Aug. 12, 2022
Flex Friday: Jessica Doiron
For this week’s Flex Friday, we’re celebrating Jessica Doiron, a degree-holder student beginning Term 8 this fall. Jessica currently holds a degree in kinesiology and graduated in 2015 after attending school in Nova Scotia. While she initially wanted a career in physiotherapy, she decided on nursing after several good experiences with nurses caring for her grandmother. Meet Jessica!
What has school been like as a degree-holder?
Jessica described that the program could be quite stressful and was very condensed. “With direct and transfer students, at least you get the four months of summer. For us, it’s a lot busier and we only have July and August off.”
Jessica shared that returning to school after six years was difficult as she had to re-learn how to study and maintain good habits.
That was probably the most challenging - learning how to study again and how to study effectively.
Jessica was also part of the same cohort that grieved Ryan Hunter in October 2021, a fellow student. “It was during the week that we had three midterms and it was just ridiculous,” she explained. “Everyone was super stressed to begin with and it was brutal for most people.” She shared that the faculty was very understanding of their situation although it certainly became overwhelming as the semester progressed.
How has clinical been throughout your studies?
In Term 3, Jessica was placed with Morley Community Center. “It was all online, but it was still a lot of fun,” she said. “That group became really strong because it was our first introduction to the program.” For Term 5, Jessica started at Foothills Medical Centre (FMC) on unit 41A, an orthosurgery unit where she currently works. She also has experience on Unit 36 at FMC and Unit 66 at South Health Campus, where she was instructed by UCalgary Nursing instructor Megan Keszler. “She pushes you really hard and you learn a lot from her,” Jessica said. Finally, in Term 7, she worked on Unit 49, a pulmonary unit at the Peter Lougheed Centre.
When asked about her favorite term, Jessica said: “I think they were all really great. Because we had online theory classes for so long, actually seeing people in-person really forged connections.”
Reflecting on school during the COVID lockdown, Jessica added that “we were so afraid of getting COVID in Term 4 because we were told that if we missed a certain amount of time, we’d have to defer,” she explained. “I cut off all ties with my family. But at a certain point, you can’t do that for 10 months on-end.”
What are some of your clearest memories from clinical?
“I was thrown into my first code on my second day of clinical on Unit 66,” Jessica said. “We walked onto the unit to a Code Blue being called and it was my patient. Megan threw me in the room and I watched the intubation.
“We came back from break, and my buddy’s patient was coding,” she said, recalling another memory. Jessica remembered having to take over her buddy’s patients while they were in the code and it became an almost-impossible shift. “Megan made a meme for me,” she laughed. “It was great.”
What kind of nursing would you do in the future?
“I really do like surgical. With my kinesiology background, it’s like my bread and butter.” Jessica explained that having a degree in Kinesiology has really helped her feel more confident throughout nursing. “Having some kind of clinical experience going into the first couple semesters – it helps you feel like you’re not floundering as much. You know how to build relationships with clients.”
Jessica is also interested in palliative care, as well as oncology, where she’s hoping to be placed next term. When it comes to working at the bedside or functioning more administratively, Jessica described she would enjoy both. “I feel like every nurse is going to burn out doing bedside and I think they’re actually moving RNs away from the bedside.” She explained that it’s important to find a balance between the two elements of nursing. Rather than instructing later in her career, Jessica has considered becoming a nurse educator. “You’re teaching nurses on the unit and you’re also teaching patients,” she explained.
What other work has prepared you for nursing?
Jessica worked as a kinesiologist at a physiotherapy clinical for several years where she saw up to 40 patients daily, creating exercise programs for them.
Jessica is also conducting research this summer with faculty members Amanda O’Rae and Zahra Shajani, in collaboration with UCalgary Social Work. “We’re learning about work-integrated learning and how we can make it an inter-professional collaboration between social work and nursing.” Her research looks into how the faculty can have clinical placements online that are rural and how to make long-term care and community placements efficient and effective.
Additionally, Jessica is working as an Undergraduate Nurse Employee (UNE) on Unit 54 and 41A at FMC. “You have the support you need and they’re all super willing to help,” she said. Commenting on the importance of a supportive work environment, she added: “I think what’s great about UCalgary is they take our comments and concerns about the unit we’re on very seriously. They’ve found units that are accepting of students and that’s where they put us for placements.”
What has your experience with burnout been throughout school?
“Term 5 and 6 really did me in,” Jessica admitted. “We only had two months, and I had no idea what I was getting into.” Jessica also lost a loved one in January of 2022, right before beginning Term 6, which made things quite challenging.
“It’s hard because you have to build coping mechanisms that you’re confident in using,” she said. “I knit and it’s like meditation for me. Sometimes I’ll knit and watch TV or listen to a podcast.” Jessica also emphasized the importance of having support people in your life who can empathize with you, especially those who can share your experiences.
Was nursing everything you expected?
“For the most part it was what I expected,” Jessica shared. “There’s always those things that I didn’t know we did. Our scope of practice is just so huge. We’re a counselor, we’re a physio – we do a little bit of everything."
I didn’t realize how many different opportunities there are as a nurse. You get bored or you don’t like where you’re at and you can adjust and move. Don’t stay in a spot where your mental and physical health aren’t being treated the same.
Advice to incoming students?
“Don’t be afraid! Just do it. If you’re a degree holder, you might think that you’re old, but you’re not,” Jessica said. “You take out of it what you put in. If you go in to learn and you take the initiative to find the opportunities to learn, then you’re going to learn more. If you don’t have patients that need dressings, go find patients that have dressings.”
Best place to study on campus? “Probably the library.”
Plans for the summer? “We’ve been to Glacier National Park. Other than that, just reading, knitting, relaxing and watching TV.”
Biggest role models? “My one grandmother raised 14 children, and nine of them were boys. My other grandmother lived in Calgary with six kids and she taught me to knit and how to be a good person.”
Thanks for your time Jessica!