Before COVID-19, you often could find registered nurse, Debbiann Wilson, hitting a punching bag in her free time.
“I try to do some boxing, which I’m enjoying because it works my obliques,” says Debbiann Wilson, RN, who practises at the Lac La Biche Healthcare Centre.
Born and raised in Jamaica, Wilson practised in her native country for 12 years, and then left to advance her nursing career in North America. First, she practised in urban centres like Miami and Toronto, then she came all the way to McLennan, Alberta, population 700.
“Being there in a rural community has really built my confidence level and my professional level so much, that I wanted more,” says Wilson.
After three years, she left McLennan to pursue an opportunity to work in maternity in Lac La Biche.
“I assist in delivering babies, which is very exciting. I love it!” exclaims Wilson.
She found that rural hospitals are fertile ground for expanding your skills.
Wilson adds: “I’m able to work the emergency department, acute, medical, surgical units, [and] pediatric. I can work the long-term care. Just about anywhere you throw me, I’m right into it. I accept the challenges. I’ve learned a lot.”
I go fishing in the winter and, oh, that was phenomenal. It was so new to me. – Debbiann Wilson, RN
To make a new place feel like home, Wilson knows it’s important to become part of the community.
“I see what the community offers, then I indulge myself so that I can feel more comfortable,” says Wilson. “I [play] soccer and I love my soccer. It helps you to socialize. I get to know more people.”
She is also a member of the Lions Club and enrolled in a French speaking class.
There are a lot of opportunities in the Lac La Biche Region that you just don’t see in Jamaica.
“I go fishing in the winter and, oh, that was phenomenal,” says an excited Wilson. “It was so new to me. I couldn’t understand how the lake would freeze, turn [into] ice and you are still digging into it, you’re driving on it. Those were like total cultural shocks for me.”
When I came here first, they said ‘don’t drink the water because you are not going to leave.’ And I think, I drank too much of the water. Debbian Wilson, RN
With an inviting smile, Wilson encourages other nurses to come to Lac La Biche.
“Come on over. Enjoy it. Explore. Go hiking. Go fishing. There are so many lakes to enjoy. Enjoy the people. They’re so humble,” explains Wilson.
“It’s not like in the city where some persons just walk [down the street] and their head is [looking at] the ground. They don’t look at you. You go to the post office [in Lac La Biche] and they say, ‘hey, I haven’t seen you in a while. How have you been doing?’ That makes you feel wanted, that you should be here.”
Wilson is coming up on her three-year anniversary practising in Lac La Biche.
“When I came here first, they said ‘don’t drink the water because you are not going to leave,’” she says with a laugh.
“And I think, I drank too much of the water.”