During a global pandemic, healthcare workers are hit hard, working overtime to try and help as many people as possible. This week’s Sprott Shaw Hero, Peter Ashworth, is a dedicated and passionate healthcare worker who always places his patients first.
Peter’s passion for healthcare is thanks to one of our advisors, Karen Moon. As Peter says, “Honestly, I had no interest in pursuing a career in healthcare until I met with Karen Moon, Admissions Advisor at the Sprott Shaw Nanaimo campus, who enticed me with two words: Correctional Nursing. I had no idea what that meant but it sounded like something I could do! I jumped on board and focused on Correctional Nursing throughout my schooling. Through that pursuit, I learned about addiction management in a correction setting, and then ultimately about addiction nursing.”
At the end of his schooling, Peter was fortunate enough to have spent his last practicum and preceptorship on the same floor and with the same team at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. What he learned in that time working was that if he worked hard and engaged himself as a supportive member of the team, the team would welcome him. Since then, he has applied that mentality to every employment situation in the same way and it has always paid off.
In 2012, Peter graduated from our Nanaimo campus after taking our Practical Nursing Program. Within 90 days of completing his program at Sprott Shaw, Peter was employed in addictions at the Edgewood Treatment Centre and the Nanaimo Correctional Centre. However, receiving those two opportunities were not exactly an easy journey for him. Even though he was able to become employed in the exact setting he wanted, he worked hard to make himself available and employable. By the time he received his first call for an interview with Edgewood, Peter had already sent out 48 resumes to all corners of the healthcare world as he was willing to take on any job and apply his skills to the best of his abilities.
From Managerial Nursing to Correctional Nursing
For the four years prior to his current position as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Peter worked solely as a manager in healthcare. He split that time between a 6-bed, 10-employee facility for residents with brain injuries, and a 111-bed, 100 plus-employee long-term care facility. Although both facilities required some hands-on care, most of his responsibilities consisted of maintaining a full schedule with his employees, being a liaison between residents and their healthcare providers, families, and the world in general, and mentoring his staff and students.
While working in managerial nursing was rewarding for him, Peter recently stepped away from his role as a Nurse Manager to return to work with his first employer in an extended care addiction facility specializing in everything from acute detox protocols to residents working through trauma-based disorders.
For Peter, being a Nurse Manager was a 24-hour job and for him, it was time to return to a specialized nursing niche where he felt his real skills and focus could be applied to accomplish meaningful goals. So today, Peter is a Licensed Practical Nurse at Edgewood Treatment Centre in Nanaimo. While his workdays vary as an LPN, much of it includes medication administration, clerical and documentation based tasks, and a genuine focus on being supportive for his patients who may be struggling with leaving one chapter of their lives behind in pursuit of a more grounded and progressive life. Peter mentions that working in addictions “comes with legitimate, real-world rewards that can’t be expressed sincerely enough, coupled with the heavy-duty challenge of being the right nurse for that particular job. There is no ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ in addiction nursing!”
For Peter, the best part about nursing in general is seeing his patients through whatever struggle they may be going through. When he sees in their eyes the sincerity of appreciation that comes from helping them, he can’t help but feel that he’s done something special.
Working in Healthcare During COVID-19
Working in healthcare is not easy – and even more so during a pandemic. In Peter’s case working as a manager, he felt the real effects of the pandemic in the facilities and staffing became a challenge with the single site orders in place. Once employees decided which single facility they would work at until further notice, a lot of the facilities lost their casual employees who could receive different work, pay, or benefits from working somewhere else. Many healthcare workers have also been working short-staffed or in overtime positions just to ensure the functionality of the facility – which has placed a great deal of stress on those who show up to work every day.
As a Licensed Practical Nurse in addictions, the hardest part of the pandemic for Peter is seeing the patients struggle. Before the pandemic, they would easily have community access and in-person visits with family members. However, this is now no longer the case, which makes it harder for them to have a tangible grasp on the goals they want to accomplish.
Sprott Shaw Support After Graduation
Since graduating from Sprott Shaw, Peter has been involved with our community ever since. As he says, “I left Sprott Shaw in 2012, and yet I have been engaged with them from that moment onward. Not only did Sprott Shaw help me decide on and excel in my career, but they have also always been there for me for advice, support, guidance, and fun. They provided references, information, and even a place for me to set up a charity event to raise money for cancer research. They have always been available and supportive for me in a professional development capacity without barriers to access. If I have ever reached out for assistance, it is always met with friendly support.”
As one of the workers on the frontlines, Peter understands that “the world needsmore healthcare workers. This pandemic has shown exactly how fragile our healthcare system can be as it relates to staffing. Get out there, do the work, find the place that feels right for you, and make a difference!” Thank you, Peter, for using your voice and making a difference!