This month I’m featuring Haleigh Gorrell from Canada, currently travel nursing throughout Canada! This interview is unique because it highlights the differences between travel nursing in the US vs Canada as well as differences in the Canadian health system. Read on to learn more and to see why I believe Haleigh is my spirit animal. Hint: It has to do with champagne and a Stanley Cup.
Tell me about your background. Where do you call home? If you’re currently traveling, where in the world are you?
I am a surgical nurse from Northwestern Ontario, Canada! I am currently on assignment WAY up in Fort Nelson, British Columbia. It’s right on the Alaska Highway and I have been loving the northern life this winter!
Interested in visiting Canada? Check out these articles to spark your wanderlust!
What kind of nursing do you do and how long have you been a nurse?
I have been a surgical nurse for three and a half years! I love surgical nursing and come from a very busy acute surgical hospital back home.
Why did you choose to become a nurse?
I feel like the typical answer is “to help people”. That is one part of it, but it goes a bit deeper for me. I love being able to improve other people’s lives and help them recover and improve their health. I also love communicating with people and being impacted by everyone around me. If I can play a small role in making someone’s day better, or encouraging someone, then I am thrilled!
How did you choose which unit you wanted to work on?
I did a placement in my final year of nursing on one of the surgical floors I now work on. I fell in love with the fast-paced environment and all the various post-operative patients we cared for. At my home hospital, every new grad goes on to a nursing resource team, and you are placed at one of your three picks for a unit to work on. I got my first choice of Surgical and have really enjoyed it ever since.
Tell me a little bit about healthcare in Canada. Is there anything unique or different about healthcare in your country?
I could go on and on about this topic! I did write a blog post for The Gypsy Nurse which talks a lot about the differences! Healthcare in Canada is free. We may end up paying higher taxes but when we go to the hospital for care or for non-elective surgeries, we do not get sent a bill after! I find that people do take advantage of the system because of this, but it really is universal health care for all. I love that we do not have to refuse care or alter our care for patients based on their insurance or what they can afford. That concept is so foreign to me.
For nurses, we have two types. There are RPNs or LPNs (registered practical nurses or licensed practical nurses). This requires two years of school and the scope of practice is slightly limited compared to the other type which is registered, nurses. To become an RN, you complete a four year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, or some universities offer a three-year condensed program. All health care is public, nothing is privatized. It is all run by the provincial governments and funding comes federally. Sometimes there are a lot of cuts in certain provinces which leads to issues with short staffing and a lack of beds etc. Sometimes the wait times to see surgeons or specialists can be long due to a lack of other options. I hope that gives you a bit of a glimpse into the Canadian nursing life!
Tell me about travel nursing in Canada. How does travel nursing differ in Canada vs the US?
Travel nursing in Canada is mostly different in the sense that we only have two main travel agencies for the whole country. It’s very easy to pick an agency this way! You are randomly assigned a recruiter and they place you in whichever province you are licensed in. We do not have any compact licenses up here; each province has a different college of nurses and a different license. Provincial licenses range anywhere from roughly $300-$1200 for each annual license. Having licenses in multiple provinces can add up but it definitely gives you more options!
Another big difference is that our contracts are quite short in comparison to the US. We don’t do 13-week contracts like the States. We do have more flexibility to decide how long we want to be on assignment. I’ve done 3-weeks, 6-weeks, and 8-weeks. Some people choose to do 1-week assignments! It’s so nice and flexible this way although it is a lot more work to find consistent work if you want to travel full time. I’ve been able to see so much of the country through travel nursing! I’ve had amazing experiences and I wouldn’t change it for the world!
I’m a huge advocate of preventing nurse burnout. What does nurse burnout mean to you?
To me, nurse burnout means being overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. It also means not utilizing proper self-care when these things occur.
Have you ever experienced nurse burnout yourself?
Yes, 100%. For me personally, it was more the feeling of being trapped in my full-time position. At that point in my life, it just wasn’t healthy anymore and I had to take a bit of a break to travel and do some soul searching. This eventually led me to be a travel nurse. I feel that I am now truly living my best life and I do not feel burnt out when I am consistently changing my work environment every couple of months.
How are you trying to combat or prevent nurse burnout?
Traveling is a huge part of this. I love being able to travel in between contracts and getting a break away from the busy hospital life. I also try to practice good self-care and do the things I love in my off time so that I am grounded and can provide the best care for my patients. I love reality TV, watching hockey, and listening to a few different podcasts. I also love writing articles for my blog, I find it so therapeutic sharing my experiences with other people.
Before ending, tell me one fun fact about yourself unrelated to nursing.
This took me way too long to answer! Something fun about me is that I drank champagne out of the Stanley Cup when my friend won it a few years back! As a huge hockey fan, it was one of the coolest days of my life!
Where can people find you on social media?
My Instagram handle is @thetalesof.hales or you can follow my blog thetalesofhales.com!
If you want to talk about your experience with nurse burnout or know someone who does, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org