Amanda Slanina at left

A day in the life of a Kitimat nurse

Kitimat nurse Amanda Slanina explains life as a nurse for National Nursing Week.

The details leading up to the handwashing incident are compassionately sparse.

The only details that Kitimat General Hospital nurse Amanda Slanina would (thankfully) share of her colleague to the Sentinel is that as she washed her hands, a small brown spot seemed to appear on their upper arm.

A quick scratch and sniff at the speck revealed it’s source, and yes, it was fecal.

“Now we still call her scratch and sniff,” she said, laughing.

Such is the life of a nurse, where long shifts can make you feel behind in your work — and yes that is a pun.

But Slanina, a three-year nurse in Kitimat, wears a smile to work as well as her scrubs, and works with a tight-knit group of fellow nurses.

She acknowledges the long shifts — 12 hours — and wishes there could be more nurses on at a time to handle the many patients which all demand attention, but it’s not a profession that gets her down.

“Our job is awesome, it’s just sometimes having enough people to deal with crises. When someone’s sick you need a lot of hands.”

The call to nursing came to Slanina in high school when she volunteered at Mountainview Lodge, and discovered a happy staff working there and, for her personally, the joy of helping people.

After graduation she went to medical school at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George.

Now as a professional nurse, the job description is vast.

She said days will begin with tasks such as checking vital signs, washing patients and getting them mobilized.

But other things fill in the gaps. For instance she said that a nurse acts as a patient advocate, and a liaison between a family and a doctor.

Some of the most important parts of the job are also things that most people won’t even notice.

“You don’t see how organization and time management are so important in your job, and how important everyone’s job is,” she said. “You need a whole team to make a patient healthy.”

She says that people might not notice the fact a nurse is at the end of a 12 hour shift but still cleaning up bodily fluids off bed sheets.

“No one knows you’re doing your best to deal with all your patients,” she said.

That must be why the Canadian Nurses Association honours May 6 to 12 as National Nursing Week, a special recognition for the work they do in a year.

The job does allow for continual improvement. Slanina says there are lots of opportunities to learn about other aspects to nursing.

“Northern Health is amazing for educational opportunities, they’ll train you whenever you want to learn,” she said. “We can move to public health, we can move to mental health…”

She said she has spent some time in other areas, when she becomes a bit burned out in her usual routines.

Even as a job she loves, it can take effort to appreciate the work that is done.

She thought about the sacrifices she makes last Easter, when her shifts had her working through the whole holiday.

Keeping in mind the patient’s perspective keeps her grounded.

“I was thinking about this at Easter, I was working all Easter and I didn’t get any Easter dinner and I thought ‘this sucks that I’m not getting any Easter dinner.’ But then I thought the patients are in here and they don’t get any of that either.”

Five days off after a rotation doesn’t hurt either though, she adds.

Slanina praises the people she works with, and clearly her experiences are shared by all her colleagues. It’s a tough job, but their shared task keeps them connected.

The nurses in Kitimat did get a little extra recognition this week. As this reporter left, the PA system announced that cake was being served in the cafeteria.

You’ve got to admit, that sure beats poop on the arm.

Just Posted

PHOTO GALLERY: Malicous Monster Truck Tour

The Malicious Monster Truck Tour sold out to crowds of 2,500 people… Continue reading

North Coast fishing grounds key to orca recovery: DFO

Plan marks waters from Langara to Rose Spit as critical habitat for northern resident killer whales

Chris Green, mother of scouts, passes away

Green, who was born near Kitimat, spent more than 60 years volunteering with Scouts Canada

Intertidal Music Festival back for round two

More than 20 performances throughout the day at the North Pacific Cannery on July 21

Alberta man missing on Kitimat River found dead

Body found on July 11 after going missing on July 7

VIDEO: Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

Evacuation alert issued due to Dog Creek Trail Wildfire

An evacuation alert has been issued by the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako… Continue reading

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Ontario police say attack on Muslim man was motivated by hate

Two men, aged 27 and 19, have been charged with assault in the incident

Canadian Tire delivers toys to ease kids’ street play pain in B.C. neighbourhood

It’s like Christmas for 11 kids who are supposed to be confined to their yards by strata bylaw

City orders largest Kinder Morgan protest camp to leave

Residents of Camp Cloud near the Trans Mountain work site have 72 hours to leave

Cougar shot near B.C. marina

Police were called to complaints of a cougar climbing through boats and sheds at the Nanaimo Yacht Club

14-year-old pilot attempts to break Guinness World Record at B.C. airport

Mohd Shaikhsorab wants to become youngest pilot with fewest hours logged to fly solo

Most Read