After more than 14 years working as a registered psychiatric nurse in western Manitoba, Kaylan Trott remembers the excitement – and the anxiety – of being a new nurse like it was yesterday.

“Making the move from life as a student to that of a working nurse can be both exciting and nerve-wracking,” said Trott, Client Care Coordinator for Brandon’s Adult Acute Psychiatric Unit. “While our training prepares us well for the many activities of patient care, things like taking blood pressure, dispensing medications, and other daily tasks that are completed consistently each shift without too much variation, building rapport with patients is something that you really learn on the job.”

“Establishing that therapeutic trusting relationship, understanding the vulnerability, and making a true connection are things that you learn by observing – and by doing – over time.”

It was Trott’s ability to put herself in the shoes of a new or student nurse that made her the ideal person to support development of her unit’s participation in the undergraduate nurse employee program in 2023, and ultimately, to act in a mentorship role to the unit’s first registered psychiatric nurse (RPN) UNEs.

“I approached it thinking about what I would have liked to have known when I started. What would have prepared me to make that shift from student to nurse,” said Trott. “Students come to us with some very developed skills so I thought about how we can help them perform those skills in situations that might be high stress or with patients who might be unpredictable, which is a reality in acute mental health.”

A graduate of Brandon University’s Nursing School, Trott works in the community’s Centre for Adult Psychiatry, a 25 bed inpatient psychiatric unit that sees an average of 550-600 admissions per year. Patients from across Western Manitoba are supported through times of severe crisis, including assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses, medication reviews or adjustments, psychological testing or assessment and more.

In 2023, the unit was given the opportunity to participate in the UNE program, which offers third and fourth-year nursing students who meet the eligibility requirements an opportunity to work in a medical, surgical or mental health setting. 

“We had the opportunity to really tailor this program to what would work on our unit, recognizing the specific patient population we care for and the opportunity for registered psychiatric nursing students to put their classroom learning to use in a clinical setting,” said Trott who has just completed her first UNE mentorship and is preparing for the next.

Building strong connections is what drew Trott to a career in psychiatric nursing and she is excited to be offering her knowledge and experience to a new graduating class of nurses training to support this highly specialized patient population.

“Our UNEs were able to watch what senior nurses were doing, how they handled and de-escalated situations or built trusting relationships with patients so they could provide care safely. This allowed them to build confidence as well as inter-personal and critical thinking skills in a safe and mentored environment,” she added. “It was a very positive experience that both benefited the unit and provided a really positive learning opportunity for the students.”

Undergraduate Nurse Employee opportunities are available across Manitoba. For eligibility requirements, to learn more about the role, and to apply, visit Undergraduate Nurse Employee (healthcareersmanitoba.ca).

I graduated from nursing in Alberta a little over four years ago and immediately went to work at a large hospital in Calgary.

After two years, I moved to Canmore, excited to work at a smaller, rural facility that would allow me to explore work in a number of different clinical areas while living in a place with easy access to nature.

In June of 2022, my partner’s work brought us to Manitoba.

I didn’t know much about the province. I had heard of Churchill and wanted to see the Polar Bears but beyond that I didn’t know what the province would have to offer.

We have now been living here for a year and I would say that Manitoba definitely undersells its many benefits.

As a nurse, this is a province where you can currently buy a home on a single income, something that is becoming less of a reality in many other parts of Canada. The cost of living is noticeably cheaper here than any major city in Alberta. And the lake country here is incredible! I had heard of Muskoka and Ontario lake country but I like this even better. It’s close to the city and easily accessible but still so peaceful, serene and feels untouched.

The summers are also incredible! They are so much more beautiful than I realized, almost tropical. It is hot and it stays hot and I’ve been blown away by the plants, flowers and trees that can grow here.

Working as a nurse in Manitoba has given me the ability to experience both a large acute care facility and a number of smaller facilities in communities across the province. As a travel (or float pool) nurse I’m able to use the skills and competencies I have developed in labour and delivery in a large hospital, to help out in smaller facilities across the province.

Not only do I know that I’m helping in an area where my skills are needed but I am also able to expand and consolidate skills that I might not use as much in the city where we have easier access to specialized teams, like NICU.

