At BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services (BCMHSUS), over 300 direct care nurses answer the call to help to our clients and patients every day. These nurses work alongside hundreds of other staff to strengthen our programs and services, many of whom also have nursing backgrounds.
This Nursing Week, we meet some of the nurses working in clinical, educational and administrative roles across BCMHSUS. Join us in celebrating their contribution to the health and wellbeing of our province!
With over 30 years of experience, Nicola Scheu knows a thing or two about the responsibilities, challenges and highlights of nursing.
“There are so many diverse practise areas within nursing,” Nicola says. “It’s a job with great flexibility and I love the mix of evidence-based science and the art of caring that it offers.”
Nicola was called to nursing for both personal and practical reasons. “I have always been naturally curious and a helper,” she said. “But witnessing the struggles that a loved one had in navigating mental health challenges really underpinned my decision to pursue psychiatric nursing. I knew it would be something that could fulfil me personally while also allowing me to support myself.”
Nicola is motivated by the opportunity to truly make a difference in the lives of patients and credits the collaborative atmosphere at BCMHSUS for her longevity.
“As a relationship-based leader, I value the connections within the workplace and the opportunities for continuous learning,” she said.
“Nurses have such an immense responsibility in caring for people at some of the most crucial times in their lives. This is especially true in forensic mental health where perhaps patients might be at a pivotal point on their path. It’s a true privilege to play a part in seeing them get better.”
With over three decades of experience, Nicola has some words of wisdom for nurses at the beginning of their career.
“I would say, always stay open to possibilities,” she said. “Try not to get discouraged when things seem tough, stay true to your beliefs, listen to each other and value the contributions everyone can bring. Whether a brand new graduate or a veteran nurse, we all form a part of the care team with important perspectives.”
Nicola also recommends curiosity and an appetite to learn.
“Continue to develop your knowledge base throughout your career,” she advised. “Stay curious and venture outside of your comfort zone. Finally, as you take care of patients, look out for one another and try not to personalize things too much. The more receptive to feedback we are, the more we can grow together.”
As a nurse in Correctional Health Services, Ashley finds motivation in helping others. “What gets me up and into work every day is advocacy–supporting clients and advocating for them and their health so they can transition back to the community and lead healthy, meaningful lives.”
Ashley also recognizes the need to manage her own mental health and overall wellbeing.
“Self-care is so important when we’re talking about motivation and performance,” she says. “By balancing my own self-care, I can better show up every day to support my clients and colleagues.”
Originally from Prince George, B.C., Ashley moved to Nova Scotia in 2016 and worked as a medical and emergency nurse. She also took travel nurse jobs in Oliver, B.C. and Prince George, B.C. to vary her experience while also getting to spend more time in her home province.
“My most memorable experiences have definitely been as a travel nurse,” Ashley says. “I never expected it but I ended up moving to the Okanagan for a job at Okanagan Correctional Centre and now this is where I call home.”
When it comes to a career in nursing, Ashley recommends an open mind.
“I would say to be open to all areas of nursing. Even if you think something might not be for you, you might be surprised what path you’ll find your passion in.”
Nathan Ly is committed to empowering others to overcome hardship. As a nurse educator, this means helping colleagues as well as his clients.
“Supporting others aligns with my own personal values of learning, growing, and helping people to continue a cycle of positive change,” he said. “Being a nurse educator and concurrent disorders nurse enables me to put my experience and values to work.”
Nathan’s advice to the next generation of nurses comes from his own experience.
“I know what it feels like to struggle. If I were to give advice to the next generation, it would be to embrace change because it is a constant, and also to practice self-care regularly, to help you care for others.”
Thinking back to the start of his career, Nathan remembers a particularly messy moment that helped him learn to smile and embrace things as they come.
“There was one day back when I was a student where I was giving medications via gastro-intestinal tube,” he said. “One medication was a bright red liquid and had a very lubricating consistency. Instead of just pushing the air out of the feeding syringe, my hand slipped and I ended up spraying the ceiling with this bright red liquid. Of course, it then started dripping down in front of my patient and my instructor as we all stared at each other. Lessons were learned that day but laughs were also had.”