The World Health Organization has designated 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.
As part of this year-long celebration, Northern Health is highlighting a different nurse or midwife each month. For June, we interviewed Cassie Poitras, a brand new nurse graduate!
Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us, Cassie!
Where do you live? How do you feel about it?
I live in Prince George. I went to nursing school in Calgary, Alberta, but was born and raised in Prince George. After completing school this spring, I knew that I wanted to move back home to start my career. I like that it’s a smaller town and my immediate family is here. I don’t have to drive an hour to get to work! It’s been different moving home in the middle of a pandemic, but I’m happy to be back with my family.
Tell us about your nursing experience and role(s).
Well, I’m a brand new grad, so I’m at the beginning of my experience and career! During nursing school at the University of Calgary, I practised in different hospitals, but didn’t have a chance to experience any rural settings. I got some experience in primary and community care, and I liked that I got to see health care from a different perspective.
I enjoyed my experience in primary care, but wanted to work in an acute setting as I feel it’s a good starting place for a new nurse.
I also really enjoyed my maternity placement in school and would like to work on that unit eventually. Right now, I'm starting on the surgical floor at UHNBC (the University Hospital of Northern BC) and I'm excited to see the variety of surgeries and variety of patients.
What do you like about your role?
I really like all the possibilities that nursing has to offer and that's it's so diverse. I like that as a nurse, I get to know the patient as a person. We have busy shifts and a list of tasks to complete, so I appreciate when I can take even five minutes to talk to my patient and learn about them separate from their illness.
Especially with everything going on right now with COVID-19, and most patients not being able to have their family come visit them, I think they also appreciate having someone to talk to.
I remember one instance in my second year of school when I was practising in a long-term care home and was able to sit and talk with one of the residents during lunch. She commented that I was going to make a great nurse even though maybe I didn’t perform “nursing skills,” but just spent the time to listen and talk to her when she needed it.
What impact does your role have on patients?
I think the impact nursing has on patients is huge. Even just the interactions we have with people, not just direct patient care; how you treat a patient can influence how they feel about health care and their experience. Smiling at the patient and asking them how they're feeling can make their hospital care and experience that much better.
Patients come to us in their most vulnerable state. Their ability to care for themselves is limited and sometimes they have to relearn certain skills, which is where nursing comes in. We help them with their most basic needs when they can’t help themselves. And being so vulnerable, we as nurses have to help them maintain their own dignity and as much independence as possible through the care we provide.
What has your nursing background taught you?
It’s taught me that health care is more than just a diagnosis. You have to look at the whole person and where they come from. Their beliefs and thoughts about health care are just as important as what we believe as professionals needs to be done. It’s also taught me that everyone is involved in health care – nurses, doctors, families, housekeeping staff – everyone plays an important role.
What made you want to go into nursing?
I spent a lot of time in BC Children's Hospital as a child and remember having good experiences with the nurses. I wanted to influence patients' lives the way the nurses influenced mine.
Throughout my nursing school (or even when watching Grey’s Anatomy on my study breaks), I’d consider maybe pursuing medical school in the future. But then I’d remember my own experience in the hospital, and although the doctors are obviously so important, it’s the nurses floating in and out of the room that left the biggest impact on my life.
What is one thing about nurses that you wish you could tell everyone?
We're still people and we don’t always have the answers. But we’ll do our best to make sure your voice and concerns are heard.
What drew you to NH?
Just growing up in Prince George made me want to come back here.