In smaller facilities, making do with what you have requires you to work with your team, use everyone’s different background and experiences, and think outside the box. It’s exciting to work to a fuller scope of practice within a particular specialty. I’ve been able to use some of my obstetrics training, in specialized areas like resuscitation, to support care of a newborn.

Everywhere I have gone, the teams have been really welcoming and have done everything possible to integrate me into their close-knit core team, ease me into the role, and set me up for success.

Across Manitoba, that sense of community extends well beyond the walls of the hospital. My partner calls it “Pride in Place”, meaning that across Manitoba, there’s a real sense of working together and celebrating each other. It may sound corny, but in my experience, the handle “Friendly Manitoba”, is very well deserved.

I was drawn to nursing because of the holistic approach to care. I wanted to help people through their health situations, comfort them, and support them as they navigate resources in their community.

I spent the first five years of my nursing career at HSC Adult Emergency, which helped me gain the skills and experience I need to care for a diverse patient population. It has really shaped me into the nurse I am today – I am able to manage many different fast-paced and acute situations.

Yet I’ve always been interested in working in northern Manitoba, as meeting people where they’re at in their home communities seemed very rewarding to me. So, when I heard about the Provincial Nursing Float Pool, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

It has been such a privilege to be welcomed into different communities and health care teams to share the knowledge I’ve gained over the years. I feel like I’m able to provide that more holistic care when I’m working in northern Manitoba. The pace is a bit slower than it is in Winnipeg, so I have more time to build relationships with my patients.

I recently cared for a mother and her young infant. Her child was sick, and you could just see the terror and distress in the mother’s eyes. It was so fulfilling to be able to sit with her, listen to her concerns, and answer her questions — something that is less possible in a larger urban hospital.

The Provincial Nursing Float Pool has the flexibility of working for an agency with all the benefits of being a staff nurse. I’m in control of where and when I want to work, but I can still contribute to a pension and earn evening and weekend premiums. Plus, I get to explore the natural beauty of northern Manitoba on my days off. It’s a win-win situation.

Ivy Garcia has been hard at work. A student in Manitoba’s first class of operating room assistants (ORAs), Garcia and 29 peers at facilities across the province have spent the past 12 weeks blazing a new trail, participating in a demanding combination of online and skills lab activities that have prepared them for their new roles in surgical, operating and procedural environments.

It’s a challenging schedule, well-suited to students like Garcia, who has significant experience working as a health-care aide and a perioperative aide and who was recognized for her strong work ethic and motivation. 

“I was approached and encouraged to apply,” said Garcia, who has worked as a perioperative aide in HSC Winnipeg for nine years. “They recognized my motivation and thought that I could be successful in leveling up my skills.”

“The first half of the course was tough, learning the skills that would be one of the requirements to finish this course. My manager told me what to expect and once, I started working in the unit they helped me with everything I might need. I feel so glad that I am able to work in this area and I’m gaining lots of experience,” added Garcia.

Each ORA is training and working alongside a nurse mentor who expressed an interest in participating in the program. The mentors have identified the duties within their day-to-day work that can be completed by someone other than a nurse and have been working with the ORAs throughout their education and training.

It’s a role that Maureen Fudge, Clinical Resource Nurse in HSC’s Plastic Surgery, Reconstruction and Burns Unit, was quick to express an interest in.

“When our manager first asked who would be interested, I put together all the duties that I am responsible for that aren’t nursing roles, and felt that an ORA could really benefit our team,” said Fudge, who is working alongside Garcia. “We do some pretty complex cases here and there’s a lot behind the scenes that I support that is not nursing related, so having somebody to help has been really valuable.”

Two women stand in an operating theatre.
Maureen Fudge (left) and Ivy Garcia (right)

The connection between Garcia and Fudge is obvious as they talk about the role and the experience, expressing appreciation for each other and even completing each other’s sentences.

