My name is Joy Hill and I came to Stenberg College in an unexpected way. I previously worked in healthcare as a Nurse’s Aide and a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) with a practice primarily focused on mental health and addictions. But a workplace injury changed everything, and I had to reconsider my career.
After a great deal of thought and with hopes of staying in a hospital setting, I decided to retrain as a Nursing Unit Clerk (NUC). I love the activity and energy of the hospital, so this seemed like the most natural transition with the physical limitations I live with today. I decided to join Stenberg and began the program in September.
With this newest batch of NUCs well into the program, I thought it might be a great time to reflect on where everyone was when we started the program, and how the journey of our Nursing Unit Clerks is going.
The early days were filled with nerves and bundled with fears as a group of women and one man came together for one common goal – to do something new with our lives. Our backgrounds, future goals and motivations for enrolling in Stenberg were very different but the common thread that brought us together was a united hope for a different life.
Frank Kathwaroon instructed our first class and instead of talking about the course, he started a conversation about everyone’s favourite vegetables and colours. We were all surprised but jumped right in and started sharing. There were cucumbers (a fruit, to be sure), plenty of love for black, and underlying it all, a collective nervousness about the next few months. We were taking the first step towards building a team that would succeed in the months to come.
In the first week, we created a manifesto for learning that would become the glue for our learning environment. It was decided that everyone would support one another in a fair and non-judgemental way. We would become a family determined to succeed with respect for one another. Most importantly, we would have fun! By the end of that first week, the mood was lighter and everyone was more relaxed.
Up next was a whole lot of typing practice. Since Frank was leading, we felt more encouraged. For many, discovering that they were typing at 10 or 15 words a minute was a little discouraging, especially since our goal was to be closer to 50 words per minute. Fortunately, the collective determination and perseverance we had cultivated at the start of the program kicked in and the NUCs hit a home run.
I still cherish memories of Frank telling us this module was our honeymoon and our next instructor and the rest of the program would not be as easy on us. The questions and worries resurfaced. What would the next class be like? What was the new instructor going to be like? We were terrified. Our feelings of success were quickly slipping away into brand new monumental fears about our upcoming module, Anatomy and Physiology with Wendy Scott.
Most of us knew nothing about this subject. It might have been a refresher course for a few students but it was daunting nevertheless. Elevator chats revolved around imagined futures of sleepless nights and weekends buried under our studies. WhatsApp was bursting with messages about what the future held. Would we be able to keep up with the course load or were we surely done for this time?
Invariably, Monday rolled around and as expected, Wendy came and dropped a huge load of work on our desks. It was more paper than most of us had seen in a very long time. Flipping through handouts filled with foreign languages, mind-blowing diseases, and piles upon piles of worksheets was truly terrifying. But it was hard to stay nervous for long when Wendy turned out to be so easygoing and encouraging.
None of us felt ready for the two quizzes in the first two weeks but the manifesto we drew up seemed to be working. Our commitment to make the Nursing Unit Clerk journey together and support one another kicked in. The piles of flashcards grew and we began breaking off into impromptu study groups. The best part was how our classmate kept us laughing by announcing that she was not happy about all the work and tests.
At the end of those first two weeks, we passed both tests and learned to laugh together as we buckled into the rhythm and pace of the course. Sure, the papers piled up. But everyone got through it one chapter at a time.
When Wendy informed us that she had considerably higher expectations from our next presentation, which was going to be thirty minutes long, I thought back to Frank’s class and those five long minutes of what felt like unending terror. In a collective roar, every voice rang out, ‘How can we ever manage to do this successfully?’ We were sure we were going to fail. Once again, Wendy reassured us. She believed that we were more than capable and helped us put our fears aside. The weeks wore on and everyone drowned a little, but we accomplished our tasks. Our presentations were amazing and everyone far exceeded the thirty minutes we were allotted.
Our confidence was soaring because midterms had come and gone, grades were high, and no one was left behind. The NUCs neared the end of this difficult module and supported one another every step of the way.
With two weeks left in the Anatomy and Physiology course, just as we’re prepping for Communications and Pharmacology, Wendy drops another presentation and a pile of medication names. I think we’re all feeling a little relieved though since we can look back and feel quite proud that we’ve already made it this far in our journey as Nursing Unit Clerks.