We look forward to hearing from you!
1 Belvedere Crt-1207
Brampton, ON Canada
May 13, 2020
Janice Waddell: I'm Janice Waddell. I've, been working with Gail and Mary and Donner and Wheeler for, 30 years.
And my work with, Gail Mary has really been in supporting students and new graduate nurses, in their career development, both within their education and also as, on graduation. And I'm also a faculty member in the Daphne Cockwell school of nursing at Ryerson university. Just wanted to give a big welcome to those of you who are participating at tonight and the 10 plus observers who are behind the scenes.
And, to remind you that it will be recorded. So the conversation today will be posted on donnerwheeler website. Amy, did you want to introduce yourself.
Amy Vodarek: I'm Amy and I, I've known, well, Gail and Mary actually were mentors of mine. And, and way back, I met Gail way back when I worked at sick kids and she was working there guiding nurses in their careers at that time. And then I met Mary and Mary guided me into coaching.
And I've done work with donnerwheeler since then.
So over the last 10 years, I've been working in the coaching and career and leadership development capacity in healthcare, I also teach at McMaster's, so that's why I'm partnered here with Janice. I teach leadership and management in, the nursing program at Mac, the undergrad program.
Janice Waddell: I just wanted to. Give you a sense of why, let's talk, let's chat. Chat for nurses was created at this time. We really, as Donner and Wheeler at large, wanted to provide their students with the opportunity, to, to talk about what it's like for, for all of us right now.
And for you in particular as students, undergraduate students, I mean, you can tell a little more about yourself. Spring. in a, in a moment, but together and share our experiences as nurses, as nursing students during this pandemic. And also to offer one another, some support and encouragement, some strategies, some ideas as we, we navigate this experience together.
So it's a very informal conversation. And I, our priority is to hear from you.
So, Amy, I'll pass them on to you.
Amy Vodarek: we just want to learn from you what your experiences have been like during this time. it's just so important that we are heard as nurses, you are heard as nurses and. And so what I invite you, I'd just go around and invite each of you to introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about, you know, where you're working or where you are in your educational program and if you're working.
and we'll just start with that. And maybe Jean-Claude since you, you joined us first, we'll just begin with you,.
Jean-Claude Fillion: hello. My name is Jean-Claude. Fillion. I'm actually a student in practical nursing. I'm in my last semester, we completed our classes, but just need to do clinical placement, before graduating.
So we're just waiting on, not at the moment. I'm currently not working in directly with COVID-19. Like in the present time. but it's the COVID-19, pandemic still has a certain effect on, students that, are not currently working, but they're at home. So we can talk about that later on if you'd like more in detail.
But yeah, that's a little bit about me. my, I guess my academic, pathway would be to proceed further after practical nursing. So, I'll talk a little bit about that later on as well on, some of the situations of challenges, during the pandemic as well.
Amy Vodarek: Thank you.
Alicia, how about you? Would you like to introduce yourself and a little bit about, where you are with your education?
Alicia Kassee : Yes. Hi everyone. My name's Alicia. I work at Toronto general in the emergency department. I've been there for about five years since June. I'm currently doing my master of nursing program at Ryerson.
I'm in the, thesis stream. Thesis and leadership stream so, I'm right now, I'm kind of in the research phase of my program, I guess. I agree. It's kind of on hold a little bit because of COVID, I've kind of had to adapt what I'm currently doing to reflect the current health, the current environment, or does it get my, research going and in the meantime, I'm working in the emerge dealing with COVID patients.
So that's always interesting.
Amy Vodarek: Yeah, I'm sure we're going to have a good conversation. Thank you. And Lois.
Lois Chui: Hello. Hi, my name is Lois. I'm also in the masters program, in the course based stream, in the leadership stream. I currently work at McMaster children's hospital in Hamilton where I live. and then concurrently I'm doing my summer, my spring summer courses for the master's program.
So the online courses have actually been a nice break from work throughout this time of COVID.
Amy Vodarek: So the first question I have, and, and we'll just sort of see how many questions we get through is how are you doing during this time?
