Maryam Koochek (BSN ‘17)

My name is Maryam. I am a newly graduated nurse from the UBC School of Nursing. I came to the school of nursing in pursuit of finding a place within the discipline where I could see myself contributing to client health and welfare. It took a while, but I found my place in community nursing. Finding community nursing was like a gift for me; and from that initial opportunity, I made the decision to engage as much as possible. Through working at the Dr. Peter Centre, the women’s group at Pender Clinic for women who have experienced trauma and working with both the foot care project for the homeless population at Union Gospel Mission and the Evelyn Seller Centre’s Homeless Connect events, I began to truly appreciate the lasting effects that social determinants of health have on individuals living in marginalized conditions. This journey was only the start since I now work as a community health nurse in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side where I hope to learn, provide nursing services and be part of the fabric of this incredibly diverse community of caregivers and residents.

Why did you choose nursing? 
Ultimately I chose nursing in pursuit of care for others. For the last 10 years before nursing school, I worked as a scientist in both research and diagnostic laboratories. I had immense satisfaction at the contributions I made, but it always lacked that element of human connection that can only be felt person-to-person and often in the simplest ways such as holding someone’s hand when they are in pain. For me, it was profoundly important to have a career where I could combine compassion and kindness that underpins the way in which we experience the world with concrete knowledge and a skill set — nursing was the answer!

What advice would you give a student considering a degree in nursing? 
Be prepared to work hard and be challenged. The program is intense and the profession requires you to show up at your very best every day. People’s health and wellbeing depend so much on your vigilance (even as a student) and the way in which you care for your clients. Be realistic about your expectations. You are entering a challenging profession at a time where there are a lot of demands and pressures on our health care system. But there are also boundless opportunities for growth and professional development, and as long as you are open to embracing the challenges and working to make your practice one that comes from a place of care and compassion, you will find it very rewarding! Finally, prepare to be surprised at your own strength and boundless abilities. It is a transforming experience and you will leave the program a very different person to when you started.

What are your plans for the future? 
I have never been one to have a detailed roadmap of the next 20 years! That’s not to say that I don’t plan for the future, but rather approach it with a sense of fluidity and flexibility. Speaking from where I find myself at the present time, I would like to become a nurse practitioner. I think the profession is the perfect blend of the medical and nursing models of care and there is certainly room in our current system for expanding this type of practice for the benefit of our clients.

Photo and text provided by the Rising Stars Applied Science 2017 interviews