After Stephanie Dekker worked in the veterinary industry for a decade, she decided it was time for a change. She wanted to work directly with people and explore different opportunities in the medical field. Dekker is currently in her second year of the three-year-long Registered Nursing program at BCIT, where they are working in the hospitals and learning about pandemic responses day-by-day. If there are any outbreaks in the hospital unit they’re working in, the students will transition to online learning during the 14-day waiting period.
During a four-month school break due to COVID-19, Dekker worked as a Resident Care Aide. There, she gained insight into coping mechanisms and navigating the medical field in this unknown time from other seasoned healthcare workers. “[I] remind myself that I have not entered the nursing world for my own comfort. I entered this profession to help others knowing there is a risk to myself. I find it very empowering and helpful thinking in this way because it takes my eyes off of my own worries and helps me focus on something bigger,” says Dekker. As for her goals this year, she looks forward to mastering new skills, and gain confidence as a nurse, including critical thinking through patient scenarios. Understanding exercise can fall through the cracks of a busy schedule at BCIT, she also hopes to maintain her healthy workout routine that developed during the summer break. The BCIT Nursing program is keeping the students on their toes according to Dekker, with constant schedule changes, clinical rotations, and the exhaustion that comes with it.
With so many adjustments to navigate in school, Dekker notes simply getting through this term is an achievement in itself. All students have been affected by COVID-19 in some way, and Dekker empathizes with medical students worrying about working during a pandemic. “A lot has changed, and probably a lot more will change. I would just encourage anyone anxious, you are a lot more resilient and capable of getting through this than you give yourself credit for,” says Dekker. Although stressful, she says she has no regrets about her educational path and career change. During this chaotic time, Dekker finds solace in her religion and knowing her cuddly dog, Tucker, is waiting for her at home.