Aug. 27, 2020

Mentor provides safe haven for student as she navigates nursing education and transition to profession

Common interest in cardiac health brings RN Pam Demarbre, BN’05, and third-year nursing student Sierra Pouliot together to collaborate

A nurse of 15 years and now a mentor to nursing student Sierra Pouliot, Pam Demarbre (BN’05) knows how important it is to support new nurses. In collaboration with Sierra, she has set a few goals for their burgeoning mentorship: to provide a safe space where her mentee can feel comfortable asking any question, get the support she needs through discussion, find advice, develop her critical thinking skills and grow her confidence.

“An environment that is a safe space to voice concerns, get advice, celebrate successes and discuss challenges can strengthen everyone involved and enhance the care given to patients,” Pam says.

“I think helping new staff and new nurses is important to help with engagement and retention so they can feel supported through it, as this transition can be a daunting task.”

As the nurse coordinator for both cardiac transplant and Ventricular Assist Devices with Alberta Health Services, Pam also has extensive experience in outpatient clinic supports, critical care and policy development. She took interest in being a mentor as she sought ways to develop her practice and help students manage the transition to nursing. She knows mentorship fosters an environment of collaboration and helps promote that practice early on in a career, especially as busy shifts become a reality and that extra learning or teaching becomes more out of reach.

Sierra initially joined NurseMentor so she could have a nurse to communicate with, someone to provide guidance and support. She found more.

Pam has provided me with a ‘haven’ where any of my frustrations, doubts or concerns can be voiced and normalized without fear of reprisal. - Sierra, mentee

“By providing me with tips, tricks, and encouragement, Pam has allowed me to bypass some of the struggles she experienced while in nursing school,” Sierra says.

A shared interest in cardiac health
Sierra expressed a passion for cardiology when she joined NurseMentor, having a younger brother who was born with a heart defect.

Growing up, I learned quickly how essential nurses are to the health-care system,” she says. A sibling with a congenital heart defect meant home-schooling for a couple of years to avoid the risk of contracting an illness at school.

“This allowed me to support my little brother throughout his countless specialist check-ups, surgical procedures and extended recovery periods. Although this period of time was challenging, it also planted memories that would yield a particular fondness for the world of medicine and fuel my internal desire to work within the health-care sector.”

Pam’s expertise and clinical experience in cardiology has been inspirational for Sierra. A common interest and passion for that area of nursing has helped guide discussions and keep them engaged as they explore the field and all it has to offer.

A new connection in a critical time
Sierra says Pam has provided her with the tools to grow as a nursing student during the COVID-19 pandemic and supported her during the last several months of nursing school. Pam has helped to normalize the struggles she experienced and reminded her that they will only make her a better health-care provider in the future.

“This support and encouragement is better equipping me to respond to challenges and build resilience.”

Pam’s mentorship has been empowering; she reminds me to become comfortable with uncertainty while navigating change. - Sierra, mentee

An eagerness to learn on both sides of the mentoring relationship is what works well for the pair and keeps the conversation flowing. This element is, in fact, the key to success for any mentoring relationship  to have both parties equally invested and eager to learn from one another.

Being a mentor has given Pam a new sense of excitement and appreciation for her profession; she’s able to see the work of a nurse through “a new set of eyes.”

“Seeing Sierra’s excitement reminds me why I went into this profession, too  before all the crazy night shifts, augmented work load and difficult tasks and I'm looking forward to helping her navigate her role as a student nurse and as she begins her nursing career.”

Mentoring really rejuvenates your love of the profession! I think mentorship will be as beneficial for me as I hope it will be to Sierra. - Pam, mentor