Jean-Claude Fillion: I would say that I'm handling the, the current situation quite well, better than when it first happened. I would say diet, there's always an adjusting period in any situation, and I certainly feel like I've adjusted quite well and rapidly. but being, around the media and just observing what's happening out there, it's, It's still making it feel like it's a little bit surreal. but in terms of myself and how I'm feeling, I would say that I'm currently doing good enough, being that we're staying at home and like not having as much social interactions in person. Yeah. So I would say that I'm doing quite well for the certain circumstances.
Amy Vodarek: Okay. Thank you. Alicia and Lois.
Alicia Kassee : As of right now, I think I'm adapting to this new normal of COVID. it's just so you're, I think this will be ongoing for quite some time and just adapting to the new policies and everything that's changing on a daily basis. Well, used to be last month, but now we're pretty stable in terms of what's going on.
Otherwise, I think I'm coping okay. I think I just need to adapt to, "Hey, this is the way life is going to be for at least a couple months." As for what we're hearing in the media and what we're seeing in terms of the numbers of new cases. Just trying to adapt as best I can. I think.
Lois Chui: I think when COVID first started happening in March, I did a lot of baking and cooking.
Like, I think many people have been in. I've since had to, stop doing that a little bit. but working in the pediatric population, specifically upon a surgical unit, we've actually been having, Low census, just because of all the cancellations and delays for, surgeries, especially elective surgeries.
so I'm interested to see how, when, when, COVID regulations start to release, how that'll affect the backlog surgery's happening over the summer.
Amy Vodarek: Yeah, definitely. That's a big unknown, isn't it?
Janice Waddell: We're also wondering, you've all indicated that right now things are going okay. It's, it's smooth, lots of adjustments, but you're kind of getting into the big groups, so to speak. So what kind of challenges, if you have had, what are, what are the challenges or the difficulties that you have experienced at this point?
Jean-Claude Fillion: Okay. I will describe my challenges there's a few of them that I can actually name. well I can say that, exam in order to graduate our program, just knowing that I need to study, for. All of the material that we learned in the past two years of the program of practical nursing. I find it very challenging to do that and these circumstances of a pandemic, it certainly has a big influence on my dedication, my drive, and my passion towards, studying.
I would say that. also, having a little bit of like moments of like a little periods of feeling low. Or like, it's kind of like a grieving process that we've been going through, like with the pandemic. So I feel like I'm slowly getting out of that, by, it has like been a challenge at times. It just comes and goes.
but I do feel like I have the capabilities and the, the tools to allow me to progress still. And. Like, lift myself up. I have actually been, keeping occupied as well with, taking an online course that I enrolled at the beginning of the pandemic. So I enrolled with Yale university, to do a course, which is the science of wellbeing.
So it's, more of like the psychology of the good life. so it's basically teaching you how to be happier in your daily life, and it makes you, some of the assignments that are given is to write down moments of gratitude. savor those moments that you absolutely, feel like you are very comfortable and absolutely love having those certain moments and to just really stay in the present and think about that moment that is giving you joy. So that has helped with the, just feeling low part of a challenge during the pandemic.
Another challenge that I would say is just all of the, all of the connections that I am trying to make work because I'm actually, I'm actually a student with College Boreal. But I'm also, just accepted my offer with the bridging program of George Brown.
So I'm hoping to start in September, but there's challenges and on the way to get there. So meaning that I have to still do my eight weeks clinical placement, which we're still waiting for the colleges of Ontario to tell my college that it's safe to, to send a students back to the hospitals and longterm care homes to do our eight week clinical placement.
And then after that I have to do the comprehensive exam, which involves all the material of the two years. Then I have to try to be able to do the licensing exam, but with George Brown and often other colleges, they're asking for it in July or prior to the September start date. But the nurse, the college of nurses only has exams in June and mid September, which I can't do the June one, because I still need to do eight weeks of clinical in order to graduate in order to be able to do that exam with the college of nurses.
Janice Waddell: Lots of unknowns. But it also sounds like you have really. Taking a lead for yourself and enrolling in the registering in the course that you're taking.
That is really, it sounds like one that's empowered you, in the midst of all the uncertainty. Lois, how about you? What are some of the challenges with work and your academic work as well?
Lois Chui: Yeah. I think one challenge in particular that I can think of from work is I think when, we were in the heat of COVID, and I felt as though, nurses were getting a lot of praise for being on the front lines, and rightfully so.
