Toronto nurse who graduated from BCIT has practical advice about going into the profession

BARRY HORECZY
POSTMEDIA NEWS

Gurleen Gill

Gurleen Gill, 28, just marked her five-year anniversary as a registered nurse. She was born in New Delhi and emigrated to Canada from India at age six with her parents. Jennifer Roberts/For Postmedia News

Gurleen Gill, a Toronto-based community nurse, has some straightforward advice for anyone thinking of going into nursing as a career.

“Go into it for the right reasons and really pace yourself and know your limits,” she says. “It’s easy to get burned out in nursing. Understand how much you should do … Find out what you love about nursing, get in touch with what your skills are and what you’re strong at and see if it coincides what it takes to be a nurse.”

Gill, 28, just marked her five-year anniversary as a registered nurse. She was born in New Delhi and emigrated to Canada from India at age six with her parents. She says empathy for her patients has been crucial to sustaining her in her career since graduating from the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby, B.C.

“I don’t want to be biased, but you do see nurses that sometimes go into nursing because of the pure opportunities or just because with nursing as a profession you’re guaranteed a job after you finish school.”

But she says this isn’t necessarily a practical approach to a demanding job. “You can get jaded easily and you see that in the way it affects the care. Do it for the right reasons: you really want to help people. You love health care. You don’t mind really putting your heart into this, you don’t mind giving as much as you possibly can. It’s a lot to ask of people, but nursing is part of that and it’s a very fulfilling career.”

Nurses are in high demand across Canada, with a plethora of opportunities and starting salaries approaching $60,000 for unionized registered nurses.

“Nurses are one of the most in-demand health care professions because they are needed everywhere,’’ says Barb Mildon, president of the Canadian Nurses Association. “The nursing profession carries a wide range of possibilities. Nurses are found in all sectors of the health-care system — hospital, home care, long-term care, community clinics, family health teams and public health — and in many different roles — clinical practice, administration, human resources, government, research, education, and more. With all of these possibilities, nursing is a career for life.”

Doris Grinspun, chief executive officer of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, says life as a nurse has been wonderful for her.

“There are so many advantages (to going into nursing) I could go on for hours. I have been in the profession for many years and I would choose it all over again,” Grinspun says. “You absolutely make a difference in the lives of people and communities, whether it is in the lives of patients at difficult times or at happy times and all between in the lives of the patients and their families. Or it could be at the community level working in public health and all the way into the international community.

“The rate of influence and impact that you have on people’s lives is tremendous and the satisfaction that comes together with that is beautiful.”

Helena Myllykoski, associate professor at Mount Royal University’s School of Nursing in Calgary, says that unfortunately she sees many people enter the profession for the wrong reasons.

“There’s plenty of non-caring people that thrive in nursing in terms of what their agendas are,” said Myllykoski. “They make good money, they have flexibility in their work, they get to move around. They might not really give a fiddler’s fart about somebody. But to enjoy the work, to make it meaningful, that’s where the caring comes in.

“I’m hopeful that people will grow as they move through their own lives, that they’ll grow into that deeper thinker, that involved professional who deeply cares. And sometimes life has to happen to them for them to develop that empathy.”





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