I just finished taking a theory course and clinical practicum in community health nursing. I did really well in both - and I think this is really my area of expertise. I got 92% on the theory portion, and my final clinical mark is 94%. My instructor said that they are discouraged from giving marks in the exceptional range (90-100%), but she talked it over with the clinical coordinator and gave the rationale for why I deserved that mark. I am surprised, excited, and really proud of myself that I have found an area of nursing that I really feel passionate about.
My instructor said my critical analysis papers were perfect, and my writing is at the Master's level. I wrote about chronic disease prevention in low-income populations, and about how nurses can get involved in promoting social justice and human rights protection. Both topics are really interesting to me, so I enjoyed reading the research and writing about them.
My instructor recommended that I take my Master's degree in Population Health Promotion, social justice, or something else that will allow me to contribute to those fields. It's exciting to hear that encouragement from someone who has had management positions in that field herself. She actually works for the University of Calgary Population Health Research Intervention Unit. She has done so many interesting jobs in mental health promotion and has been on funding boards for the health region. It was really neat to learn from her.
Our government and health care system don't devote enough resources to an upstream approach to health - to health promotion and disease prevention, rather than treating disease. You have to be really passionate about health promotion in order to do community health nursing. It's all about changing social policy so we create supportive environments and the conditions that promote health, rather than blaming individuals for their lifestyle choices when they are disadvantaged and vulnerable and don't have the means to change their situation. It's very unstructured so you have to be creative and put yourself out there, connect with other sectors and organizations, etc. I never thought I would be good at something like that, but it turns out that I thrive in that environment. Knowing that I am actually promoting health is what really motivates me. It's a lot different than working in the hospital.
I was really excited to be placed at the Food Bank, and it turned out to be an amazing experience. I learned a lot about the issue of food insecurity in Regina. The fact that 8 to 11,000 people in our city use the Food Bank every month is eye opening to say the least. Our group got involved in National Hunger Awareness Day by dressing up as sandwiches and grapes (I basically covered myself with purple balloons), holding up signs downtown, and distributing bags for people to use to donate. We got a good response from a lot of people, but it was amazing (and kind of frustrating) to watch business men and women cruising down the Scarth Street mall with their cell phones up to their ears and their heads down, not willing to stop for one second to realize that there are people living in 3rd world conditions in our own community. It's sad how disconnected we are from one another. Our priorities are in really odd places. National Hunger Awareness Day got a few seconds at the end of the CTV news broadcast. Most media attention that day was dedicated to hockey or talking about how a celebrity visited a yoga studio in Regina. Sad. It just served as another reminder of why I don't pay for/watch television.
It was really easy for me to connect with Food Bank clients, because I have been a Food Bank client myself. Not only do I remember going to get hampers as a kid, I even used the Food Bank in my first year of University. I really appreciate the importance of social programs like welfare, low-income housing, family allowances, and Food Banks because without them, I wouldn't be where I am today. I don't remember ever going hungry as a child, but without those supports, it may have been a different situation.
Being at the Food Bank was a well-rounded experience because I was also able to connect with different organizations in the community such as homeless shelters, Carmichael Outreach (needle exchange program), the Addictions and Detox center, Urban Aboriginal Housing Strategy, the Regina Literacy Network, and United Way. I got to do blood pressure screening with the Live Well With Chronic Conditions program, learned about community gardens, volunteered at REACH (Regina Education and Action on Child Hunger) and made Good Food Boxes, etc.
I'm just really grateful for the entire experience.