Jan. 22, 2021

Nursing alumna reflects on her journey after UCalgary

Melissa Kormos, BN’13, is now case manager, home care in Grimshaw, Alta.
Melissa Kormos
Melissa Kormos

Nursing alumna Melissa Kormos, BN’13, is living the dream of working in rural health care in northwestern Alberta, although recent events in her life have led to a change of focus. Kormos, a registered nurse, currently works as a home care case manager in Grimshaw, Alta., after beginning her post-UCalgary career in nearby Peace River.

I moved to home care after the birth of my son; shift work was no longer viable due to child-care needs, plus I was ready for a change as I had been working in Peace River Acute Care since graduating,” says Kormos. She chose home care as she had an interest in wound care and geriatric nursing, which was her final focus area in her last year of nursing school.

“I ended up in the Peace River Acute Care as a new grad. I knew I wanted to work rural and did my final practicum in Innisfail for that reason,” Kormos says. “I had job offers for both Leduc and Peace River and chose Peace River as they do everything there (maternity, post-op, palliative, cardiac, general medicine, etc.). It is a very busy environment and I figured that, after working there, I could work anywhere.”

Is there any one thing that could have prevented you from getting where you are today? “The one thing that could have prevented me from working in my current position is if I had not met my husband. When I first came to the Peace River area, I planned on staying for a couple years to gain experience before heading on to another location or maybe continuing my education. I am now going on eight years in Peace River and have no regrets in my decision to stay here.”

What did you do in your spare time during your nursing program? “Spending time with my wonderful group of friends I met while in the program. We were an adventurous group and our escapades included floating on the river, camping/hiking, trips to the West Coast/Mexico, skiing, group suppers and other activities that young adults often enjoy.”

A talent you wish you had: “Artistic talent or drive.”

Your greatest extravagance: “My equipment and expenses for the backpacking trips I go on with my sister. We decided a couple years ago that, for her 40th birthday, we wanted to do the Juan de Fuca Trail in B.C. We are starting to plan for our trip out to the B.C. coast next summer to complete the Juan de Fuca Trail, as well as a trip in June to Jasper.”

Melissa Kormos hiking in Jasper

Melissa Kormos and her dog, CC, on the Celestine Lake Trail near Jasper in June 2019.

A dream you have yet to fulfil: “To further my nursing education. I would love to be able to go back to school and obtain my Master of Nursing.”

Your motto: “People have the right to make the wrong decisions. I sit on the North Zone Ethics Committee and, through my evolvement, I have come to understand that, as an RN, my job is to provide clients with information/options. What they choose to do with the information/option provided is their choice.”

What do you consider a most overrated virtue? “That you should be expected to give everything to your job. In health care, and especially during these recent times, we do so much for others that we often leave little to nothing for ourselves.”

Did you have a mentor or do you mentor anyone now? “I do not have one particular mentor; rather, I work with an experienced team of RNs and LPNs who I know I can go to with any questions or concerns. I am by far the most junior in our office the other RNs all have 20-plus years of nursing experience so, amongst them, there is very little they have not seen or dealt with.”

What is it about being a nurse? What is it about your role that keeps you going? “Knowing that what I do makes a difference in someone's life. In my current role, I am not directly involved in the day-to-day care of clients; however, what I do still affects them. I also enjoy the problem-solving aspect of my role, whether it be assessing and deciding on the best course of treatment for a wound, or dealing with the complex behaviours that are often part of caring for those with dementia. My job challenges me frequently, but it is the clients themselves that make all the stress and work worth it.”

Advice for new grads? “To not rush and to not be afraid to ask questions or say that you are not comfortable with doing something. You will face a lot of pressure from those around you to perform tasks faster or do something that you are not comfortable doing. Look within yourself and find the confidence to stand up for and advocate for yourself. By rushing through tasks or performing a task you are not comfortable with you are putting yourself at risk of making a mistake. While there is nothing wrong with making a small mistake, we are only human after all: making a large mistake is devastating and can affect both yourself and your client.”

If you’re a graduate of UCalgary Nursing and would like to share your story, fill out this easy online form.