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Playing a central role

Nurses are the heart and soul of health care

Nicole Hibbard works as a registered nurse on a neurological unit at Deer Lodge Centre.
Nicole Hibbard works as a registered nurse on a neurological unit at Deer Lodge Centre.
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Video: Playing a central role

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Published Tuesday, May 9, 2017

As a relative newcomer to nursing with just five years under her belt, Nicole Hibbard may not have seen the amount of change experienced by her more 'veteran' colleagues, but she's seen enough to be sure of one thing: Nurses are central to the delivery of quality care.

"Nurses are, I think, pretty much the heart and soul of health care," she says. "We're so important to keeping health care together."

Hibbard works as a registered nurse on a neurological unit at Deer Lodge Centre, where she cares for people who have had a brain injury, stroke, or who have a chronic neurological disease such as Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease).

"It can be difficult to care for patients with chronic diseases," Hibbard says. "Their lives aren't easy and sometimes we're the only people they have. Their families can't be there all the time, and that's to be expected, so you kind of become their family when you work on a unit like mine."

It's a demanding job that often takes an emotional toll.

"I don't think people realize how difficult nursing can be," Hibbard says, "Sometimes my friends or family will say that my job sounds depressing, but I feel that I'm part of my patients' lives. As a nurse you have that caring and compassionate personality. I think the reward comes in being able to express that through your work in support of your patients, and in being there for them when they need you most.

"As nurses, we are unrelenting in our care," she adds. In a constantly changing and increasingly stressful health care environment, the care she provides extends not only to Hibbard's patients, but to herself and her colleagues.

"Sometimes it's very difficult for us to avoid that feeling of nursing burnout, which is why it's so important for us to work as a team," she says. "There are times where you feel like you are running on empty, but you try to avoid that by spending time with your family, laughing, exercising, or engaging in activities that help promote a sense of holistic well-being for yourself.

"You also have to have a really good connection with your co-workers," she adds. "Whenever a nurse is struggling on our team, the rest of us are always there to help. We're never going to let them sink. As nurses, we try to take care of our own."

For that, they often turn to a tool Hibbard says is as vital to nursing as a stethoscope: a good sense of humour.

"If you don't have a sense of humour, you won't make it in nursing," she says, adding that the trait usually comes with the two other indispensable tools of the trade.

"Caring and compassion have always been the cornerstones of nursing," Hibbard says.

"You will acquire the technical skills to become competent and confident in this profession, but it's the caring and compassionate aspects of nursing that will always keep you connected with the fundamentals of nursing. If you lose those personality traits, nursing isn't where you should be anymore."

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