A health care student in a simulation lab

How I found my place in health care

Boozhoo, my name is Nicole Johnson. I am currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) program at Seven Generations Education Institute/Lakehead University. I have always been interested in helping others, I just wasn’t 100% sure what career that would lead me to. 

Finding my passion for helping others

Because of some of the personal experiences I had growing up, it was always in my head that I would be a social worker. I wanted to use these experiences to make a difference in the lives of others, specifically children and young adults. When I realized later in college that this was not the field for me, it was easy to switch gears and start becoming a Registered Nurse.

After high school, I moved to Thunder Bay where I enrolled in the Child and Youth Worker Program at Confederation College. Through this program I was able to gain experience through placements; one at Dilico Day Treatment Center, where I worked with elementary school-aged children exhibiting behavioral struggles within their community, and the other with Short Term Assessment and Treatment Unit (STAT), a treatment program for aged 10-18 children experiencing behavioral troubles, extreme crisis, or high risk of self-harm. Although I was incredibly thankful for these experiences, I knew in my heart that it was not the right career choice for me. 

A month or so after, I began working in home health care at Saint Elizabeth Health, where they provided the training and courses to become a home support worker. I became more and more interested in medicine, treatment plans, medical research, diagnoses, and disease prevention and later began working at Chartwell Retirement Residence. I am so incredibly grateful for these opportunities to work in the healthcare field because there was no doubt in my mind that this is the right career choice for me.

Studying close to home

After I had my son, Greyson, I decided to quit my job at Chartwell and move back to Fort Frances. Being a single mom, I had to think about the next move for me and how I would better our lives, and to moving back to Thunder Bay for school was out of the question. When the BScN program was being offered at Seven Generations Education Institute, it was like everything had fallen into place for me. I applied to the program right away and thankfully got accepted. Since my son and I had already established our lives here, studying close to home was a blessing. I had incredible support from my family and friends as I transitioned from Thunder Bay back to Fort Frances, as I pursued my education, and raised my son. I would not have been able to do it without them.

Finding support at school

So far, my experience at SGEI has been amazing. SGEI offers a wide range of post-secondary programs allowing me to stay in my community and be attentive to my son. SGEI has impacted my life significantly because my coordinators and instructors have been so accommodating, helping me find success in my program. They offered tutoring if needed, check-ins from my teachers, and many cultural learning opportunities to help me get back into and learn about my culture.

Choosing a specialty

As far as my personal goals for the future, I see myself graduating from the BScN program and continuing to work in the community. There are many nursing specialties to explore, but after working in mental health and addictions, I can say that it’s one of my top choices thus far. I took an interest in mental health and addictions when I got a job as an RN Student at Mino Ayaa Ta Win Healing Centre. In 2018 my sister lost her battle with addiction, a battle she struggled with for most of her life, so working with this organization was something that I was passionate about.

Through my career, I want to support and improve the health outcomes for Indigenous peoples in the community. I want to help and support individuals to break their addiction to drugs, alcohol, or other addictive substances. I want to be a support to help individuals live a clean and healthy lifestyle and support them on their journey to recovery through cultural services and interventions. 

My advice for new health care students

If you are passionate about helping people and making a difference in their lives, working in health care can be one of the most rewarding career choices. There are various career directions and stimulating work environments. You are constantly learning new skills, comforting those in need, and helping others and their families. Nursing offers a unique opportunity to help people achieve a healthy state of well-being, which is one of the most important aspects of life. 

Apply to the BScN program today

If you are interested in taking the next step and joining the healthcare field, SGEI offers numerous programs. The BScN program is now accepting applications for September enrollment at all three campuses, Fort Frances, Kenora, and Sioux Lookout!