But I think as a pediatric nurse, for myself not interacting directly with too many COVID patients, I almost felt guilty for. The praise that people were giving, just because I felt as though I was undeserving of it because I wasn't, directly in contact and at risk. and I felt as though work for me was, actually a lot less heavy than before because of all the surgeries being canceled.
So I think that was a feeling that I really had to get over. And. Too. I reached out and talked to some of my colleagues about it, who surprisingly unfortunately felt the same way, have this feeling of just undeserving of the praise that we've been getting. so it's just been an interesting feeling, as I reflect on that, just because I feel I've never felt like that, throughout my career.
Janice Waddell: That's hard to be working as hard as you are across a number of things. And two, because you're not in the thick of it and at high risk that you are deserving of the praise of, of being a, a nurse in a very complicated healthcare system right now.
Lois Chui: Yeah. So I think, one thing that, people have just reminded me of is everyone is doing their part . So whether it's you're in the thick of it or, not so much in the thick of it. you are still part of it.
Janice Waddell: I believe that for sure. And you know, I think being the nursing week and also, the year of celebrating nursing and midwives, that even COVID aside, it's a very special year
Alicia, how are you?
Alicia Kassee : I'm good. from a school standpoint, I mean, other than me having to adapt my research to meet COVID required to meet the criteria of investigating COVID or inquiring about COVID in order for the research ethics for even look at that, I've been set back at least a couple months by just getting everyone to edit it.
Review it and answer any questions before we can get to the REB stage of my, my proposal. So that's one thing about school or work. Otherwise, it, I mean, challenges we're adapting cause every day we were hearing something different. Sometimes we had two different meetings, like huddles, on a day shift with my manager saying, Hey, this is what we've invested.
Let's do what we're doing now. Oh no, wait. We've changed it to that. So it's been a lot of back and forth in terms of what we're doing and how we're adapting to what's going on. the volumes were down, as I'm sure everyone has heard. The emergency department people were not coming so much in the month of March and April.
Now they're coming back. We're starting surgeries, we're doing transplants again. So everything is kind of resuming to normal volume. Which is good because, you can't keep everything on hold for such a long time. But, in terms of challenges always wearing PPE, the entire shift is kind of exhausting.
Wearing those masks and just trying to figure out ways to stay hydrated and basic needs. Like you feel short of breath while you're wearing that mask all the time. Having to don an N95 respirator, When you're doing something like a protected code blue. And really learning how to adopt to the new critical situations because these patients, these COVID patients, decompensate quite quickly and having support on hand to help manage that situation.
Limiting the number of staff, whether that be our RTs, MDs, nurses at the bedside when we're actually doing something like an aerosolized. Aerosolized generating procedure, which is the highest risk for, potentially catching something that it would cope it. just limiting that, trying to adapt to new processes.
We changed the department around completely. So just adopting to everything that's really happening on a day to day basis was kind of difficult. Well, but now I think we're kind of static. We've learned as much as we possibly can. 10 within the last two or three months at Colby has been in Canada. Also, like looking at the other countries, what they've been doing.
So just, Trying to adapt and realizing this is the way of life for at least a couple of months until I guess COVID goes away or a couple of years. I don't know how long it the last and just wearing PPE, like you don't realize how many things could potentially be contaminated. The way you're taking everything off.
You have to be careful when you're touching things. Just being very hypervigilant of what's going on and what you're doing at that point is really important. It's eyeopening.
Janice Waddell: It sounds overwhelming to me to negotiate that while you're also trying to forge ahead with your, your research and your ethics and thesis.
That's a heavy bag as well.
Amy Vodarek: Yeah , it sounds like a lot, and the PPE part sounds, you know, just thinking about wearing that every day. My hats are off to you, but also Lois, I just wanted to comment a little bit on what you were saying.
The fact that you go into work and that you're, you're probably reassuring so many. Families as well who have questions. you know, congratulate yourself on that and acknowledge the contribution you're making, as Janice was saying.
So, I'm curious how you're taking care of yourselves through all this.
