So, for a lot of people… jumping from a full time job in hospital as a mental health crisis nurse (basically the ER for mental health/psych patients) to a full time research degree in food research and urban agriculture probably seems like a bit of a jump. A massive leap, actually. It kind of seems like that to me too sometimes. But looking back it does make sense… so I’m going to give a little bit of background into how I got where I’m going.
I was never 100% certain that I wanted to be a nurse in the first place. I actually ended up going into nursing school because of how unsure I was. As an indecisive 17 year old who pretty much just knew that I liked science and helping people, it seemed like a reasonable choice… If I decided later I wanted to go to med school, physio school, etc. I would be well prepared academically; but if I decided I didn’t want to go to school anymore I had a degree that would give me a solid career (that didn’t involve working in a lab somewhere for the rest of my life). Case closed.
I enjoy being a nurse. I like the feeling of knowing the work I do every day is meaningful, that I’m helping people and making a positive difference in their lives. But as a perfectionist, I often find myself overwhelmed about all of the little things that I could be doing, want to be doing for my patients that just aren’t possible due to the overflowing state of our health care system. I can feel myself already starting to burn out, only 2 years into my bedside nursing career. So I decided to make a change. I’d been looking into other options – going back to school (in either nursing or a completely different field), switching to a job more based in public health or the community, or maybe going part-time and pursuing some other interests to give me a bit of a break. One of the things I did end up doing to allow myself the chance to get outside and get my hands dirty on my days off, was take a volunteer position at Evergreen (an organization looking to get people involved in the outdoors in urban settings and improve public access to green space). The position was working outdoors as an urban agriculture and environmental stewardship volunteer. I got to learn so much about local and invasive species, food gardening and food security in a community context. Even though I only worked in that position for a few months, I really started to realize how much I enjoyed it.
Fast forward to last month, when I was accepted into my Masters of Nursing program at the University of Saskatchewan. I knew I wanted to do a thesis, to try out doing some original research (something I had an interest in during my undergrad, but never really had the opportunity to pursue) but was unsure exactly what topic I wanted to focus on. Just when I was mentally preparing to reach out to some potential supervisors, I got an email from our academic advisor. A professor at the school of nursing was looking for some masters students to get involved in a project partnered with the City of Saskatoon, to focus on urban agriculture and food security (more on the project in another post). I immediately knew it was a perfect fit for me, so I reached out to the professor, and here we are! I couldn’t be more excited to get started.