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.”

Paramedic Josh Hogan is confident in his Fleming College education, skills and knowledge

Although Josh Hogan is still new to the paramedic profession, he feels well-prepared for his career at Peterborough Paramedics thanks to his Fleming College education.

“Between labs and teaching, you’re ready to start as soon as you’ve finished the program,” said Josh, who graduated from Fleming’s Paramedic program in 2019 and General Arts and Science – College Health Science program (now called Pre-Health Sciences Pathway to Certificates and Diplomas) in 2017.

“My experience at Fleming was awesome. There’s an ambulance so you can practise driving, you can practise skills and scenarios anytime, graduates come back to give students feedback, and the faculty are fantastic.”

Josh decided to pursue this career after experiencing a hockey injury that led to paramedics arriving to help.

“I cut my leg badly playing hockey and the paramedics that came did an amazing job,” he explains. “To see how well they did their job and calmed everyone down made me want to do that one day.”

He took the General Arts and Science – College Health Science certificate to build a strong foundation before entering the competitive Paramedic program. He said this certificate helped him feel more prepared for the Paramedic program.

Now that Josh is working as a paramedic, he is certainly experiencing challenges amidst this global pandemic, however he feels confident in his skills and knowledge.

“I still enjoy it, but it is more stressful,” said Josh on working amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. “Before, I wouldn’t feel stressed by normal calls, it would be car accidents that would bring stress; Now, every call is stressful. We’re trying not to bring anything home to family and friends.”

Josh explains that 911 dispatchers do a COVID-19 screening call and, when paramedics arrive, they ask a series of questions to determine whether additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required, such as face shields, masks and gowns. If the patient may have COVID-19, paramedics report to the hospital and bring the patient to a designated arrival area by ambulance.

Another change due to the COVID-19 pandemic is that family members can no longer ride in the ambulance with patients.

“It’s been a learning curve,” said Josh. “We’re not running into scenes; we’re making sure we’re okay first by screening and wearing PPE. I think some of these changes will stay now that we’ve experienced this.”

His advice to others is to continue to be cautious. “Don’t go out unless you need to, wash your hands and, if you’re sick, stay home and get a family member to run your errands.”

Practical Nursing grad Ashley Davidson perseveres amidst pandemic

There is an eerie quiet and uneasiness as Ashley Davidson enters her workplace at Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. To enter the building, the Registered Practical Nurse must stand in line (spaced six feet apart from colleagues) at a designated staff entrance to answer screening questions.

“I feel more anxious going in the doors,” said Ashley, who works in the Pediatric Unit. “I have to wear a mask every day, which makes it harder to interact with people because it’s hard to hear what I’m saying through the mask. It’s also hard for me because I have asthma.”

Ashley is grateful for the generous PPE donations from the community that have helped to ensure she has the equipment she needs. She also shared that PRHC recently started providing hospital scrubs to its frontline healthcare workers to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 to the families of healthcare workers.

“This has been one of the scariest aspects to all of this: the possibility of bringing it home to family members. Although, since community cases have been popping up, we are all basically at equal risk of spreading it right now,” said Ashley, who is grateful for her family’s – and her work family’s – support during this unprecedented time. “It doesn’t seem to matter which unit you work on in the hospital either, so it’s so important to thoroughly wash your hands frequently!”

Although it is nerve-wracking, the Fleming College graduate said it is important for her to work in this field. “It’s what it’s all about, it’s what everyone in healthcare is here for. We’re helping people who can’t help themselves,” she explains.

Ashley aspired to work in healthcare since she was 10 years old, when her father was diagnosed with brain cancer. She grew up watching paramedics help her father during his seizures and sickness, which motivated her to pursue this career path.

“My dad has had brain cancer for 15 years and that really influenced my career choice,” said Ashley, who was also inspired by her mom for the adrenaline rush of the medical field.

“And I always knew I would go to Fleming because Fleming is a five-minute walk from my home and, with my dad being sick, I did not want to move far,” she explains.

Ashley enrolled in the General Arts and Science – College Health Science certificate program (now called “Pre-Health Sciences Pathway to Certificates and Diplomas”) to prepare for the competitive Paramedic program, which she was ecstatic to be accepted into after completing the certificate.