Lois Chui: One thing that some of my friends have been doing to keep in touch with one another. we're actually doing a plank challenge right now. and every day we'll go on like a video call and then we'll plank for a certain number of minutes, and then each day we'll like increase in minutes.
and then we've actually also been doing like following YouTube workouts together and having one screen where. We have the YouTube video playing, and then another screen where we have our friends, like working out together. and then I, I've appreciate, I've come to appreciate long walks. I walked to the other day, for 45 minutes to get coffee.
and I don't think, if, like, if it wasn't COVID, I don't think I would ever do that. I would have just driven, but it's helped me appreciate nature and helped me appreciate to get my steps in.
Amy Vodarek: That's excellent.
Janice Waddell: You're doing your planks. What's your record?
Lois Chui: so today we're going to do three minutes. We do like three minute regular plank.
Yeah. And then, a minute and 45 seconds on each side for side planks. And then our goal is to get up to five minutes.
Jean-Claude Fillion: I've actually been walking as well. Trying to do, some long walks here and there. I would say it's not that frequent. I would say it's maybe like once every three days, maybe. So I would do that. also I've been baking sometimes, like I was actually making, some chocolate chip banana bread.
So I've done some of those. And then, just like, I don't know, I find that I'm cooking more compared to eating out. but I'm still doing the, takeout Wednesday to support the local businesses.
And then just like working on myself I have the time where I can try to improve myself and get ready for when I'm able to go back and be the best kind of nurse I can be for the patients.
Amy Vodarek: That's fabulous. Yeah. Alicia, how about you? How are you taking good care?
Alicia Kassee : I think just working out at home, cause Goodlife fitness, they have the on demand like 20 minute workouts or something like that.
So it's good. It's convenient and I can do it in my home. And then just. Spending more time with the family, which is lovely. And cooking a little bit more. I'm able to have more time to do that now that I'm not traveling, you know, for meetings downtown or whatever. I'm able to kind of do things at home, which is lovely.
Amy Vodarek: Yeah. Nice. And, and so we were kind of curious too about how your schools or supporting you through this, and are you feeling that you're getting the support you need from your schools? Are there things that are missing for you?
Jean-Claude Fillion: I would say that, we, I do feel that there's support, with the schools.
A lot of emails going around about, the counselor, the social worker at the campus that's willing to meet with you through zoom and all these, excellent services are. therefore to students. So I do sense that they are taking care of us. so I've always been a fan of what College Boreal does, for the students because they've, they've always taken care of us, in any situation, even if it's just a daily, like normal day, there's always some support.
But I do feel like there should be more. communication on what is to come, with our program. But I mean, I understand that everything is changing every day, and there's gotta be some meetings, to confirm if everyone's on the same page on a certain information before disclosing it to the students.
And all of these things are all in the background. So I understand that they're going through. a lot of different, preparations and meetings and trying to get us some information. And then, something ends up changing the whole concept that they had. like let's say when, the premier ended up announcing that we're going to be starting to open up certain businesses.
Well, that is just changing a few things of the expectation of when the school can possibly open and things like that. So, I feel like it's, there should be more communication towards the students about what's to come by under. I also understand that it's like no one's fault really. It's just what it is and they're doing their best for us anyway.
So I, I have full faith in them.
Amy Vodarek: Thank you. Alicia, how about you?
Alicia Kassee : think I'm in a unique situation where I'm done all of my courses, thankfully. So I'm just on the research. It's a component of my thesis. So I'm able to, I have been collaborating with my supervisors online for almost a year now. So we haven't really had that many in person meetings anyways, just cause there's so many.
but people on my committee, but, I think. There are tons of supports available to us, like the faculty, because I 'm at Ryerson, some of the facts of community service, sends us stuff. our program administrator administrator sends us information as well, which is great. and then. I think Ryerson itself is actually sending us information regards to faculty, university-wide supports, which is great.
So I feel supported from that end. And also I'm privileged enough to, have supports from UHN as well, which I know is a separate discussion, but. I think it's great and it doesn't affect my schooling as much just because everything I'm doing kind of is already online. So I am also privileged, I guess, than most other students actually need to go to classes and have that hands on experience.
Jean-Claude Fillion: I just wanted to also add, something that I praise the college for is that when we were first in the shutdown of the, of the schools, about like a week later, when they trying to figure out how they're going to be doing, the online courses and everything, they actually called every single student.
On their cell phones that they had on file for those students and actually ask them if they had internet access, if they had a computer and all of these things in order to, to actually accommodate for those people. And then also the, the social worker, the counselor of the campus actually called every single student as well to see how everyone was doing.
