Fleming College graduate Kimberly Coe feels honoured to be a nurse

Kimberly Coe, pictured before an N95 surgical mask, face shield and gloves were required as a protective measure.

Kimberly Coe felt anxious when the COVID-19 pandemic began, but now the Registered Practical Nurse feels comfortable with her new normal.

“I feel safe and surrounded by a good group of people,” said Kimberly, who works in the Palliative Unit and Complex Continuing Care at Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC).

In Kimberly’s new work routine, she wears street clothes to work and changes into uniform at the hospital. She also wears an N95 surgical mask, face shield and gloves as a protective measure.

But adapting her work routine is worth it because Kimberly loves being a nurse.

“I love it. Is it hard? Yes. But I find caring for people to be a privilege,” she explains. “In Palliative Nursing, it’s not just about the patients, it’s about the families you touch.”

One special moment was when Kimberly received a private Facebook message from the daughter of a patient who had passed away.

Three months earlier, Kimberly had painted that patient’s nails. “In the message, she said it took her three months to find me,” Kimberly explains. “She told me, ‘my mom may not have known you were painting her nails, but I did. And that mattered to me. That made a difference to me.’”

Kimberly loves helping others and has always spent time caring for her family, friends and neighbours. She decided to pursue her dream of being a nurse at 51 years old when, after a late summer night chatting with a friend, she felt encouraged to apply to Fleming College.

Unfortunately Kimberly was not accepted into the Practical Nursing program, but she was encouraged to consider the General Arts and Science – College Health Science (GHS) program (now called Pre-Health Sciences Pathway to Certificates and Diplomas). GHS is a pathway program that prepares students for admission to college programs in health sciences, biology or chemical sciences.

 “The Practical Nursing coordinator at the time said the GHS program would be a good thing for me to do because I had been out of school for a long time,” said Kimberly. “She said it would help get the wheels going and that really appealed to me. I enrolled and it was the best thing for me!”

Kimberly balanced her studies with personal responsibilities, including being a single mom to a 16-year-old and home ownership, and is happy with her decision to return to college. She encourages anyone considering a nursing career to take the Pre-Health program because it prepares students for college and helps with the transition.

“Everything in the GHS program is all useful stuff and it’s a really great way to figure out what you want to do for your career,” said Kimberly. “I loved (coordinator) Susan Hyndman’s biology class; she is a phenomenal teacher and it was an unbelievable learning experience.”

Outside of class, Kimberly worked at the Fleming Campus Store and enjoyed taking study breaks in the Steele Centre. “I would go there to relax and listen to music, talk to friends, and close my books for a minute,” she said. “It’s important to take breaks and have fun too.”

To support her studies, Kimberly used Fleming Tutoring Services and highly recommends this academic support. “I never failed. My marks were high and I made the Dean’s List for the first time in my life!” she said. “People think you only use Tutoring when you’re failing, but you should go to Tutoring right from the start to help you succeed.”

After completing the GHS program in 2017, Kimberly enrolled in Practical Nursing and, during her last year at Fleming College, she was joined on campus by her daughter. Kimberly’s daughter is studying in Fleming’s School of Trades and Technology and Kimberly is proud of her for pursuing this profession.

While her daughter continues studying at Fleming College, Kimberly is proud that her education led to employment. After completing consolidation in the Palliative Unit at PRHC and graduating in 2019, Kimberly was hired immediately as a Registered Practical Nurse.

She highly recommends Fleming’s Pre-Health program to others and said she really enjoyed her Fleming College experience.

“People asked me when I started, ‘are you going to the Orientation?’ and I said, ‘of course I am!’ I loved that day; I had the most fun! And I wear my Fleming College buff from Orientation to the hospital!” she laughs. “I loved those days and I want to go back– I’d love to return and volunteer in the GHS program.”