ESTEVAN - She might not have always wanted to be a nurse, but Kendra Memory is pleased that she made the choice to enter the profession more than a decade ago.
Memory graduated from the nursing program offered through the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) back in 2011, and has worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital ever since.
“You do all of your theory at home, and then all of the clinical, practicums and labs are in Regina,” said Memory.
But even before she started in nursing, she had been introduced to health care when she was a special care aid at St. Joseph’s and at Estevan Area Home Care, and she also worked at Hill View Manor when it first opened 20 years ago.
“It was not something I ever thought I wanted to do, but my mother-in-law worked there, and she really wanted me to try it, and I loved it right from Day 1,” said Memory. “I decided to pursue my career with the encouragement of the wonderful nurses that worked there at the time.”
Once she completed the special care aid program, she went on to take nursing classes online.
Memory noted that one of her sons was diagnosed with cancer at the age of four in 1998, and even after spending all that time in the hospital with him, surrounded by dedicated staff, she never thought it would be something she wanted to do.
“The thought didn’t even occur to me. It wasn’t until I stepped foot in Hill View that I realized it is a good career,” said Memory.
Helping people is the basis of nursing and that’s what drew her to the profession. Nurses help people during their toughest times, but they are also there for the best of times, such as in the maternity ward during the birth of a new baby.
Nurses often work in several units rather than focus on just one. In her line, as it’s called, there is maternity, acute care and long-term care.
She has also worked in endoscopy and the addictions treatment centre.
“I find variety,” said Memory. “I find you don’t get in a rut then. I do like to change it up a bit. Working in addictions was quite enjoyable. I was there for almost a year … and it’s a different pace, a different type of nursing, but it’s a very rewarding place to work when you see the changes in the patients from when they walk in,” she recalled.
But there isn’t one particular area that’s a favourite. She enjoys her co-workers regardless of where she is working, which is another big attraction for her.
She has been impressed with the improvements in long-term care.
“I didn’t work down here during the first part of COVID, just because in any long-term care facility, the staff members were cohorted, which means they basically kept the staff that worked there, and they didn’t work anywhere else.”
They did pick certain people to stay in long-term care, and she was working in the other units. Memory went about 18 months between long-term care shifts. Once she returned, she realized how much she missed it.
She loves her interactions with the residents of long-term care.
“Right now they don’t have to wear masks when they’re in the common areas, which is much nicer for them. You can see them smile and the recreation department does a wonderful job of keeping them busy during the day and involved with different activities.”
Memory believes the hospital’s staff has done a great job of handling the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sometimes they had patients from Regina or Weyburn, which filled up the hospital’s medical unit and added to their workload. Other times the acute care ward plateaued.
“Even with our interruptions in physicians or coverage, we try to always accommodate anybody who wants to stay in Estevan,” said Memory.
Cheryl Harrison, the patient services manager at the hospital, said Memory has long been an asset to the team.
“She’s energetic and eager to help us out wherever we may be,” said Harrison.
Memory expects she will remain in nursing and health care for some time yet. She had a later in life start in the industry, so she knows she has a few years to go.
And she encourages other people to become a nurse. If it’s something they’re considering, there are ways they can try it out like she did.
“Either start in a different position in the hospital, or they can request to shadow a nurse or request to shadow somebody for a day to see the ins and outs, and to see if it’s something they would enjoy,” said Memory.
High school students have been matched with a nurse for a few hours. Memory has served as a mentor. And aspiring nurses have completed their preceptorship at the hospital, in which they’re paired with a nurse to learn to build their independence. Once they’re finished that period, they’re prepared to go on their own with the support of their co-workers.
Memory noted she is also grateful to the community for supporting the hospital, and she hopes to see excellent support for the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation’s Radiothon for Life fundraiser, which runs from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. on May 4 on Golden West Broadcasting’s Estevan radio stations.