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A nursing student posing at a simulation lab bedside.

Bryn Sitarik in one of the College of Nursing's simulation labs.

Students, educators share ‘common nursing experience’

December 5, 2023 — 

When Bryn Sitarik first began studying at UM in 2016, she was interested in a business degree, with a focus on human resources. But after an experience working at CancerCare Manitoba in Summer 2018, she shifted her focus to nursing.

Sitarik, 25, started the bachelor of nursing program at the College of Nursing, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences in Fall 2022, which was the first intake of the college’s new three-term delivery model. Previously, the program offered fall and winter terms, but it was expanded to include a summer program after the Province of Manitoba made an investment to address the province’s nursing shortage. With this approach, students now complete the program in 28 months, one year ahead of the previous schedule.

UM Today spoke with Sitarik about the program and her experiences so far. 

What attracted you to nursing?

I always knew I wanted to work with people. My mom is a nurse and, in Grade 9, I went for Take Our Kids to Work Day with her to CancerCare Manitoba. She worked in the prostate centre there, so I got to see some procedures and was intrigued with the care of the patients, the anatomy and just watching what the nurses did there. When I went to university years later, I was originally pursuing other ventures, but there was an opportunity for me to work at CancerCare as a summer student, doing data entry for kidney and bladder cancer. Being back in that environment, alongside the nurses, I rediscovered how much I enjoyed it and decided to get my prerequisites and pursue nursing.

What do you like most about the bachelor of nursing program?

I love the structure of it. The biggest thing for me has been the friends I’ve been able to make. Being in a cohort has been great for me. You’re in the same classes with the same people every day, so you’re able to make those connections. It’s also a very supportive environment. We’re all in this together – we know what we’re going through and we’re there for each other.

I also love how all the professors are all nurses themselves. That was something I didn’t realize would be the case until I got in. Listening to their experiences of being in nursing school and working as newly graduated nurses has been amazing. They can relate to us. They’ve gone through this, they know what it’s like and they understand what the experience is. That has been so valuable.

What have been some highlights of the program for you?

As I’ve progressed though my nursing education, each term offers different experiences. One highlight is meeting people of all different ages and walks of life and sharing the common nursing experience with them. It’s also been great being in an accelerated, continuous program and being able to build on my practical skills and knowledge without having extended breaks between semesters.

Another highlight is getting to experience different clinical placements and getting to choose placements based on my interest. For example, for my most recent rotation, I chose a burns and plastics unit because I thought that would be an area with a variety of patients and opportunities for different experiences.

Clinical placements are an important part of the nursing program. What has that experience been like for you?

As of right now, my surgery placement has been my favourite. I really enjoyed the fast-paced environment and seeing my patients recover quickly and be discharged during my time there. I really enjoyed the patient education aspect required on a surgical ward when preparing the patient to be able to go home. I found my instructor and the staff on the ward to be very encouraging and supportive during my time there. The clinical environment can be anxiety-inducing, but this placement has helped me grow as a student and become more confident in my abilities to care for my patients on the ward. I am able to take what I learned in each clinical rotation and build on it in future placements, and eventually my career.

What would you tell someone who’s thinking about studying nursing at UM?

I would tell someone them it’s going to be a tough but an amazing journey. There are lots of ups and lots of downs, but you’ll meet such amazing people – professors, skills instructors and others along the way who will help motivate you and push you to keep going. In the end it will all be worth it. Nursing makes you tougher for sure, but it’s a great experience.

Applications for the May intake of the Bachelor of Nursing program are due December 15, 2023.

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