Practical Nursing students Olivia Anderson and Matthew Edwards discuss their careers for National Nursing Week

nurses-weekFleming College wishes Practical Nursing students a happy National Nursing Week! This year’s theme is #YESThisIsNursing, which raises awareness of the expanding roles, settings and sectors nurses work in. It is a hashtag to represent how social media can be used to promote advocacy and raise awareness on important issues.

Practical Nursing student Olivia Anderson said National Nursing Week is important because it draws attention to issues facing nursing and healthcare, can advocate for change, and celebrates the achievements and commitment of nurses. She also loves that it is a hashtag.

Olivia has wanted to be a nurse since she was 12 years old, after being diagnosed with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine.

“My case was quite severe, which meant that it required some pretty serious surgical intervention. I underwent an 11 hour surgery to have my spine fused with titanium rods. During my stay in the hospital after the surgery, I was inspired by the nurses who cared for me, particularly one,” said Olivia. “One nurse saw how greasy my hair had become and she washed my hair for me while I laid in bed– I wasn’t allowed to shower because of my incision, and it made me feel 100x  better to have clean hair. It was such a simple thing, but it made a profound difference in how I felt during my initial recovery. I wanted to make people feel like that too.”

Olivia, who was elected three times to Fleming’s Student Administrative Council, just completed her fourth semester at Fleming College and is heading into consolidation in orthopaedics this month. She appreciates the amount of options nurses have in their profession, but plans to gain experience before branching off.

“I had the opportunity to shadow an amazing nurse at St. Elizabeth Home Health Care who specialized in palliative care and it really inspired me to pursue community and palliative nursing,” said Olivia. “You may think of home-care nursing as being a little less traditional, but in fact this was how healthcare was delivered for most of history. I loved being in the community because of the variety in your day, the independence and autonomy, and being able to see your clients where they are most comfortable. Being able to see someone’s living conditions is also a great assessment tool when caring for your clients.”

Olivia’s classmate Matthew Edwards also plans on gaining experience in a traditional setting first. “Once I have a few years under my belt, I would love to merge my international development experience with nursing and take my skills abroad,” said Matthew, who is starting his consolidation at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener-Waterloo. “Nurses can occupy a variety of roles outside of their medical distinctions such as advocate, leader, educator and activist, all of which are vital in developing communities.”

Unlike Olivia, Matthew did not grow up aspiring to be a nurse; but wanted to help others through agency and organization work providing support to those in need around the world. He earned an undergraduate degree in International Development and History at Western University and continued his education at Humber College in International Development Project Management.

“After a few forays I decided that life abroad was not for me, but my desire to help those in need was still very much alive,” said Matthew, who has since developed a passion for nursing.

He chose Fleming College after living in Toronto for a few years. “I had my fill of the urban life,” said Matthew. “Fleming College had some of the best ratings with regards to passing rates of the CNO Registration Exam. This sparked my initial interest and Peterborough’s grassroots nature sealed the deal,” he said.

Matthew shared that Fleming College helped shape his nursing foundation. His career goal is to become a Registered Nurse, earn his Master of Nursing, specialize, and continue learning until he retires.

“The nursing profession is constantly changing as new research and technologies become available each and every day,” said Matthew. “In order to provide my patients with the very best, I will have to stay on my toes and always be expanding my education.”

Matthew hopes National Nursing Week raises awareness of what it means to be a nurse. “I fear that people often have a very singular view of what a nurse does, but in reality nurses do it all! There are few professions that require such an enormous range of skills and experiences,” he said. “I hope that National Nursing Week can help people realize just how unique and special nurses really are.”