involvement in sports and leadership qualities.  Karla was a 2011 RRC graduate of the HCA program.

Community Service Award – Ryan Penner, Samantha Eveleigh : This award is presented to second and third year students who have volunteered for a community agency while maintaining sound academic achievement.

Karen Wall Indigenous Nursing Student Award – Dana Strong : This award is presented to a third year student of Canadian Indigenous heritage who has achieved academic success in the BN program and has demonstrated leadership within the Indigenous community.

Elizabeth Scaife Memorial Award – Lovepreet Sharma : This award is presented to a BPIEN (Bridging Program for Internationally Educated Nurses) student who demonstrated outstanding academic and clinical performance.

Nursing Student International Education Award – Jason Juell, Lauren Lacroix, Emma Collins, Marlo Periera-Edwards : This award recognizes those who pursue educational opportunities internationally while completing their nursing program.

Written and Photos by Jennifer Johnson – Nursing Lab Manager

With descriptions of awards courtesy of the Nursing Awards Committee and a special thank you  to them for a great luncheon.

RRC Students Shine in First Clinical Experience

October 17, 2019

RRC students in their first clinical course are being recognized in various ways by hospital staff at more than one hospital. St Boniface unit 4B is a busy medical unit. The staff there maintain a kind of “cheers for peers” bulletin board where they can commend their co-workers for especially good performance. What is unique is the staff are recognizing the efforts of student nurses in this way. Students have been commended for such things as “recognizing a medical issue” and “being helpful throughout the shift”. The unit staff have remarked that the students “are not standing around” and they are appreciative of this. At Selkirk General Hospital, the staff have been impressed with the ability of their first term students. They told Debbie Miller, the Clinical Course Leader, that they are impressed with the students’ assessing and reporting skills. At Victoria Hospital, the staff are asking if the students can come back the next day because they are so helpful. These first year students are off to a great start and the Nursing faculty and staff at RRC are happy to see that.

Post written by Kate Tate and Deb Miller – Nursing Instructors

Where Are You Now: Kelsey Hannah

October 10, 2019

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

Where are you now?

I currently work at the Health Sciences Centre, the same hospital where I completed my senior practicum. At the moment I am on a trauma/complex spinal surgery unit, but I also work in acute medicine.

How easy was it to find a job after graduation?

I received two job offers before I even completed my senior practicum! I accepted a position in acute medicine where I was doing my final practicum, since I was already familiar with the unit. Even if there is not a position right away when you finish practicum, a lot of managers will hire new grads into casual positions until a position opens. This is a great way to gain experience, earn money and study for the NCLEX.

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

I used the same principles I learned from student nursing and applied them to my new practice as a nurse: ask questions, work hard, be on time and take accountability for your actions. I also relied heavily on my nursing co-workers to help with the transition; many experienced nurses are more than willing to help mentor new grads if you ask for their help and show interest to learn.

How did you build your confidence as a new nurse?

I tried to take every opportunity that scared me. If there was an especially complex patient that required a lot of nursing skills I was unfamiliar with, I would ask the charge nurse to place that patient in my assignment. The only way to build experience on the job is by doing the job. Volunteer for these types of experiences, ask for guidance when unsure and confidence will follow!

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

This is the most important lesson I learned in school: when you don’t know the answer to something, always ask! It is impossible to know everything there is to know about nursing when you graduate – not even close! The only way to learn is by asking for help from your team and doing the job. The help is always there if you ask!

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

Nursing school is hard but it is all worth it when it’s over! The RRC nursing program is incredibly difficult but it prepares you well for transitioning to practice.

What piece of advice would you give to current students?

Work hard, always seek out help when you need it and you will make it through! Nursing is an incredibly diverse field with so many areas to choose from. If you are starting to feel burnt out or that you are not able to resonate with a particular area, move to a different specialty! You don’t know until you try and there is a specialty area out there for everyone.

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

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!