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.”

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.”

Practical Nursing student prepares to take the plunge

rachel-warrenRachel Warren does not like the cold. The fourth-semester Practical Nursing student is known to wear a sweater on a hot summer night, which is why it surprised Rachel’s friends and family when she signed up for the 25th Annual Polar Plunge in Campbellford, Ont.

The Polar Plunge is Saturday, Jan. 28, and is hosted by the Auxiliary to Campbellford Memorial Hospital. The Hospital is fundraising for a PACS (Picture Archive and Communication System ) Workstation and a Cystoscope (a tube with a camera on the end to aid internal medicine procedures).

“My friends and family all thought I was crazy for doing something like this. I mean they’re not wrong, I will be jumping into a frozen river in the middle of winter!” said Rachel, who heard about the Plunge through an email sent by an instructor to nursing students. “I thought it was a great thing to do. The fundraiser is raising money for a good cause– and also it is on my bucket list to do a Polar Plunge.”

Rachel persuaded her boyfriend to join and they will plunge as Team The Freezing Ice Holes. “He’s very supportive,” said Rachel, adding that they are busy creating costumes to wear to the event.

Participating in the Polar Plunge for a hospital fundraiser seems like a natural fit for Rachel, who is in the Practical Nursing program at Fleming College.

“My childhood best friend’s mom is a nurse. She always came home so happy and would tell us all the positive and rewarding things that happened during her day. She inspired me,” said Rachel on why she decided to pursue a nursing career. “I wanted to have a job where I was that happy. As I got older, I realized I loved helping and caring for people.”

Rachel said she chose Fleming College because she heard positive things about the program. “I heard lots of people were successful in the program and were able to find jobs after graduating,” she said. “In addition, clinical was started right away in the first semester, which I thought was great because I am a hands-on learner and clinical placements are the best for that.”

The Fleming College student is looking forward to taking a break from her studies next week to take the Polar Plunge—and to get out of the water. “To be honest, I am looking forward to getting warm after the Plunge,” she joked. “I am also looking forward to seeing how much everyone was able to raise for the Hospital.”

Rachel encourages other to support the cause by donating a dollar or two. “Anything helps, really,” she said.

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.