Lifelong Friends Launch Nursing Careers in Ashern

Growing up in St. Laurent, Man., Kaylee Smith and Taylor Buors went to an Interlake high school together and are proud Red River Métis Citizens. Now, there are Registered Nurses at Ashern Hospital with the help of the MMF-MET.


Kaylee Smith and Taylor Buors, who grew up together in St. Laurent, both completed their first day as full-time nurses at Ashern Hospital on Sept. 12. Although they've ended up on the same career path, they took different routes to arrive at their destination.

Kaylee, a registered nurse, graduated in October from the bachelor of nursing program at the University of Manitoba. But her journey started even earlier with summer employment as a healthcare aide at Stonewall Hospital. "Here I was able to hone some of my clinical and professional skills," she said. "I also met some of the most helpful and kind health-care professionals who took the time to teach me how to care for patients at the bedside."

Then for her internship, Kaylee gained experience in primary care throughout the region. "In this position, I was able to work within my home community of St. Laurent where I got to better understand the challenges in delivery of primary care to an underserved community and how the healthcare team works so hard to provide the best care possible, including prioritizing the French language program," she said. "I also had the privilege of experiencing the leadership side of primary care. It gave me an appreciation of how hard our leadership teams work to serve our communities in the best possible way."

Kaylee expressed gratitude for these foundational work experiences, as well as for resources that helped along the way, such as the Home for the Summer program offered by Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority. "I also had the opportunity to work as a health-care aide full-time for several summers through generous funding from the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) in collaboration with Indigenous Human Resources at IERHA. The Grow Your Own Bursary program was essential for funding my education but also in ensuring that I would work within my communities and give back some day," she said.

"These resources were so impactful throughout my education in preparing me for my career every step of the way. I was able to gain valuable clinical and leadership experiences as a student through the various positions, and the funding allowed me to worry less about tuition and more about focusing on my courses and eventually giving back to my communities."

Looking back, Kaylee always knew she wanted to work in health care but was particularly drawn to nursing. "Nursing is very hands-on and you get to be personable with patients and clients," she said. "There is also so much opportunity for growth, whether that be moving into leadership or there is always an opportunity to continue learning as you move into different fields of nursing."

At the same time, she is also grateful for the chance to work in the Interlake. "As a new nurse, I wanted the feeling of working close to home while still gaining a wide variety of clinical experiences. Here at Ashern, I get the opportunity to work closely with a large Indigenous population and serve the surrounding communities, including my own," said Kaylee, who now lives in Eriksdale.

"I feel proud to be a part of the growing number of Indigenous health-care professionals within our region and to feel supported," she said. Similar to Kaylee, Taylor always knew she wanted to pursue a career that would allow her to make a positive impact on other people's lives.

"Nursing is a profession where you are able to do that every day - this is what initially drew me to the career. I enjoy nursing because you get to meet people from all walks of life and are able to be there and help them during a time of need," said Taylor, who graduated in June from the University College of the North in Selkirk.

"In addition, I like that it is very hands-on and that every day brings a new challenge. I like that there is so much opportunity for continuous learning and growth within the profession." Ashern Hospital is already familiar ground for Taylor, who completed a three-month senior practicum placement there, with the majority of her shifts in the emergency room.

"This is integral to me as a new nurse because I am able to continue to enhance my clinical knowledge, critical thinking skills and gain more hands-on experience, all while being in a rural hospital close to home.

"Working at Ashern Hospital gives me the opportunity to provide health care to a large Indigenous population and many surrounding communities within the Interlake-Eastern region, including my own," said Taylor, who continues to reside in St. Laurent. "It felt really good to obtain full-time permanent employment within the IERHA as a new grad nurse. I am proud to work at a hospital that serves so many communities within the Interlake-Eastern region."

In addition, Taylor expressed gratitude for the help she received from the Manitoba Métis Federation throughout her post-secondary education. "The MMF partnered with the University College of the North to deliver the nursing program in Selkirk. They funded myself and 13 other Red River Métis students throughout the entirety of the program."

"This resource meant a lot to me and was crucial during my education, as it allowed me to focus solely on my studies and excel within the program," she said. "I strongly encourage others to utilize the available programs and funding that are offered to Red River Métis post-secondary students pursuing a career in healthcare. All of the support that is out there truly helps in being successful throughout your program and chosen career path."

Adding to the excitement of embarking on her new career, Taylor is energized by the opportunity to work with her long-time friend. "It feels great to work in the same hospital as Kaylee, especially since we grew up especially since we grew up together. I feel proud to work alongside her since we share similar values to provide holistic, ethical and compassionate care to our patients," she said. "It is also nice to have someone that is new to the profession that I can go to for support, especially with all the challenges working in healthcare brings."

Similarly, Kaylee shared her excitement about starting her nursing career alongside Taylor. "It feels amazing that even though we took different paths after high school, we still ended up in the same career - let alone at the same facility," she said. "I'm glad I have a friend, a colleague and a carpool buddy to share these new experiences with as we begin our careers."


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