May is Nursing Month, but for nurses and other health care staff throughout the province, it’s been more than a year of learning and adapting because of the ongoing pandemic. Recently, Meadow Lake’s Tara Heit spoke with Northern Pride about her career in nursing, changes caused by COVID-19 and her summer plans.

1. Tell me about your role and your background as a nursing unit coordinator in Meadow Lake, and your day-to-day responsibilities.
A: I have been working as a registered nurse now for 17 years and have spent most of my career at the Meadow Lake Hospital. My current role is nursing unit coordinator. Each day is always different, but a few of my day-to-day responsibilities include: assisting on the wards and in the ER if needed; rounding with physicians and the interdisciplinary team; orientation of new staff; education; assisting with transfers back from the city to home hospital; and discharge planning. With COVID-19 came many changes, including filling in on a more nursing manager basis.

2. How has your job changed when comparing how things were pre-pandemic to how they are now?
A: Looking back on the previous year and the start of the pandemic, a lot has certainly changed. At the beginning of the pandemic, it was quite stressful. Things were changing on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day. There were policies, education, mock simulations, phone calls, emails, webinars and so on that consumed the days. Most importantly we wanted to ensure we were practicing with the most up-to-date information, and we were protecting the patients, community and our staff. Scheduling of staff and ensuring our resources for staffing were met due to isolations has been daunting but we have a great team and support each other.

3. Why did you choose to pursue a career in health care and what would you say are the most rewarding and most challenging aspects of this line of work?
A: As far back as I can remember I knew I wanted to become a nurse. I have always loved the idea of rural nursing, but it also comes with many challenges. Probably the biggest challenge we face at the Meadow Lake Hospital is we do not work solely in one area. One minute you can be assisting in the labour room and the next called down to an emergency in the ER. We need to be able to multitask and change gears on a moment’s notice. I was born and raised in Meadow Lake and often know the patients and families that come to the hospital. The most rewarding part of my job is to be able to give back to my own community. Another rewarding part of my career here is having the ability to work with some amazing staff; we really support each other through the good days and the tough days.

4. Tell me more about your family and about life growing up.
A: My family is here and now I’ve raised my family here. My husband, Dylan, and I enjoy our life with our two boys, Hudson and Tucker, and our newest family member, our dog Jack. We enjoy spending our downtime at our cabin and hanging out with friends and family.

5. What are the top three things you look forward to doing once COVID restrictions are finally lifted?
A: When we start to see and feel the ease of COVID restrictions, I am hopeful to be able to travel, as I am sure everyone can’t wait for. It will also be nice when the kids can resume their normal activities as that often keep us busy through the winter. I have no concrete plans, just look forward to having the ability to travel and enjoy life.