By Karli Steen, WorkStory Ambassador
ENT/Urology Nurse Karla McTaggart-Steen had always known that she wanted to work in the field of healthcare, but originally saw herself as a physiotherapist. She started out taking Western University's Kinesiology program, but soon realized her grades didn't meet the mark.
Nursing seemed like the obvious next step: "One day I woke up and thought 'Why not become a nurse?' It's a good job, secure profession, with a good income and the best part is you get to help people through the most challenging times in their lives".
With that, she pursued the collaborative Nursing program provided by both Fanshawe College and Western University. When asked what she found most useful about the program, she had this to say: "My clinical placements were the most beneficial experiences as I was able to go to different clinical settings and gain a sense of the type of nursing I enjoyed the best. I was able to interact with patients and their families and learn about health, wellness and empathy."
A day on the job can be full of both reward and sacrifice: "I start at either 7 am, or 7 pm, and basically don't sit down for 12 hours. Sometimes I miss my breaks, or go for 6-7 hours without eating something. I am responsible for much more then basic patient care, I make sure the docs don't miss anything, that my patients get to all of their appointments on time, that they are cleaned, walked, dressings are done, vital signs stable, educated about lifestyle changes, given all their medications on time, documentation done…in addition, there is coordinating care with allied health, caring for their family members, wiping tears, making jokes, laughing and helping them to have a few smiles in this dark time in their life. Go home, shower and repeat less than 12 hours later"
In spite of the sacrifice made, Karla says that the most rewarding thing is being able to help. Whether it be guiding patients and their families through after-hospital care, or holding the hand of a dying patient, being the helping hand is a blessing. She hopes to help even further by going back to school for nurse practitioner credentials, where she hopes to work alongside a family physician.
When asked for advice for future Nursing hopefuls, she had this to say: "My advice would be make sure it is something you really want to do, not something you go into for the money. It is a very physically and emotionally draining career and if your heart is not into it, you will burn out. It is a great career in that there are so many job options for nurses. It is a very well-respected and rewarding career."