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International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife: Robyn Klassen

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Woman with long hair and a beanie hat with trees and mountains
Robyn Klassen enjoys the travel and outdoor opportunities that come with her role with Northern Health.

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 has been highlighting a different nurse or midwife each month. For the past month, we interviewed Robyn Klassen, a Surgical RN, who is part of the Northern Health travel nurse program.

Where do you live/how do you like it?

I currently live in Dawson Creek, BC. As someone who grew up in the North, but also had the privilege of living and working in other areas of BC, I can say warm-heartedly that the Peace Region is and always will be my home. I love that my backyard is one large playground where I can hike, bike, and adventure with friends.

Tell us about your nursing experience and role(s).

I started my career alongside three of my best friends from nursing school. We all packed up and moved to Fort St. John (FSJ), BC, where I got my first full-time position as a nurse with Northern Health (NH). Soon after I was hired, I took the Perioperative Nursing Program.

Both personally and professionally, I was quick to learn what it takes to be a valuable nurse and team player. After three years in FSJ I decided to take myself on a career excursion. Over the next couple of years, I worked in five different surgical centers across BC. I worked alongside surgeons, anesthetists, and nurses from all over. I gained a remarkable amount of knowledge and experience, and I found a passion working as a travelling surgical nurse. 

What do you like about your role?

Professionally, I like to continuously improve my skills and advance my career. It can be as simple as learning a new surgery, or working with a new surgical team member. As a travelling nurse I get to learn skills that are beyond just that. I get the experience and the exciting variety that travel brings. I get to work with different people in different situations all the time and explore more places inside and outside of the hospital.

What impact does your role have on patients?

Surgical nurses play a very essential role for patients as we are there before, during, and after any surgical procedure. I like putting the shoe on the other foot and making the experience for the patient as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. We have to be patient, we have to listen, and most importantly we have to have a good sense of humor.

What has your nursing background taught you?

Be present in the moment. Every day you’re learning. Learning how to take constructive criticism and feedback will make your job that much more enjoyable, and your relationships that much stronger.

What made you want to go into nursing?

I wanted to do something with a career that was mobile, interesting, but also challenging. With nursing there is a lot of variety in the routine. I’ve always been a person who likes to work with their hands, and having a mom who spoke so highly of the career, surgical nursing seemed to be a perfect fit. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on all the different instruments and tools, and witness the instant gratification from the patient. There is a very rewarding nature to the job.

What is one thing about nurses that you wish you could tell everyone?

Nurses have a strong work family. You will grow closer to the people you work with faster than anyone else. You’ll love them and disagree with them just like family. You’ll celebrate every holiday with them, you’ll share your lunch, “spill the tea,” and scratch each other’s backs. They understand your stress and love of work more than anyone else, and they are there for you. These relationships are strong, full of support, and trustworthy.

What drew you to Northern Health?

The North has always been my home. NH has allowed me to take full advantage of my nursing career. I am able to enjoy my lifestyle and have the freedom of flexibility. They have been more than generous in helping me achieve my career goals and work out a schedule that benefits us both.