In April 2019, Jenn Voegtlin attended an RhPAP “Let’s Go Rural!” Post-secondary Experience in Tofield as a University of Alberta nursing student.
The following September, after graduating as a registered nurse, Voegtlin returned to the community to begin her nursing career at the Tofield Health Centre.
Cyndy Heslin, is chairperson of the Tofield Community Attraction & Retention Committee. She was heavily involved in organizing the post-secondary experience in Tofield that Voegtlin attended.
Recently, she visited the Tofield Health Centre for a COVID-19 safe chat with Voegtlin to ask her what the key factors were in her decision to return to Tofield to practise.
Cyndy Heslin: Was there anything that made you decide that, yes, I’m going to go rural or [did] you already [have] that plan in place?
Jenn Voegtlin: For choosing [Tofield and] this hospital in particular, it was the [“Let’s Go Rural!”] skills weekend [that helped make my decision], because you got to see the community, meet the people in the community, as well as see what the hospital has to offer, [and] get a feel of what the team is and what management is like. So, it was kind of an inside look, without being a formal job interview. … I was able to interview the hospital first in a way.
Heslin: When you attended the skills weekend here in Tofield, it was a new experience for any student, because it was the first time that billeting was offered to students, rather than staying in a hotel.
Voegtlin: I think, [billeting] enriched the experience. The person who lives [in the home where you are staying] is able to tell you even more about the community. You’re able to see where they live and how they live [and] you already have an acquaintance in that community.
The people that were involved in the weekend, when I do see them around the community or when I do run into them at the grocery store, or if they come in as patients, there is that comfort level. In that transition period, [when you are] still getting to know your community, and still planting your roots, you see some familiar faces around, because you had that positive experience and that positive introduction into the community with billeting.
Heslin: If other students came up to you and asked you how … the [Lets Go Rural! Post-secondary experience was]? Would you recommend [they] go to one?
Voegtlin: Hands down. I think, it opens people’s minds to the rural nursing or even the rural health-care experience. [The rural nursing experience] is so broad [that] in any one day, especially in emergency, you see a wide variety of patients.
I think [as nursing students] in school, we are pushed to specialize, but what I enjoy about rural nursing is the fact that I get to see a wide variety of patients and I’m not just in one niche. I get to broaden my skills and increase my skills quite rapidly with all the wide variety of cases that I do see.
So, that’s what keeps things exciting. And, I feel like you’re not burnt out as much or you’re not getting stalled in your learning experience. [Y]ou just get to grow maybe even a little bit quicker, I’d argue, in the rural area.
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