HHS placements inspire practical nursing students
Mohawk College student Faith MacRae comes from a long line of nurses with deep connections to Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS). Her grandmother, Yvonne Van Wyngaarden, enjoyed a long career at HHS’ Hamilton General Hospital. And her mother, Louise MacRae, is a nurse by profession who moved into management and is now director of regional neurosciences and the medicine program for HHS.
“I’m from a family of nurses, and I’ve known since I was little that I wanted to help people.” — Faith MacRae, Mohawk College practical nursing student
MacRae, 20, graduates from Mohawk’s practical nursing program this December. From January to this month, her studies have included a placement at HHS’ St. Peter’s Hospital (SPH) for hands-on experience.
Hamilton Health Sciences offers approximately 1,500 student nursing placements each year for practical nursing, baccalaureate nursing and masters nursing students. Practical nursing students study at the college level, and their HHS placements focus on skill development in medical units.
Once MacRae earns her diploma, she plans to pursue a bachelor of science in nursing at McMaster University.
Inspired by family
“I’m from a family of nurses, and I’ve known since I was little that I wanted to help people,” says MacRae, a Hamilton resident who would like to one day follow in her family’s footsteps by working at HHS. Her other career goals include seeing the world as a travel nurse.
“I like to dream big, and I think it would be very rewarding to help people in other countries and learn how other health-care systems are run.” Travel nurses take contract work in hospitals, clinics and other health-care facilities worldwide.
“The opportunities are endless in nursing,” says MacRae, including at large hospital systems like HHS where the wide variety of roles include bedside, specialty clinics, the operating room, occupational health, research and management.
As part of her clinical placement for school, MacRae spends one 12-hour shift per week at SPH, which specializes in providing palliative care, rehabilitation, complex medical care and behavioural care. Patients are mostly older adults.
“I’ve learned a lot at St. Peter’s,” says MacRae, whose placement is in the complex care unit. “The nurses here are very good at supporting students.”
Georgetown resident Ashleigh Moro, 18, is also in Mohawk’s practical nursing program and doing a placement at SPH in the complex care unit. Like MacRae, she was inspired to pursue a nursing career by family.
“My late grandmother was a nurse,” says Moro. “I want to follow in her footsteps and make her proud.”
A career worth considering
“This placement has lots of supportive staff that love helping students succeed.” — Ashleigh Moro, Mohawk College practical nursing student
Moro encourages high school students to consider a career in nursing, even if they’re not strong in the sciences.
“Back in Grades 9 and 10 I struggled with science, but I was determined to keep going,” says Moro, who found biology fascinating and managed to raise her grades by attending summer school. Once Moro finishes the practical nursing program, she wants to study at McMaster to become a registered nurse, and possibly continue on to become a nurse practitioner.
“I love my placement at St. Peter’s,” says Moro. “I have a passion for wanting to help people and learn more about health care so this is a great fit. This placement has lots of supportive staff that love helping students succeed.”
Like MacRae, she’s also interested in working as a travel nurse while young. “Knowing that I can help save lives around the world fills me with happiness,” says Moro.
Stephanie Robins, 34, of Hamilton is doing her placement at SPH with the palliative care team. “I find palliative care to be very rewarding,” says Robins, a first-year practical nursing student who plans to work in hospice care once she graduates.
“I want to make a difference, and bring comfort to people who are close to end of life,” says Robins, who worked as a massage therapist, aesthetician and in retail before shifting gears to focus on nursing as a career.
“We have a lot of nurses in the family which helped me decide on this as a career path,” says Robins.
Strong support from the team
“Nothing beats the hands-on experience that comes with a nursing placement.” — Paul Mancini, Mohawk College practical nursing student
Fellow Mohawk practical nursing student Paul Mancini, 18, of Niagara Falls finishes his placement this month at HHS’ West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) in Grimsby.
“I’ve wanted to work in a helping profession since grade school,” says Mancini, who considered becoming a paramedic or working in physiotherapy before deciding on nursing.
“Nursing felt right for me,” says Mancini, adding he likes the community feel of WLMH. Like MacRae and Moro, he’s interested in seeing the world as a travel nurse but could also picture himself working in a hospital setting.
“My West Lincoln placement has been a great learning opportunity,” says Mancini. “Nothing beats the hands-on experience that comes with a nursing placement, and the nursing team here is really supportive of students.”