“I did well in preparatory Health Science and it helped with the transition into Paramedic, which I did for a bit,” said Ashley. “But while I was in the Paramedic program, I had a bad flare-up with my asthma in the winter and my doctor recommended this may not be the best path. I wanted to work in healthcare and I realized that nursing may be the best path for me. I believe that everything happens for a reason and I do think this ‘alternative’ is actually the better option for me.”

Ashley graduated from Fleming’s Practical Nursing program in 2017, consolidated in the Emergency Department at PRHC, and was later hired to work in the Integrated Stroke and Rehabilitation Unit. She also has experience working in Canterbury Gardens Retirement Residence and Central East Correctional Centre.

In January 2020, Ashley decided to gain experience and develop her skills in the Inpatient Women & Children Unit at PRHC, where she assesses mothers and babies after delivery, draws bloodwork on the newborns, monitors for low blood sugars, does PO/IV medication administration, IV insertion, catheter insertion and removal, gives baby baths, teaches breastfeeding and bottle feeding, conducts postpartum assessments, does phototherapy for newborns with jaundice, and takes care of post-gynecologic surgery patients as well.

“There’s a lot of teaching in this unit which I think is what I love best, because I really love teaching,” she said.

In addition to teaching new parents, Ashley also teaches nursing students for clinical experience and works as a Practical Nursing Tech at Fleming College.

“I always loved having students at PRHC and helping shape the way they look at the field, seeing how they learn and what they’re getting into,” said Ashley. “When I learned of this opportunity at Fleming College, it seemed pretty cool because it’s not a typical nursing job. The students inspired me to pursue it and it’s been a really positive experience.”

Ashley said she recommends this Fleming College program because of the amazing faculty and hands-on learning. Her advice to healthcare students is to get lots of experience and explore different areas of healthcare to discover the best fit for you.

And her advice to everyone is to “wash your hands! Stay home! Flatten the curve!” Adding, “I really hope this opens people’s eyes and reminds them to slow down a little bit and really take in each moment and be grateful for each day that we are given.”

Childhood hospital stay inspired Fleming grad Olivia Anderson to become a nurse

olivia-anderson-blog-photoOlivia Anderson was 13 years old when she decided she wanted to be a nurse. After being diagnosed with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, Olivia underwent an 11 hour surgery to have her spine fused with titanium rods. She was bedridden in the hospital for days, unable to shower due to the incision, so when a thoughtful nurse took the time to wash Olivia’s hair, it made Olivia feel especially grateful.

“It made me feel 100 times 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,” she said.

She enrolled in Fleming College’s Pre-Health Sciences Pathway to Certificates and Diplomas (Class of 2015), which led her to the Practical Nursing program (Class of 2017).

“I loved my time at Fleming and I felt I really made the most of it. I was quite engaged as a student, which is a testament to the environment on campus,” said Olivia. “The community there is something special to be a part of, and it made me want to get involved and give back.”

Olivia was elected three times to Fleming Student Administrative Council, which she credits for boosting her confidence, developing her leadership abilities, and strengthening her ability to advocate for the people around her. “As a nurse, you are an advocate for your patients because you are the one who is providing the hands-on care and really get to see the whole picture,” said Olivia, explaining why this skill is applicable to her career path.

While awaiting the results of her Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination, Olivia applied to work on contract as a Fleming College Grad Recruiter for fall 2017. “I wanted to talk to future students about what a great place Fleming is and what a great nursing program they have,” said Olivia, who was hired by the College to travel across Ontario speaking to a variety of audiences about Fleming programs, services and facilities.

“A skill I really developed during my time as a Grad Recruiter for Fleming was time management. Coordinating my day around appointments, distances between them, knowing how much time I would need to set up/tear down, as well as time to complete any paper work or prepare for future events. This really taught me to see the big picture of the day and not to focus solely on the small stuff,” she said. “As a nurse, there is so much to keep on your radar throughout the day when it comes to coordinating one person’s care, but on a regular day shift you can have four to five patients all requiring a lot of your attention.”

olivia-anderson-blog-photo-2At the end of her Grad Recruiter contract, Olivia was hired by Peterborough Regional Health Centre as a Registered Practical Nurse. She is responsible for the hands-on care of medical and surgical patients, including: medications, wound care, assistance with activities of daily living, administering treatments, performing assessments, providing education and support to patients and families during someone’s hospital stay, raising concerns about a patient to the multi-disciplinary team, and more.

