I graduated from the University of British Columbia School of Nursing in 1992. It was during my time as a student that I had a pivotal experience with the ostomy nurse at Vancouver General hospital; after spending time with her I knew I wanted to be an ostomy nurse, as well.
Working as a general duty nurse on Medical and Surgical wards at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and UBC Hospital helped me build a foundation in nursing. In 1996, I completed the Emory University Wound, Ostomy, and Continence (WOC) Nursing program. Upon my return to Vancouver, I joined the Enterostomal Therapy (ET) Nursing team at VGH. Although the nurse who inspired me to take the WOC program was no longer on staff, I had the opportunity to hone my skills with some amazing mentors. In 1999, I took on the role of ET nurse at Surrey Memorial Hospital.
2002 brought the new role of motherhood and I put aside nursing for a few years. Although I love being a mother, I always knew I would return to nursing. From 2015-2017 I attended the Thompson Rivers University Return to Registered Nursing program, graduating in 2017. This allowed me the privilege of joining the inspiring team of nurses at the Ostomy Care and Supply Centre in September 2017.
During the early days of my ostomy nursing, I met Andy Manson at one of the BC ET meetings. I was intrigued by the concept of being able to spend 30-60 minutes with each client. Working in an Acute Care environment, I was unable to provide such dedicated time to my clients on a regular basis. The early hospital recovery period for clients can be overwhelming and confusing. In the clinic setting at Ostomy Care and Supply Centre, I have the opportunity to spend individualized time with clients and their families in a private room, not just behind a curtain, without the noise of call bells.
Often I am asked if I have an ostomy myself. I don’t, but I selfishly choose to be an ostomy nurse to see the transformation in people becoming independent, moving from an ostomy patient to a person living life who happens to have an ostomy.