“In plastics we are very much a team and everyone works closely together so fitting into that dynamic is important. We knew that Ivy would be a great fit since we’ve worked with her previously,” said Fudge who has worked in the same unit as Garcia for the past nine years. “Ivy has had to learn a lot in a short period of time but she is committed to doing the work required, participating in the skills labs, and learning about the surgeries we are doing, the different equipment they each require, as well as things like how to open sterile supplies and how to turn the room over between surgeries.”

On a day-to-day basis, Fudge said, there may be two or three plastic surgery operating rooms running at the same time. The addition of a dedicated ORA is helping Fudge complete her patient-care duties, while ensuring that the necessary work to prepare for upcoming cases is done, something that she sees as a significant benefit.

“I encourage my co-workers to participate in the program if they have the opportunity,” said Fudge. “The ORAs can only help us. There are so many things that we do as a CRN that takes away from the time we have available for patient care. Having Ivy able to support those roles that don’t need to be completed by a nurse has been so helpful.”

This sense of appreciation for the newest member of the Plastic Surgery, Reconstruction, and Burns team is obvious and has created a welcoming, supportive environment as Garcia starts in her new role. 

“They are so kind to me. I’m so blessed with those people who are around me right now. I love working with them and supporting them,” said Garcia who confirmed that despite the hard work, she would make the decision to apply all over again. 

“Yes, definitely and I encourage my more senior coworkers to consider this opportunity. Come and join the team. You have the ability and the capacity to do well.”


Manitoba’s first class of Operating Room Assistants are completing their studies on April 28, 2023. Join us as we congratulate them and wish them all the best as they embark on this new career.

Learn more about Operating Room Assistants, or apply for a future intake.

My name is Ken. I am an internationally educated nurse living in Manitoba, Canada. 

My Canadian journey began when my family and I came to Manitoba more than ten years ago. Though this journey required some sacrifices, especially for my parents, I can say that it has definitely been worthwhile.

I graduated from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. When I arrived in Manitoba, my main focus was to get my credentials recognized by the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba. It’s a rigorous process but after several months I successfully obtained my Manitoba RN license and started my career in Canada as a nurse. Since then I’ve had the privilege of working in various clinical, leadership, and volunteer roles in Manitoba.

My first nursing job in Canada was at Manitoba’s largest hospital, Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg (HSC). I started in an acute medicine clinical teaching unit and from there, completed additional education to work at the hospital’s surgical intensive care unit (SICU). I provided critical care nursing to trauma, neurosurgical, surgical, and burn patients. I also had the opportunity to be a clinical education facilitator for third year nursing students from the University of Manitoba, a role that allowed me to teach and facilitate the integration of theory and clinical practice.  

Along the way, I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry at the University of Winnipeg as well as my Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba.

Over the years, I moved into management roles where I led and managed different clinical programs, including long-term care, personal care, and critical care. My unique combination of education and experience opened doors for me and I was proud to become the first civilian senior officer of the Communications division with the Winnipeg Police Service. In this role I was responsible for 9-1-1 and digital communications systems.

Today, I am CancerCare Manitoba’s Chief of Clinical Operations, a role that allows me to improve cancer services in Manitoba and the experience of Manitobans burdened with cancer. 

Throughout my career, I have believed in doing my ordinary duties extraordinarily well with not only competence but also compassion and commitment. This mindset, in a province of countless opportunities, creates an ideal environment for success.

Manitoba is a place where you can find a sense of belonging amongst a diverse and multicultural population. The diversity here offers many opportunities to learn about different cultures, customs, and ways of life, and creates a unique and exciting environment to grow and thrive.

The communities here are large enough to offer many affordable options for where you want to live and enjoy life’s pleasures and small enough to feel like family. The community’s support means anyone new to Manitoba doesn’t have to feel alone. It’s a place where people are friendly, welcoming, and always willing to lend a hand. 

Manitoba summers are particularly beautiful, and I enjoy every opportunity to be outdoors, hiking, exploring different trails and parks, and spending time with friends and family. Yes, Manitoba is also known for its winters but the changing seasons offer lots to do! Manitoba is the place where you can experience the northern lights, ice skate on river trails, ice fish on frozen lakes, watch hockey games, watch the sunset over the prairies, and so much more.

In my time living and working here I have come to appreciate all that Manitoba has to offer!

