“Being an Undergraduate Nurse Employee (UNE) in the Grace Hospital medicine unit has been the best experience. The nurses and health care aides that I work with have been so kind, and any time I need help or am not sure about what to do, the nurses will demonstrate or explain the process so that I can gain confidence.

I feel very blessed to be a UNE. In this position I’m able to practice my skills to become better at performing procedures that I have less experience with. For example, I knew that I needed to do more practice on my IV insertion, so one day I wrote a message on the white board in our break room that said ‘Hello nurses, this is Yasmin. Please let me know if you need any IV insertions.’ And they did! For three weeks the nurses would come find me when their patient needed an IV and they would watch me do it, and now I have so much experience with IV insertions. I encourage fellow nursing students to not hesitate to apply for UNE positions because this has been such an amazing opportunity. Based on my own experience, I believe any nursing student who meets the minimum hour requirements to apply for a UNE position has learned the skills that they need to excel as a UNE, and the nurses that you will work with are very good at understanding your capabilities.”

“My dad’s job moved us around a lot when I was growing up. Before we came to Manitoba we lived in four different provinces. Even since moving here I lived in communities in Manitoba’s north before settling in Winnipeg.

There’s lots of things that I love about the other places I’ve lived. I still have friends and family I love to visit but I really like my life and work here in Manitoba.

It’s random things that keep me here. The cost of living is incredible especially compared to somewhere like B.C. And it’s so easy to get around and explore. You can literally drive for an hour in any direction and find something fun to do outside.

I’ve been surprised by how many events and festivals there are to experience and by how good the food scene is here, with lots of unique independent restaurants to try.

Winnipeg is a little big city. Nothing is too far, so you have basically everything you need at your fingertips. And somehow, we all seem to know someone in common. It’s a bizarre, but pretty regular, occurrence in Manitoba, and I love that.”

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.

“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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