Lifelong friends launch nursing careers in Ashern
A pair of lifelong friends has already marked many milestones over the years and they’ve just embarked on a new adventure together — a career in nursing.
Kaylee Smith and Taylor Buors, who grew up together in St. Laurent, both completed their first day as full-time nurses at Ashern Hospital on Sept. 12. Although they’ve ended up on the same career path, they took different routes to arrive at their destination.
Smith, a registered nurse, graduated in October from the bachelor of nursing program at the University of Manitoba. But her journey started even earlier with summer employment as a health-care aide at Stonewall Hospital.
“Here I was able to hone some of my clinical and professional skills,” she said. “I also met some of the most helpful and kind health-care professionals who took the time to teach me how to care for patients at the bedside.”
Then for her internship, Smith gained experience in primary care throughout the region.
“In this position, I was able to work within my home community of St. Laurent where I got to better understand the challenges in delivery of primary care to an underserved community and how the health-care team works so hard to provide the best care possible, including prioritizing the French language program,” she said.
“I also had the privilege of experiencing the leadership side of primary care. It gave me an appreciation of how hard our leadership teams work to serve our communities in the best possible way.”
Smith expressed gratitude for these foundational work experiences, as well as for resources that helped along the way, such as the Home for the Summer program offered by Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority.
“I also had the opportunity to work as a health-care aide full-time for several summers through generous funding from the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) in collaboration with Indigenous Human Resources at IERHA. The Grow Your Own Bursary program was essential for funding my education but also in ensuring that I would work within my communities and give back some day,” she said.
“These resources were so impactful throughout my education in preparing me for my career every step of the way. I was able to gain valuable clinical and leadership experiences as a student through the various positions, and the funding allowed me to worry less about tuition and more about focusing on my courses and eventually giving back to my communities.”
Looking back, Smith always knew she wanted to work in health care but was particularly drawn to nursing.
“Nursing is very hands-on and you get to be personable with patients and clients,” she said.
“There is also so much opportunity for growth, whether that be moving into leadership or there is always an opportunity to continue learning as you move into different fields of nursing.”
At the same time, she is also grateful for the chance to work in the Interlake.
“As a new nurse, I wanted the feeling of working close to home while still gaining a wide variety of clinical experiences. Here at Ashern, I get the opportunity to work closely with a large Indigenous population and serve the surrounding communities, including my own,” said Smith, who now lives in Eriksdale.
“I feel proud to be a part of the growing number of Indigenous health-care professionals within our region and to feel supported.”
Similar to Smith, Buors always knew she wanted to pursue a career that would allow her to make a positive impact on other people’s lives.
“Nursing is a profession where you are able to do that every day — this is what initially drew me to the career. I enjoy nursing because you get to meet people from all walks of life and are able to be there and help them during a time of need,” said Buors, who graduated in June from the University College of the North in Selkirk.
“In addition, I like that it is very hands-on and that every day brings a new challenge. I like that there is so much opportunity for continuous learning and growth within the profession.”
Ashern Hospital is already familiar ground for Buors, who completed a three-month senior practicum placement there, with the majority of her shifts in the emergency room.
“This is integral to me as a new nurse because I am able to continue to enhance my clinical knowledge, critical thinking skills and gain more hands-on experience, all while being in a rural hospital close to home. Working at Ashern Hospital gives me the opportunity to provide health care to a large Indigenous population and many surrounding communities within the Interlake-Eastern region, including my own,” said Buors, who continues to reside in St. Laurent.
“It felt really good to obtain full-time permanent employment within the IERHA as a new grad nurse. I am proud to work at a hospital that serves so many communities within the Interlake-Eastern region.”
In addition, Buors expressed gratitude for the help she received from the Manitoba Métis Federation throughout her post-secondary education.
“The MMF partnered with the University College of the North to deliver the nursing program in Selkirk. They funded myself and 13 other Métis students throughout the entirety of the program. This resource meant a lot to me and was crucial during my education, as it allowed me to focus solely on my studies and excel within the program,” she said.
“I strongly encourage others to utilize available programs and funding that is offered to post-secondary students pursuing a career in health care. All of the support that is out there truly helps in being successful throughout your program and chosen career path.”
Adding to the excitement of embarking on her new career, Buors is energized by the opportunity to work with her long-time friend.
“It feels great to work in the same hospital as Kaylee, especially since we grew up together. I feel proud to work alongside her since we share similar values to provide holistic, ethical and compassionate care to our patients,” she said.
“It is also nice to have someone that is new to the profession that I can go to for support, especially with all the challenges working in health care brings.”
Similarly, Smith shared her excitement about starting her nursing career alongside Buors.
“It feels amazing that even though we took different paths after high school, we still ended up in the same career — let alone at the same facility,” she said.
“I’m glad I have a friend, a colleague and a carpool buddy to share these new experiences with as we begin our careers.”
Opportunities for nursing education in the Interlake
Tanya Cheetham, chief nursing officer and regional lead for acute care and public health for Interlake-Eastern RHA, draws attention to opportunities in the Interlake to obtain nursing education close to home.
The recent Assiniboine Community College course in Arborg, held in conjunction with Fieldstone Ventures and IERHA, brought 25 nursing students to the region.
“They were able to complete their senior practicums — and for those who reside in the region, they were able to obtain positions in their communities, whether it was acute care, home care, long-term care or dialysis,” Cheetham said.
“To date, IERHA has hired 16 students from the Arborg program. We have also hired two licensed practical nurses students from the University College of the North program and six registered nurses from either University of Manitoba or Red River College.”
A recent communication from the University of Manitoba suggests that 86 per cent of students obtain employment where they have completed their senior practicums, she added.
“Evidence indicates that people never know something as thoroughly as when they have to coach or teach others; therefore, having students in the work environment strengthens the knowledge and professionalism of the existing workforce. Coaching and mentoring junior staff and students is a professional expectation of all nurses by their regulatory bodies. We thank the nurses and care teams that welcomed students and supported them in their learning journey,” Cheetham said.
“We welcome nursing students to the IERHA and will provide safe environments that foster learning and growth. Once the students complete their practicums, we want them to begin their nursing careers in the IERHA.”
To learn more about education opportunities in health care, visit www.ierha.ca/careers.