Nursing grads to the rescue
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/06/2022 (363 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Heather Milan knows it can be a tough slog on the ward working beside nurses who are overstretched and pulling double shifts, but she can’t wait to join them to care for Manitoba patients.
“It feels a little bit intimidating entering a profession that’s described as challenging and stressful, and that’s kind of the mindset,” the 23-year-old said.
“But we all went into this profession for a reason, to help people.”
She was one of 106 new nurses who put on their pins and recited a pledge to devote themselves to patient care on Thursday, in one of the first in-person post-secondary grad ceremonies in three years.
The atmosphere in the Pinnacle Club at the IG Field stadium was excited.
Netha Dyck, the dean of the college of nursing at the University of Manitoba, noted their monumental achievement at a difficult time.
“Congratulations on your remarkable and inspiring achievements and service contributions, particularly given that they were achieved amidst the challenges of COVID-19… You are no longer one of our students, you are now one of our esteemed nursing colleagues,” Dyck said.
Ninety-seven per cent of U of M nursing graduates find a job in Manitoba.
In Milan’s case, she has taken a job in the urgent care ward at Seven Oaks hospital.
“I would like to see change in Manitoba’s health care, so I’d like to be part of that,” she told the Free Press after the ceremony.
It was “frustrating at times” to witness the nursing shortage during her time as a student. Seven Oaks was generally well-staffed during her practicum, she said, but some of her colleagues were pressured to act as registered nurses despite still being students because hospitals were so short-staffed.
“I did see it in the hospitals, lots of disgruntled nurses. There was some positive excitement with the new contract last year, but still you do see it, especially with the older nurses, we saw a lot of nurses retiring and not so happy in their profession now,” she said.
To add to the pressure, many of the seasoned nurses had retired early because they were so exhausted. As a result, rookie nurses were responsible for training students.
“There was frustration, and I know a lot of people were deterred away from working in certain units like emergency and urgent care,” she said.
On Thursday, she was happy to celebrate after six years of schooling, before her career gets going.
“It feels amazing,” she said.
“We’ve all worked so hard. Blood, sweat and tears into this degree – but we’re finally here.”
To address the critical nursing shortage, the university plans to add 120 spots a year to its college, starting in 2023. It would increase the number of annual spots to 360 students.
“Given the critical nursing shortage in Manitoba, we will not only continue to deliver quality programming, we will expand our capacity,” Dyck told the students.
Convocations across the province this year were largely held in-person for the first time since 2019 – the University of Winnipeg’s two days of convocation ceremonies began Thursday at the Duckworth Centre and was livestreamed.
Red River College Polytech’s grad powwow was in-person May 6, and the college’s spring convocation will be held in person June 13-14. Virtual grads from the past two years will also get their own in-person ceremony on June 22 at the Centennial Concert Hall.
At Brandon University, the tradition of in-person convocation began again, and a recent tradition continued — graduates received an art piece with their degree, this year a depiction of Kavanagh Courtyard on campus, which represents the return to in-person learning. The practice began in 2020 as celebrations were relegated to the virtual world. BU keeps the original piece as part of its art collection and will continue to search for a new local artist to provide grad artwork yearly.
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Updated on Thursday, June 9, 2022 5:15 PM CDT: Adds photos.