“I chose nursing to work directly with people, and to bridge the clients to the right services at the right time for the right reason.”
“We were there for each other when we helped a mother deliver her baby, when we first observed an open-heart surgery, when we first performed CPR, and when our first patient passed away. Some experiences were exhilarating while some were tough.”
A student who strongly believes in serving her community, Annes Song worked as an allied health care professional before becoming attracted to the nursing profession and its ability to empower patients at a personal level. Her experience in the UBC nursing program has been extremely intense and rewarding.
What has made your time at UBC the most memorable?
The wealth of health-professional programs and resources has made my time at UBC most memorable. As an undergraduate student, I was able to engage in interprofessional education workshops, integrating client-centered care into my education at an early phase of my nursing career. It has helped me communicate effectively regarding client-care with clients, physicians, social workers, physical therapists, dieticians, pharmacists and occupational therapists during my clinical placements. Especially through client-led programs, I gained a comprehensive understanding of the clients’ perspective of living with chronic illness, and their perception of the roles of health care providers.
Tell me about your experience with the School of Nursing. What have you learned that is most valuable?
My experience with the School of Nursing has been priceless. As nursing students in an accelerated program, we had to learn new concepts and rotate through new clinical sites every six weeks. Truthfully, compared to my other degrees, the journey through this curriculum was intense. Yet, I survived each day and each clinical rotation because I had my nursing friends and instructors by my side. Without them, I could not imagine how I would have gone back to the hospital after each week. We were there for each other when we helped a mother deliver her baby, when we first observed an open-heart surgery, when we first presented our clinical debate, when we first performed CPR, and when our first patient passed away. Some experiences were exhilarating while some were tough. Collectively, we supported each other through countless post clinical conferences, and witnessed each other becoming competent health practitioners. I am so proud of my nursing cohort and what we have collectively accomplished thus far, and I feel privileged to be part of it.
How are you applying the skills you learned through your studies at UBC?
I am applying the skills I learned through my studies at UBC by getting involved in various projects, which include advocating for nursing students at a provincial level, assessing patient safety and quality improvement in acute care settings, coordinating health prevention workshops in the communities in which I serve, and assisting nurse clinicians in studying the impact of advanced cardiovascular intervention in elderly populations.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration from my family and friends through their unconditional support. Moreover, my client’s stories and their voices motivate me to self-reflect and serve my community. For instance, when I hear about people’s lived experiences with chronic diseases such as chronic pain, mental illnesses, and HIV, I am inspired by their resilience, and provoked by the numerous external barriers that disrupt their continuum of care.
What has been your most memorable extra-curricular/volunteer experience while studying nursing at UBC?
My most memorable extra-curricular experience was participating in a pilot project coordinated by the UBC College of Health Discipline. It was a 16-month Interprofessional Health Mentors’ Program where two other students and I had a unique experience of shadowing a mentor living with advanced muscle dystrophy, and developing interprofessional competencies. Initially, I had underestimated our mentor’s functioning capabilities due to his condition. However, as I learned more about his journey, I came to realize that although his health condition is not optimal for a “normal” way of living, he is totally capable of living independently, operating a small company, and advocating for people living with muscle dystrophy in his community. In reflection, I felt embarrassed for making assumptions about his functioning level from just looking at his medical diagnosis, and was grateful for this realization because it has helped me cultivate my perspectives of living with chronic disease and disabilities.
Why did you choose nursing?
I have always believed in practicing health care services for the communities in which I serve. Over the past five years, I have studied at the fundamental level to build scientific knowledge, and have worked in the health care sector to consolidate my skills in patient advocacy. However, I still noticed that my role as an allied health care professional had its limitations. I was inspired by the diversity and richness of various nursing roles, and was motivated by the way they empower clients at the grassroots level. Therefore, I chose nursing to work directly with people, and to bridge the clients to the right services at the right time for the right reason.
What advice would you give to a student considering nursing?
I would advise students to gain more knowledge about nursing and patient care before applying to the program. Self-assessment for the “readiness” to learn about nursing would be a key step. For instance, they could shadow a nurse working in their field of interest and gain volunteer experience working with people in acute care settings, while writing a daily reflective journal. This could help them gain personal insights to their strengths and weaknesses, and whether their values align with a nursing career.
What are your plans for the future–immediate? Long-term?
My post grad employment plan includes working as a staff registered nurse in an acute medicine program at a local hospital in Vancouver, serving multi-ethnic communities. During this employment, I will be working to create space for nurses and clients to share their stories, reflect on health related issues, and collaborate and innovate, while working also to strengthen client empowerment.
Consecutively, I am privileged to represent graduate students at a provincial level, focusing on enhancement of patient safety and improvement of the transition between academia and the health care system. During this activity, I plan to advocate for the nursing profession and integrating our concerns into the right policies.
As a long term plan, I hope to study advanced nursing care and health administration to enhance patient safety as well as work for an international health organization in assisting clients living in developing countries with mental health counseling and chronic disease self-management.
How do you feel a degree in nursing has benefited you compared to a different field of study?
I feel that a degree in nursing has benefited me interpersonally. For instance, I gained the knowledge and skills to be more diligent about observing and assessing my patients. I am also more conscientious, organized and thorough in my patient care. Subsequently, now that I am at the end of my nursing degree, I am less afraid to move out of my comfort zone and to challenge myself around promoting patient advocacy, equity, and quality improvement. Therefore, the nursing degree has benefited me because the program provided me with many tools and the network to view the world through multiple lenses with a mind of a curious scientist in a safe and supported space.
Anything else you’d like to include?
I would like to congratulate the Class of 2013 for getting one step closer to creating spaces for innovation and thus, changing the world together. I would like to say thanks to my family, friends, mentors, and all of my supporters for believing in me.
Photo and text provided by Applied Science Student Related News 2013 interviews