The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the courage and commitment that nurses work under every day and showed the important role that nurses play in the community. The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) has themed National Nursing Week 2021 #WeAnswerTheCall to showcase the many roles nurses play in a patient’s health-care journey. In recognition of National Nursing Week, the University of Lethbridge is honoured to share a sampling of stories from our nursing students, alumni and faculty to showcase how they, and nurses everywhere, answer the call.

To all nurses, we say thank you.

“The most incredible feeling in the world is coming home after a shift or rotation, knowing that your actions made a positive difference in someone whose world is upside down. This is why I answered the call.”

Richard Camacho
uLethbridge nursing student

Why did you choose nursing?

I chose nursing because of a life experience that changed me. My stepfather was diagnosed with end stage pancreatic cancer and opted for home palliation. During the process, I was tasked with providing him bedside care when the homecare nurse was unavailable. I learned a lot of valuable skills and realized that I could make a difference in someone’s world if I became a nurse. From then on, I decided to dedicate my education to nursing.

Who has inspired on your journey. Why and how?

I’ve been fortunate to have been inspired by many nurses in my journey so far. These nurses have challenged me to not only discuss the positive changes that I’d like to see in my community, but to take action and work within a team setting to achieve them. Additionally, I’ve found a passion in nursing research thanks to the instructors in the NESA program.

What has your education experience been like at uLethbridge?

I wanted to do everything to learn as much as possible during my undergraduate education, so I sought out mentors that would aid me in my learning process in these research and leadership. I became involved in nursing research during my first year with a nursing professor where I learned foundational skills in qualitative research methods. Outside of school, my research skills allowed me to obtain an internship with the health charity, MitoCanada, during the Summer of 2020 to help develop a patient registry for the organization. Additionally, the program at uLethbridge helped me develop my leadership skills, which lead me to becoming President of the Nursing Students’ Association from 2020-2021.

What has it been like studying nursing during the pandemic?

The intensive and high-quality education at NESA taught me that nurses need to be able to adapt and overcome adversity, regardless of what circumstance they are presented with. When the pandemic hit, I was challenged to switch my traditional learning methods to virtual learning. Two key traits that have allowed me to succeed in my studies during the pandemic include being a self-centered and life-long learner. Being able to study during the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise because I have been able to apply theoretical concepts to practice in real time. Concepts from my community and clinical courses this year directly applied to my work settings as a COVID screener at the hospital and immunizer in my community.

How did you get connected with the Alberta Provincial Nursing Association? What role will you play on the board? Why are you excited for this opportunity?

I read online that CARNA was forming an Inaugural Board of Directors for the new association in late 2020. I was recommended by a colleague and friend of mine to apply. I took note that they were inclusive in the application process by encouraging nursing students to apply, which was great! With my previous board experience at Friends of Chinook Regional Hospital Society, a non-profit organization, and my passion for nursing leadership, I decided to apply. Thankfully, I was accepted to become the student representative and inaugural board member for the Alberta Provincial Nursing Association. My role as an inaugural board member and student representative will be to participate as an integral team member to assist in the continued formation of the new association, from policy development to student leadership and advocacy. I am excited for this opportunity because it is historical in the context of nursing in Alberta, and I have a privilege to be a part of it as a nursing student early on in my career. The leadership skills that I have obtained from uLethbridge’s NESA program have allowed me to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to prepare me for this new endeavour within my nursing journey.

What advice would you share with anyone wanting to pursue a career in nursing?

Nursing is a career for those that want to be challenged and feel inspired. Nursing is at its most defining moment yet- the pandemic has revealed the broad and extensive role that nurses play in the healthcare setting and there has never been a better time to be part of the growing movement of Canadians wanting to make a difference. Nursing school gives you the skills to identify areas that require innovation. During my time as a nursing student, I have worked in nursing research, interned with a health charity to develop a blueprint for a clinical and patient registry, engaged with board of directors in two organizations, and now I am serving a pivotal and important role as a COVID screener and immunizer in my community. The important question for anyone to consider when entering nursing is: Are you ready for one of the most diverse and rewarding careers imaginable? If so, I encourage you to apply and step into a world life-long learning, you won’t regret it.

The theme for this year’s National Nursing Week is, #WeAnswerTheCall. What does that phrase mean to you?

The answer differs from person to person entering the profession. It means to invest your time and energy into an education that requires the absolute best out of you and shapes you to become a life-long learner; it means to take up the mantle and recognize that you are an integral part of the nursing community, regardless of where you are starting. I answered the call because it is a passion for me. I do no regret going into this field and it has been the best decision of my life. The most incredible feeling in the world is coming home after a shift or rotation, knowing that your actions made a positive difference in someone whose world is upside down. This is why I answered the call.