Bow Valley College Alumni Adapt On The Front Lines Of The Pandemic

As Canada honours the contributions of nurses during National Nursing Week, Patience Muchena has some words of advice for Practical Nurse Diploma students at Bow Valley College. 

“You are studying to do meaningful work that makes a difference in peoples’ lives,” says the alumna of the program, who graduated in February 2019.

“There's probably going to be sweat and tears, but that’s all worth it.”

Since June 2019, Muchena has been working in Whitehorse, Yukon as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). She has a casual position at the Whitehorse General Hospital and a full-time position in a long-term care home. 

Whitehorse identified its first case of COVID-19 after the big Canadian cities had seen numerous cases. But regardless of location, she notes this pandemic is not like anything she and her nursing colleagues have had to deal with in their careers. 

“It’s affecting everyone, and not only the essential workers,” she says. “We have residents who had visitors come in every day and support them, and [now] it’s hard on them to not have anyone come visit them. We do have technology in place for them to do FaceTime calls, but that’s all different for them.”

Elisha Hollar, a Practical Nurse Diploma alumna from Bow Valley College’s Airdrie campus, said the pandemic “has changed the way we do every aspect of our jobs.”

“You have to re-learn some major aspects of nursing to keep yourself and others safe,” she says. 

In Sundre, where she works at the hospital in the acute care and emergency departments, employees are staying on top of continually changing policies.

“Wearing a mask all shift has been a challenge and not very comfortable,” she says. “It makes the everyday interactions with patients a bit more of a challenge, but even that is starting to become ‘normal’ to us.”

Hollar says nurses have played an essential role in controlling the spread of COVID-19. 

“We are constantly changing the way we care for patients, adapting to keep everyone safe. We change the process for people who access the hospital so that we can make accessing the hospital a safe experience for everyone. We help to teach others how to stop the spread, and we lead by example.”

Muchena recalls the advice of one of her nursing instructors at Bow Valley College — to learn from the heart. Now she wants to share that message with Practical Nurse Diploma students.

“Learning from the heart has prepared me for my role as a nurse,” she says. 

“I would love to give them the same advice. Learn from the heart, and you will always find yourself prepared. This does not mean you will not make mistakes, or not find yourself overwhelmed or scared, it just means in the midst of all that chaos, if you take a step back, take a deep breath, and compose yourself, you will come back strong.”

Patience Muchena was Bow Valley College’s Ambassador for the 24th Annual Premier’s Scholarship Luncheon. View her story below.

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