June 24, 2022

Flex Friday: Jenna Wells

Flex Friday is brought to you by your VP Communications, Undergraduate Nursing Society to showcase the excellence of our undergraduate nursing students at UCalgary
Jenna Wells, third-year nursing student, UCalgary
Jenna Wells, third-year nursing student, UCalgary

Welcome to Flex Friday! Flex Friday is an opportunity brought to you by your VP Communications, and to showcase the excellence of our undergraduate nursing students in order to learn from each other and help create a sense of community within the Faculty of Nursing.

I am honoured to feature Jenna Wells as our first profile. Jenna is a direct entry student entering her third year of nursing in the fall, and she is an incredibly active student leader at the university. She participates in a variety of extracurricular activities, and when she’s not studying, she can be found volunteering with her church’s youth groups or working as VP of Membership Integrity for her sorority. Jenna and I sat down for coffee at Euphoria Café, and spilled the tea on all things student nursing.

Jenna Wells with sorority members of AOII

Why nursing? 
“I have the most stereotypical answer on earth,” Jenna said, grinning. “I always did enjoy helping people, and I really liked the chaos of it. There is kind of that time crunch in a lot of the scenarios. I like the high-energy.”

What turned you away from other professions like medicine? 
“I want a family one day. Nursing would allow me to have both – a career and family. I also found a lot of value in nursing, based on my Christian faith.” 

Jenna’s relationship with nursing is strongly influenced by her spirituality. “I find my faith is able to guide me and help answer questions during crises,” she explained. “It helps me identify right from wrong. Understanding and following my personal ethics and morality are very important to me, and are of course driven by my religion.” 

What has your student experience been like? 
While COVID and online school could be incredibly challenging, Jenna and her clinical group made the most of it in Term 3.

“Instead of gathering online for eight hours every Monday, our group decided we needed to start meeting in-person. We each booked time for a room in TFDL, and every Monday, we met to work on assignments. It was so much fun compared to being online!” 

Jenna also found spending Term 4 in long-term care was much more exciting for her, although the semester certainly came with many challenges. “Strangely enough, even though I’m usually the person to take initiative and ask questions in class, I found myself very hesitant to do so during my clinical placement,” she said. “As a student, I was often unsure what was within my scope of practice, and sometimes I didn’t know how to best help my residents.” 

When I asked her about a specific memory from the school year, she paused and thought for a moment. “We actually had a resident who passed away,” she said. “I didn’t know them too well, although I worked with them a few times. They were a very devout Christian.” 

I then asked if the experience had been difficult for her. She said, “It was and it wasn’t. Myself and another student were also Christian, so we were actually able to pray with her in the moments before her passing.” 

Jenna described finding immense strength in incorporating her spirituality into her nursing practice, and being able to rely on her faith during challenging times. “Having that strength made coping with the process so much easier, and we were able to provide them that comfort as we prayed for their journey to a better place.”

“I was also able to connect a lot to the residents’ families,” Jenna added. “There was one family member who always hugged and thanked me, and my clinical instructor always said, ‘It’s so nice that you let her do that.’” 

What work or extracurricular activities are you involved in? 
“I currently work at Indigo!” Jenna shared. “One of my favourite book series is The Selection by Kiera Cass, but I’m currently reading and loving the Anthropocene, reviewed by John Green.”

Jenna is also highly involved in a sorority at the university, Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII). She’s been with them since Winter of 2021. “What people don’t realize about Greek Life,” Jenna added, “ Is that it’s a really great opportunity for networking, meeting like-minded ambitious women, and giving back to the community.” Jenna has also received numerous awards through AOII. 

She shared that sororities are just like any other club, except for the commitment. “We commit to be there for one another, so you get back what you put in.” Jenna added, “Because of AOII, I’ll actually have the opportunity to attend a conference in Seattle in a few weeks. I’m so excited to network with other sorority members and attend different workshops on things like leadership!” 

She also told me more about her role as VP of Membership Integrity. “I have a lot of responsibility and actually manage a committee – my own personal team. My role involves looking out for sisters and chapter welfare, including conflict management, emotional and mental health support, advocacy, and bylaw enforcement.” Jenna added that having those skills and being part of the team has really helped hone the softer skills required for nursing. 

“I strongly recommend that everyone come to recruitment, even if they’re not intending to join! That’s what recruitment is for – to see whether it’s for you or not.” Jenna described the sorority as a very tight-knit community, especially after being isolated for so long during the pandemic. 

“It’s so cheesy to say, but joining a sorority has forever changed my life.” Jenna said she’s been able to connect with so many alumni, and meet her current mentor, a grad nurse. 

What other things do you do outside of school? 
“I work a lot with a Christian youth group called Challenge and Conquest of ECyD, of Regnum Christi.” Jenna said she enjoys supporting teens and acting as a role model. “Lots of times children feel like they’re being preached at. It helps to have someone their age to encourage them to rediscover their faith and what it means to them.” Jenna also works with Captivenia summer camp, where she’ll be continuing to volunteer with youth while also practicing her spirituality. 

I then asked Jenna how she balances all her extracurricular work with school. “You just make time,” she simply said. “I try to study as much as I can, I ask questions in class, and I stay engaged. But I also know how to prioritize other things that are important to me, like my youth group. I've been on-top of time management since high school!” 

Do you think working with youth has inspired a career in paediatrics? 
“For the longest time, I actually wanted to be a midwife. Then, in my first year of nursing, I really wanted to explore labour and delivery. Now I’m thinking about rural nursing.” 

When I asked her why, she shared, “I want to be challenged. In rural areas, you have more independence and less of a health-care team to rely on. You’re forced to do more critical thinking. I really just want to test my skills.” 

Jenna is from Airdrie, and she realized after moving to Calgary that bigger cities are definitely not for her.

“In smaller towns, there’s more of that personal connection. You get to know people better, and I think that health care becomes more personalized. Especially with social media and COVID-19, people are always on their phones. Even in-person events seem so much less personal. I would really love a rural placement in Term 8.” 

What are your biggest takeaways from your university experience so far? 
“Join a club,” she said. Jenna described it as the best way to form personal connections. “My sorority girls are always so great at keeping me accountable, especially academically. We always check in on each other and are there to hype each other up.” 

Jenna shared those kinds of personal connections have been really valuable during her undergraduate experience.

Jenna Wells with sorority members

Rapid Fire Questions

Best place to study on campus? TFDL
Self-care practices? Seeing friends and buying an iced coffee.
Plans for the summer? I’m attending that Sorority conference in Seattle, and I’m gonna keep working and volunteering with my church. My family is also going to Halifax! 
Biggest role models? My mom and my great grandmother. My great grandmother was heavily engaged in community and service to others. 

Jenna’s final words Like Mother Teresa said, ‘Do little things with great love.’

Thanks so much Jenna!