Did you know that The Alex employs nearly fifty nurses (LPN’s, RN’s, and Nurse Practitioners)? Our nursing staff are essential to the services at The Alex, and in the spirit of International Nurses Day (May 12), and Canadian Nursing Week (May 8-14), we sat down to talk with two of our amazing team members: Jennifer Campbell, our CHC Clinic Manager, and Jennifer Eyford, our Associate Director for Mental Health, Addictions and Outreach to talk about their experiences.
What made you decide to go into Nursing?
Jenn C: When I was initially looking into careers, nursing jumped out to me. What made me really excited was just the multifaceted nature of the career across so many different fields, as well as the sheer growth potential in the field. I went to school for nursing and never looked back.
Jen E: Prior to becoming a nurse, I had a career in mental health working with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). I loved my work there, but I realized I was limited in my practice. During that time, I was also working with a nurse, and that inspired me to go back to school and get my nursing degree as a mature student. Sixteen years later, I have yet to regret that decision.
What appealed to you about working at The Alex?
Jen E: I had worked with The Alex in my previous role, and I really admired and enjoyed the collaboration. I thought it would be an amazing place to work as a brand-new grad. Back then, Community Mental Health Nursing was exactly what I wanted to do and is still something that I’m deeply passionate about.
Jenn C: I had recently moved back to Calgary from Chicago, and I really liked the population that we work with at The Alex. It seemed like a natural fit.
Can you describe the roles that nurses play at The Alex?
Jenn C: They play a large role in The Alex, from outreach, to Pathways, to RAAM. They’re in nearly every program that we offer.
Jen E: I see nurses as Jack & Jills’ of all trade. They provide case management, leadership, crisis intervention, mental health support, primary care, and teach our community members about their health. They’re vital members of The Alex team.
Can you let us know a bit more about some of the services that nurses provide in The Alex?
Jenn C: In the CHC, we have LPN’s, and they do patient education, wound care, they do some booked appointments for UTI/STI screening, ear flushing, contraception starts, bloodwork, and basically a lot of patient education. If a patient can’t see their doctor and have questions, it’s the nurse on the front lines for primary healthcare, helping the patient from crisis to wellness.
Jen E: Out of the programs and teams that I provide support to, the nurses work with our Community Mobile Crisis Response (CMCR), Mobile Health Clinic (MHC) and Rapid Access Addictions Medicine (RAAM) teams. It really speaks to the versatility that nurses bring to the table. At CMCR, our nurses provide crisis support, intervention, and community resources. In RAAM they provide addiction assessment and support, and Jenn C mentioned some of the work that goes on in the clinics. We provide the same services in our mobile clinic that we do at the primary Community Health Centre.
What do you both think are the biggest misconceptions about nursing?
Jenn C & Jen E: That they have a narrow scope in their duties, nurses need to know a little or a lot about everything in community care. They need to know mental health, wound care, de-escalation, community resources and so many more things. Nurses aren’t “just a nurse” They are there with you beside you and walking with you from crisis to wellness.
What do you both think are the most important things for people to know for International Nurses Day and Canadian National Nursing Week?
Jen E: Nurses are the quarterbacks of healthcare, and not only an essential part of our teams in The Alex, but throughout health care teams in general. We’re trained to work highly collaboratively. We really enjoy working as part of the multidisciplinary healthcare team, because all roles are vital and important.
Jenn C: Nurses are the backbone for many of our programs. We must know so much about various topics, and we love that. We understand how patients get the best care when they get team care, and endeavour to foster an environment where everyone is respected and heard.