UNB Alumni
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Nicki MacPherson (BN’14, BScKin'14) chooses to use her skills to provide care and education for students at UNB

Author: UNB Alumni

Posted on May 12, 2021

Category: Inspiring Stories , UNB Fredericton


Nicki MacPherson (BN’14, BScKin'14) is a registered nurse who currently works at the UNB Student Health Centre on the Fredericton campus and has been instrumental in the COVID-19 student-isolation project since the pandemic began. She took a beat to talk to us about her journey to get here and what it means to her to support students.

Did you always know you wanted to be a nurse?

I knew I wanted to be a helper of some kind and thought it would be between teaching or nursing. My mom was a nurse so that was familiar to me and I ended up choosing nursing at UNB.

Did you go right into hospital work when you graduated?

I took the Advanced Standing Program in the Faculty of Nursing after completing part of a kinesiology degree, so after completing my nursing requirements in December of 2013, I started working part-time at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital while I finished the kinesiology courses I needed to graduate. In June of 2014, I graduated with a BN and a BSKin and was then able to take on a casual position at the hospital with full-time hours in the medical unit where I did my clinical practicum work. It was a super-supportive environment for new nurses.

Why did you choose to come back to UNB to work?

Although I initially thought I would work in the ICU or some kind of high-pressure hospital environment, the teacher in me started yearning to come out. I started to look for a community-based position and saw a position open up at the UNB Student Health Centre. I was looking for the opportunity to be able to help change patients for the better and see it through. At the hospital, you just don’t have the chance to see that kind of growth in people because you treat the crisis and then they go home. But at the clinic we get to see students periodically throughout a situation they’re faced with and we’re able to help them grow and develop. It’s very satisfying.

What are your typical responsibilities at the Student Health Centre?

I get to work closely with students and with other health care team members every day, doing everything from triaging patients who come in, doing pre-tests, bloodwork and minor procedures, to explaining test results and educating them on their condition and their health.

Have your responsibilities changed during the pandemic?

In mid-July of 2020 I got involved in the COVID isolation project at UNB to help put together a plan and services for students coming into the province who have to isolate for 14 days. I specifically work with the domestic students on the Fredericton campus approving isolation plans and talking with students one-one. Being part of a big university-wide team helping students navigate the challenges of the pandemic is amazing – and there are many partners who’ve come together to make things work.

Has the pandemic changed you?

I’m still educating and caring for students, but I’m mostly working from home now with more phone-based approaches to care. The isolation project has been a unique experience to see the different spectrum of students and how they’re handling the pandemic requirements. Some are very well organized for isolation and some arrive in a crisis situation for a variety of reasons. I’m really glad I’m able to help them, and it’s helped me grow too.

What do you like most about applying your nursing skills at UNB?

There are so many things you can do with a nursing degree, and this position - outside the typical hospital setting - provides an opportunity for personal growth. I like that I use critical thinking skills taught to me in the program and other things that I never thought would be useful – like how to read government documents! I also really love the UNB team-based approach to health care. With nurses, physicians, mental health professionals, nurse practitioner, a dietician and others across campus, we can support students with a multi-disciplinary whole-body approach. There’s nothing better than that.

What’s the motivation that drives you to help others?

I’ve kind of always been internally motivated. I watch my parents who each own businesses and they inspire me. The satisfaction associated with giving people what they need and teaching them how to care for themselves and their health drives me.