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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


May 23, 2019

Thank you for coming out and learning from our 3rd year nursing students at their annual Health Fair: playing games, learning lots, and taking away treats!

This year’s topics included Lyme Disease, Prostate Cancer, Cervical Cancer, Heart Attack, West Nile Virus, Drowning, and Hepatitis B………Great Job Everyone!

A Very Special Donation made to “A Port in the Storm”

April 11, 2019

Imagine finding out you must leave home for weeks or even months to receive essential medical treatment. What do you do? Every year, hundreds of rural and northern Manitobans and Northwest Ontarians learn that their necessary medical treatment for cancer or other life altering conditions are only available in Winnipeg – perhaps hundreds or thousands of kilometres from home.

A Port in the Storm was co-founded by RRC nursing instructor Joanne Loughery and was created so that people needing treatment in Winnipeg do not have to worry about managing an extended stay in costly impersonal accommodations. Rates on furnished suites are kept very low, so guests and family can afford to stay together in a comfortable environment. Home-like affordable settings and a supportive community atmosphere are core values of the organization. Therefore, to provide a restful home for someone pulled away from theirs by illness is an essential activity of the organization.

Joanne Loughery and Anne-Marie Kowatsch

RRC instructor Anne-Marie Kowatsch has recognized the importance of the core values of this organization. Anne-Marie is a member of the River Crazy Quilters. As 2018 approached, this group was looking for a 25th anniversary project, and once a bit of background was presented, A Port in the Storm was chosen unanimously. Some members already had quilts in varying stages of completion; others set to work to complete one or more quilts. The goal was to have a quilt for every suite. One of the Riverview members suggested that the Crescent Fort Rouge church quilting group would be willing to contribute quilts. Carellan Sewing Centre graciously donated their time to machine quilt several of the blankets. A true community spirit for an incredible cause.

This donation illustrates a labour of love and compassion for those who need additional support and the added comforts of home at times of need. A Port in the Storm would like to extend their extreme gratitude for this very special and thoughtful gift.

For additional information on the organization, please visit

Post written by Joanne Loughery and Anne-Marie Kowatsch – Nursing Instructors

Photos by Meagen Chorney – Nursing Instructor

Nursing Department Participates in Both the 2019 RRC Open House and the 2019 Rotary Career Symposium

March 29, 2019

On February 19th 2019, Red River College hosted its annual Open House event. The Nursing Department was able to participate in this event by welcoming future students as they came to visit the Nursing lab. Nursing instructors were on hand to greet visitors and answer questions about our nursing and health care aide programs. Students were able to walk through the lab space and view the various skills equipment on hand.

The Nursing Department was also present at the Rotary Career Symposium that took place from March 11th – March 13th at the RBC Convention Centre. The booth was visited by many students, parents, and educators. Staff were able to discuss career opportunities for those interested in working as nurses or health care aides. Programs that the Nursing Department at Red River College has to offer, along with the admission requirements for those programs, were provided to visitors stopping by the booth.

A big thank-you to all of the Nursing instructors who participated in helping out with these two events!

Post and photos by Jennifer Fontaine – Nursing Student Advisor & RPL Advisor for HCA Equivalency

Getting a healthy start, Learning from the pros

March 7, 2019

During the month of February, our third year nursing students from Epidemiology and Illness Prevention held their Health Promotion Poster Fair! The Poster Fair educates the college community on preventable public health issues.

From learning about the importance of driving safely, taking care and caution in the sun, and the importance of body mechanics, faculty and students are now one step closer to taking care of themselves. Education on breast health, prevention of STDs such as Chlamydia, and vaccine-preventable illnesses like measles provided an excellent source of information to those who stopped by and visited the booths. Games, riddles, and questions helped engage interest of those walking by.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by to support our students’ learning as they support all of us through their health promotion efforts.

Post and photos by Stacy Kutcher – Nursing Instructor (Adapted from post by Ana Stipanovic and Meagen Chorney)