Welcome back! Find out about COVID-19, vaccinations, and returning to campus in Fall 2021. Learn more.

U of R nursing alumni share experiences: “It’s so much more than a job to me”

By Pat Redigar - Postmedia Content Works Posted: May 12, 2021 5:00 a.m.

“I’m making a difference in the lives of the people I meet. Even when the situation is less than ideal, I feel inspired to do more and to be more,” says Lana Moffatt, NP, RN.
“I’m making a difference in the lives of the people I meet. Even when the situation is less than ideal, I feel inspired to do more and to be more,” says Lana Moffatt, NP, RN. Photo: Provided by Lana Moffat

(this article was prepared by Postmedia on behalf of the University of Regina to mark National Nursing Week) 

As a Nurse Practitioner (NP) juggling caseloads in northern Saskatchewan Indigenous communities, and in particular, Stony Rapids, Lana Moffat has seen first-hand the impact that the pandemic is having on patients and their families every day. Although she faces stress and anxiety, she said there’s no place else that she would rather be. 

“I’m making a difference in the lives of the people I meet. Even when the situation is less than ideal, I feel inspired to do more and to be more. I’m always learning and growing and I feel as though I’ve never had to work a day in my life. It’s so much more than a job to me; it’s who I am,” said Moffat. 

She has been a Registered Nurse for 13 years and a NP since last October having completed the Collaborative Nurse Practitioner Program (CNPP), a collaborative program with the University of Regina and Saskatchewan Polytechnic. Moffat is an Indigenous student who became interested in CNPP because it enabled her to pursue her education in her own home and community. 

She was able to juggle her lifestyle, family and work demands through the program. In addition to online theory, CNPP consists of working with nurse practitioner preceptors and a week-long residency. The strong nurse practitioner preceptors helped set the foundation for her to build her career and helped develop life-long friends. 

Last year Moffat convocated with a Master’s Degree in Nursing, which helped give her new tools to deal with the pandemic. While the program was challenging, she said it was also one of her proudest accomplishments. She added that the program’s family atmosphere and clinical experiences helped pave the way for her to cope with the pandemic. 

“In the beginning it was so new and scary as things changed for us in the blink of an eye,” she said. “As health care workers, we have been both glorified and scrutinized in the public eye. We have been confused, terrified and challenged by a virus that we don’t really understand. One of the most difficult things for me was where we once offered a hug to a grieving or scared family member, we can now only nod our heads and show them the compassion and support in our eyes.” 

As the pandemic continued, Moffat said she began to see more critically ill people of all ages. Initially, there were no clear cut paths to manage or treat the disease as the virus reacted differently in different people. There was a huge learning curve as health care professionals struggled to find the best options to treat their patients. 

As a NP in a small community, Moffat knew many of the patients or their family members. Patients were often stabilized and then medically evacuated to larger hospitals that had dedicated COVID-19 facilities. She added there have been many dedicated health care workers who are working directly with affected patients, while others have been administering tests and vaccinations. 

“I’ve had ebbs and flows during the outbreak. The workload has intensified and then it stays steady for days then weeks. Then there are times that I can catch my breath, reflect on what worked and what didn’t work, and then plan and prepare for the next wave.” 

Moffat said she finally saw a positive development when the first vaccines were announced. She felt that a big weight had lifted off her shoulders when she received her vaccination and that it was important for her to lead by example. 

Despite the challenges of being a nurse in the pandemic, Moffat encourages young people to consider nursing as a career. She has enjoyed her experiences in northern Saskatchewan and became a NP to help bridge the gap in services that some of the communities experience. 

Another graduate, Dakota Wagner, has experienced similar workplace upheavals due to the pandemic. She completed the Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing (SCBScN) program, offered in collaboration with the University of Regina and Saskatchewan Polytechnic. The SCBScN has a presence on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 territories and the homeland of the Métis, and it strives to support Indigenous students to complete their Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The program designates 53 seats for Indigenous students out of the 345 seats available during the first year. 

Wagner completed her undergraduate degree in 2016 and now works as an oncology nurse at the Pasqua Hospital in Regina. Shortly after the pandemic began, patients were advised that they would have to reduce the number of family members that could accompany them to their treatments. As the pandemic worsened, that was reduced to one visitor and finally no visitors were allowed. Now nurses like Wagner have had to assume the role of family member for these patients.

05-121.jpg

The Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor
of Science in Nursing (SCBScN) program is
offered through a joint partnership between
the University of Regina and Saskatchewan
Polytechnic.
Photo: Courtesy of the Faculty of Nursing

 

“We’re kind of the nurse, the caregiver, the support person and the social worker,” said Wagner. “It’s kind of exhausting but we’ve really gotten to know the patients, which is my favourite part about nursing.” 

Although nurses have always played a supportive role for their patients, the pandemic has really accentuated that role. Although nurses have received some additional support to prepare for this role, Wagner said that for the most part they are figuring it out as they go along. 

There have been other changes at the hospital. Initially nurses were restricted to their wards as the risk of transmission to other wards was considered too high. That’s now been relaxed as the increase in patients has meant that nurses have to be prepared to switch to the areas of greatest demand. Nurses also have to wear face shields, goggles and masks, and keep on top of changing health protocols. 

Although the new protocols are necessary, they can be difficult for oncology patients. “A lot of our patients are nauseous, fatigued and have high temperatures, which are all COVID symptoms. We have to follow the standard to make sure it’s not COVID so if we have patients who have been here for three months, they might have been swabbed for COVID on multiple occasions. We can’t rule out that it’s chemo-related or COVID-related,” she said. 

Despite the increase in workload and the stress and anxiety from the pandemic, Wagner said that nursing is still a great career option. 

“It’s really rewarding to see a patient come in who’s really sick and then you do so many things to help them out. A week later you see them walking around, laughing and ready to go home. It’s challenging, but it’s so rewarding,” she said. 

  • (Material republished with the express permission of: Regina Leader-Post , a division of Postmedia Network Inc.)

The Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing (SCBScN) is offered through a joint partnership between Saskatchewan Polytechnic and University of Regina, with campuses in Regina and Saskatoon. Both campuses also offer the After Degree Nursing Program (ADNP), which allows applicants who hold a degree in another field to complete the SCBScN program in six consecutive terms (two calendar years). 

The Collaborative Nurse Practitioner Program (CNPP) is a full-time, two-year graduate program offered through the University of Regina and Saskatchewan Polytechnic, and leads to a Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) degree. The University of Regina grants the degree and the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research guides all academic matters in the program. 

Related

Dr. Cheryl Pollard appointed as U of R’s new Dean of Nursing

Video exam project brings nursing class together, while teaching and learning from home

In crisis or calm: U of R Faculty of Nursing reimagines programs; celebrates profession