“The best thing about it is that you are always engaged,” said Olivia. “There is never a moment at work where I am bored. I am always on my toes, always thinking about who needs what and when, and constantly reorganizing my day around any changes to the patient’s care plan.”

Her advice to current students is to ask lots of questions, take every opportunity to gain hands-on experience, and learn from those around you and their experience.

Olivia Anderson is excited to travel Ontario for Fleming College

olivia-andersonOlivia Anderson looks forward to sharing information about Fleming College with prospective students after she completed two programs at the college. Olivia was hired by Student Recruitment to work as a Grad Recruiter, travelling the province speaking to a variety of audiences about Fleming programs, services and facilities.

“I am really looking forward to meeting students interested in the Nursing program, and sharing my experience and advice with them on things I wish I had known before I started the program,” said Olivia, who took Fleming’s (what is now called the) Pre-Health Sciences Pathway to Certificates and Diplomas (2015), which led her to the Practical Nursing program (2017). “Hopefully I can make their transition into college an easier and more enjoyable experience.”

Olivia has wanted to be a Grad Recruiter since last year, when she saw Fleming College Facebook Page posts on the 2016 Grad Recruiters, Emily, Kyle and Kelly, and their adventures that fall.

“The idea of traveling Ontario, meeting perspective students and sharing my Fleming experience with them seems like an absolute blast to me,” she said. “I love Fleming, so I’m excited to inspire other students to come here and make the most of their college experience.”

One of the things Olivia loves most about Fleming College is the close-knit community. “I can’t walk through the halls without seeing someone I know and stopping for a quick chat. Everyone is very friendly here and it makes this campus a very enjoyable place to be,” she said. “The faculty here truly care about your success here and want to get to know you as more than just a number.”

Olivia also loves living in Peterborough, which she describes as having all of the amenities of a city but with a laid-back, natural environment. Her favourite spot on campus is the Student Administrative Council office, which has a beautiful view of the forest. “It also has a constant flow of people, so you can meet some very interesting people from many of the different programs in the school,” she added.

The best thing Olivia learned from Fleming College, she said, was that there is more to life than academics. “Which sounds funny since I learned this while attending an academic institution,” she said. “The opportunity to volunteer, travel, organize student events, be a voice for students, be a part of committees and more has taught me things no book could ever describe. I have learned many unteachable life skills through my experiences at Fleming, most of which took place outside of the classroom.”

Angelica Rumbaoa uses her love of helping others to pursue nursing

angelica-rumbaoa-nursingAngelica Rumbaoa always loved helping people, so she wanted to pursue a career in nursing. When Angelica was not accepted into the Practical Nursing program at Fleming College, she didn’t let that stop her from pursuing her dream; instead, Angelica enrolled in the General Arts and Science – College Health Science program to better prepare herself.

The General Arts and Science – College Health Science program, since renamed “Pre-Health Sciences Pathway to Certificates and Diplomas,” is a pathway program designed to prepare students for admission to college programs in health sciences, biological or chemical sciences. Fleming College has reserved spaces in the Practical Nursing, Pharmacy Technician, Paramedic, Health Information Management, and Occupational Therapist Assistant/Physiotherapist Assistant programs for qualified graduates.

“I gained a great amount of knowledge throughout the course I took in the General Arts and Sciences program,” said Angelica, who completed the program in 2015 and is currently in her first-semester of Practical Nursing. “It definitely prepared me for the Practical Nursing program, especially for anatomy and physiology. I gained some great friends in the General Arts and Sciences program, where we were able to stay friends in the Practical Nursing program. I also gained a good relationship with teachers who were able to write letters of recommendation and references for my resume.”

Angelica said she is enjoying the challenge of the Practical Nursing program at Fleming College, especially the hands-on experience. “We are in the middle of our clinical experience, and that alone is an amazing experience where I am in the real world doing a lot of things I have learned– and I am also learning from the experience.”

The Practical Nursing student said she is grateful for her experience in the General Arts and Sciences program. “The advantage of doing the pathway program to the Practical Nursing program would definitely be being exempt from courses you’ve done,” she said. “This lightens up your workload so you are able to focus on the core nursing classes. “

Angelica said she is enjoying the Fleming College community, where she is doing well socially and academically.