Two registered nurses at St. Boniface Hospital with very distinct backgrounds are reflecting on what the profession means to them. Karen Falk is getting ready to retire after 42 years of service, while Sukhpreet Mann is a new grad and international student who has been on the job for less than six months.
“It’s been rewarding but it’s also kind of exhausting,” said Mann, who works in the emergency department.
“I like getting to know the patients, advocating for them, just being there for them.”
Mann is from Punjab, India, and said she always knew she wanted a career in health care. But she wasn’t sure nursing was her calling until she moved to Winnipeg in 2017.
“I knew I wanted to work in a hospital setting or health facility. I knew that much,” she said.
“But when I came to Canada as an international student I was limited in choosing a specific career like pharmacy or dentistry. So I looked into nursing and after doing some research, I knew I would like it.”
Mann graduated from the University of Manitoba and did her senior practicum at St. Boniface Hospital.
“What I am learning about the job is that you have to be professional, but also a human being,” she said.
“If you can lend an ear and listen to patients, just be there for them and support them, I think that really makes a difference,” Mann said.
Karen Falk shares that sentiment. She’s been a nurse in Family Medicine for almost 42 years and has noticed many changes in the profession.
“I was one of the first medicine float pool nurses in 1981, when I graduated,” said Falk, who fondly recalls wearing her white cap.
“I did wear my cap for many years,” she said with a laugh. “I was a bit of a dinosaur, I liked wearing my cap, I was thinking I worked this hard for it and I’m going to wear it!”
Falk now keeps her nursing cap in a memory box at home.
“Looking back at all the changes that have occurred in my career, and innovations in health care and different ways that we manage patients, it’s just very different from when I first started nursing,” Falk said.
She noted the focus that the new nurses have coming out of school now is different from when she was starting out.
“We had more of a holistic approach to nursing back then, and now we’ve become more task oriented. I think that’s likely because we are busier now, and the patients are sicker than when I first started nursing.”
Falk said being a nurse was a childhood dream for her, and she’s grateful for having such a long and lustrous career.
“I still think nursing is a wonderful profession. There’s so many things you can do with a nursing degree, it doesn’t have to be at the bedside if that’s not what you want to do,” Falk said.
She’s now focusing on her retirement, which is coming up at the end of this year.
Falk said while she’s ready to move on to her next life adventure, she said leaving St. B will be difficult because of the people she works with.
“I’ve seen so many staff come and go but we have always looked out for each other, we all treat each other like family,” she said
“My goal always was to work at St. Boniface Hospital, because I had always heard it was the best place to work.”
Falk also said she’ll miss all the connections she makes with her patients.
“I’ll miss all of it because nursing has been such a huge part of my life,” she said. “But I feel ready to pass the baton on to somebody else.”
As for Mann, she knows the job won’t be easy. But she considers it a privilege to serve the community.
“In my religion we have this term called seva, which means to meditate and serve mankind, without any thought of reward or benefit, so being a nurse is fulfilling for me in many ways.”