From May 7-11, 2018, nurses across Canada will be honoured. For National Nursing Week, two daytime employees at Actionmarguerite St. Boniface share their day-to-day experiences and passion for their profession.

Monique McGurry has been a registered nurse since 1991. “I went to school to become a nurse because I wanted to work with the elderly.” She has worked for Actionmarguerite for more than 15 years. “The organization is one big family. Everyone is here for the same reason – to help others.”

Monique is passionate about nursing and cannot see herself in any other career, “It’s a very active job. We are always learning, and there’s no time to get bored. While we face many challenges on a daily basis, we really feel like we are helping others. The patients who arrive are often very weak. We help them regain their strength and try to give them the best quality of life possible.”

Zouhair Guennouni started out at Actionmarguerite as a health care aide. “I became a nurse eight years ago. I like humanitarian work, and this job has a very positive impact on my spiritual life. You know you are doing a lot for the residents, so it’s helpful for others but also for my family and me.”

He enjoys coming to work each day at the St. Boniface residence. “Actionmarguerite is a great place to work, one of the best in Winnipeg. We all respect each other, we work as a team, and we enjoy spending time together and with the residents. They appreciate the fact that the staff is there for them, and we develop human connections that wouldn’t be possible anywhere else.”

At Actionmarguerite St. Boniface, each new shift is debriefed by the outgoing team. “After that meeting, we do rounds to make sure that all the patients are doing well,” says Monique McGurry. “We check everyone’s blood sugar levels and dispense medication, making sure that everyone is safe. After serving breakfast, we look after patient treatments and send residents off for their daily activities.”

The second part of the shift is similar. “We serve lunch, dispense medication and then meet with residents’ families. During the doctor’s rounds, we are there to schedule or perform tests, and contact specialists, as required. We continue to monitor all the residents throughout the shift, and finish up by debriefing the incoming team.”

Over time, the nurses practically become a part of the residents’ families. “We almost see them more than our own families,” says Monique McGurry. “We really spend a lot of time with them, and we treat them with respect. They receive personalized care because each resident is different. And we respect their individual choices.”

However, a nursing career also has its downsides. “It’s a stressful occupation,” admits Monique McGurry. “So it’s important for nurses to take care of themselves. We need to exercise and get enough sleep. It’s also an emotional job. We need to talk with our colleagues when we’re having a difficult time. Palliative care is the toughest. When patients die, we miss them, and their families, too.”

For Zouhair Guennouni, it’s a question of balance. “We need to balance our professional and personal lives, otherwise we fall into a black hole. We need to leave our work at work when we head home, to avoid internal conflict. We lose a lot of patients in a year, which is difficult, but it’s still a rewarding career.”

Actionmarguerite has set up a resource for residents and staff to help them deal with death. “Our spiritual support includes time to talk with the residents and express our feelings,” says Monique McGurry. “A service is held to remember the person who has passed and their family.” Zouhair Guennouni adds, “Actionmarguerite makes sure that everyone has the support and follow-up they need at such times.”