This is a place of opportunity for your personal and professional growth and development, whether in your education, career, or personal life. The opportunities here are endless, the communities are vibrant, the nature is pristine, and the quality of life is exceptional. My journey as an internationally educated nurse in Manitoba has been incredible.

As an immigrant, I am proud and grateful for what my family and I have achieved and contributed to the community here in Canada.

As a nurse, I feel privileged for the opportunities I’ve had to contribute my knowledge and perspectives to the improvement of the healthcare system and the best possible care for Manitobans.

I encourage you to come to Manitoba, where your goals and dreams can become a reality.

My name is Elizabeth Pongase and I am one of Manitoba’s Internationally Educated Nurses.

I have worked in the health care field for half of my life, starting as a volunteer nurse at a private 50-bed hospital in the Mindanao area of the Philippines. My desire to enter the field started when I was young, witnessing the financial struggles of my parents. I asked myself ‘who will help my parents?’ That was the thing that drove me and became my upmost reason.

My husband came to Canada first, in 2016, for work and I joined him three years later with our children and applied to Manitoba’s international nursing program shortly after. Currently, I am working as a certified health care aide while I work towards my nursing license through the Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN) program.

My first job as a health care aide was in an acute hospital in Neepawa, Manitoba before moving to a local long-term care facility for a permanent position. As a health care professional in Manitoba, there will always be doors of opportunity wide open for you. There is stable employment, guaranteed hours and a decent wage. Every day, I am given new opportunities to teach skills to new colleagues, learn from others and do what I love.

Though my journey has not been without its challenges, particularly with the English language. In our line of work, it’s important to be caring, compassionate while also proficient in the language. I am grateful for the language support I receive through the IEN program at Red River College.

I love my community because I feel at home here. It is a small enough town for everyone to know one another and greet each other from across the road. I have always found it to be such a welcoming gesture. But we are also a growing community with new homes, stores and a new hospital coming soon.

After three years apart, I am grateful to be in one place with my family. But my path will continue to mean hard work towards my nursing license so that I may bring my mother here and then, later, my sister. It’s always been about bringing them here to be with us. And doing that is possible, here in Canada.

I encourage you to come to Manitoba, Canada and experience all that the province has to offer, such as good cost of living, beautiful outdoor landscapes and white Christmases like in the movies! There may be struggles along the way. That is part and parcel to the process. But nothing will come in front of you that you cannot handle. If you are hard-working and industrious, you will be able to achieve whatever your goals are here in Manitoba.

“I was born and raised in northern Manitoba. When I left home to train as a nurse in Winnipeg I thought I might travel to work elsewhere but after I graduated, I came home.

I’ve been a nurse for 28 years. I think working up here you get a broader nursing experience than you would many other places. You have an opportunity to handle a wide variety of cases, and it’s really interesting work.

I work in maternity but because it’s a smaller facility, we don’t just work in one area, we’re cross-trained to work in all of them. In my case, I can work in labour and delivery, obstetrical triage, pre and post-partum care, and also in the nursery where we manage intermediate care and sometimes higher risk babies. I’ve been fortunate to be able to work in all of these areas throughout my career.

The opportunity to work in the north gives you exposure to a lot of different scenarios. It’s such a great experience and you’re never alone to figure things out. The team up here has your back and there’s always someone to help or talk you through a particular case.

We are a close-knit group, not only with our nursing colleagues but with the physicians, dietician, housekeeping and so on. It’s a community.

For nurses who come to join our team, either for a few shifts or who decide to come back regularly, it’s a really welcoming environment. For those of us who are from here, we want you to love our home town so it’s not unusual for visiting nurses to be invited out for after-work activities. There’s something to be said for northern hospitality! The north is my home and I love it up here.

My family loves the outdoors and the north offers endless adventure just minutes from town. In the summer, there are nearby locations great for camping and fishing. There are a lot of good trails for hiking or ATV’ing. And in the winter, we bundle up to snowmobile, ice fish, or even hit the slopes at the nearby ski hill!

The north is my home and I love it up here.”

– Shannon Lindstrom, Nurse, Thompson, Man.

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