So I feel like that was really good support, but they had, but I mean, I think that's because we were such, we're such a small campus. We're in Toronto. we're on the third floor of the Toronto star building, so it's not that big a, so I think that was the, the, The reason why they were able to do that.
Amy Vodarek: Yeah. But what a nice, just like what a gesture to make sure that you feel taken care of.
And Lois, how about you? Thank you so much.
Lois Chui: Yeah. I think I would agree with what Alicia has been saying in terms of I'm feeling supported. Yeah. I think even, for my spring and summer courses, the professors have modified their classes and To give you an example, one has said, I know that. Typically taking a three hour courses long enough, but having to do it online is a lot. So she's modified it in the sense that, she would make, half of the class, an online lecture that we can log in whenever we're available to. And then the other hour and a half is, in class through zoom. And so I've really appreciated how a lot of the professors have been, adapting to this new model and, very accommodating to us as well.
Amy Vodarek: That's a, that's a great strategy. I'm actually taking notes on that one. That's good. That's good. You know, another question that we have, if you, if you're still with us with some energy to answer them as, you know, what.
You know what, what do you see as possibilities going forward from this experience? Has it changed anything for how you view your career, or what are you learning about this, about, about your career choice in nursing and what, you know, what, has anything changed when you think about your career? And maybe Lois since you've just ended with you. We'll start with you this time.
Lois Chui: Yeah, for sure. I think, it'll be very interesting to see, In terms of healthcare policies and funding, how that will change, over time after this, we see the effects of longterm care and staffing, and the same goes with, a lot of inpatient care hospitals.
and I just wonder how that will, change after COVID. in light of seeing the work that frontline work there's, are doing. I think for me, this experience has definitely solidified, how United this profession is, that no matter, what unit you're working on or how many years of experience you have, there's just a sense of comradery that everyone's in it together.
And even not only just with nurses, but With, respiratory therapists and with doctors. And there's just a sense of family. And. Yeah. It's been really refreshing, to no, that even in this, state where it's very high stress and, a lot of people, people have various things going on in their home life as well, that they're able to come to work and give it their all and, just collaborate with one another to no help people get better.
Amy Vodarek: That's amazing.
And Alicia, how about you?
Alicia Kassee : For me, my goal was always management. I'm seeing how multilayered, responses, especially within an acute care environment, how, various levels of a specialist have to gather like infectious diseases. It's like all of these people need to really come together in order to, See how they can best help with the current situation and how we're able to mitigate any negative effects associated with that. How we're able to do the best that we can for staff, the patients, and everyone else that we're interacting with in a healthcare environment. So it's really opened up my eyes to how important it is to have, all of these people involved in decision making sitting at command tables and really, being active participants in what is going on, especially within the media and seeing how, various levels of government are collaborating. And that's really refreshing to see that they're putting aside their differences and kind of looking towards. like humanity as a greater whole and forgetting about the other agendas that were on the table and it's really refreshing. So I'm hoping I can use that knowledge and bring that towards that career in leadership.
Amy Vodarek: Yeah. Fabulous. Jean-Claude, how about you?
Jean-Claude Fillion: I feel like the. career, pathway with nursing.
I feel like it's actually going to, there's a better, there's like a very big pride in knowing that I'm stepping into a career where, where. We are part of the, the care of a patient and we're one of the first bases that they see. so just setting the tone right off the bat, I think that that's such an important role in the healthcare industry and also the fact that.
The government has been shining the light on nursing, nursing individuals and staff and just trying to push more for development of healthcare systems in the country and also the province. I feel like that is just setting us up for a great outcome in the future. so I, I'm really eager to step forward into that and knowing that there's a lot of support out there that's coming into play. And, the government has us, in good intentions and everything, so they have our backs and they're working hard to give us the best conditions, for the future.
Amy Vodarek: Yeah, you guys are incredible
Janice Waddell: If you represent, the nursing students and whether those are undergraduate students were at whatever level of education and practice, your resilience is, it's so encouraging thank you so much for joining us and sharing your thoughts and ideas with us.
Amy Vodarek: we're in such good hands knowing that you are, you are our future.
We look forward to hearing from you!
1 Belvedere Crt-1207
Brampton, ON Canada