May 3, 2023

From student to mentor: UCalgary Nursing alumna finds her niche

Keelin Fenske, BN'22 uses her insights as a former mentee and new RN to offer valuable resources and support to first-year nursing students
Lynda Sea, Keelin Fenske and Stephanie Ng stand together
From left, Lynda Sea, Keelin Fenske, BN'22 and Stephanie Ng. Both Sea and Ng are on the Nursing Advancement Team which coordinates NurseMentor.

What to do if you are someone who genuinely loves education, appreciated being a student mentee in the NurseMentor program, but finished school and moved on to your RN career

For Keelin Fenske BN’22, it was a no brainer: she just completed her first year on the “other side,” as an alumni mentor in the UCalgary Nursing mentorship program that pairs undergraduate nursing students with alumni RNs.

“It’s a real resource when you are a nursing student,” says Fenske, now a RN in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Foothills Medical Centre. “You are tunnel-visioned on university and maybe you can’t see what is beyond." 

"But being mentored by an RN is very different from taking a courseIt’s an additional support system and a chance to talk to someone who has been through what they are going through.”

For the 2022-2023 NurseMentor season, Fenske was matched with a Year One [YO] studentThe program has not taken a lot of first years because of the current curriculum where the undergrads, who come into UCalgary Nursing directly from high school, do not take nursing courses in their first year. However, due to more mentors joining than mentees, coordinators of the program decided to try matching registered YOs with alumni RNs.

As a student, my questions were ‘what is happening next?’ I can answer that now for others who might have the same question, especially in that first year where you don’t know what you signed up for,” adds Fenske.

While a bit hesitant she didn’t have the experience necessary to be a mentor, Fenske quickly settled into the role. “I know a lot of students have a hesitancy around some specialties – they don’t know what they need to do to get where they want to be – and I also know a lot of them want a placement in ICU.  I was the same and now I am in an ICU and can give some advice on how it can happen.”

The NurseMentor Program is now closed for 2022-2023, but will reopen again to all undergraduate students and all UCalgary Nursing alumni in late September.