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‘Kind and compassionate’

Fall nursing graduate gains insight into profession from her mom

special feature: Class of 2020

Part of a special feature celebrating and recognizing the Class of 2020 at Memorial.

By Marcia Porter

A new fall nursing graduate has been learning about viruses and their spread for years, ever since her days as an undergraduate science student and, most recently, in her fast-track bachelor of nursing program.

New fall nursing graduate Kayla Petten is already working in her field.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

But Kayla Petten didn’t expect to experience a global pandemic during her lifetime. Or begin her nursing career in the midst of one.

“I remember being taught in a community health class that sometimes the unexpected can happen in nursing,” she said. “That is very true given our current circumstances.”

Leadership at work and at home

Ms. Petten, who has wanted to work in health care since she was a child growing up on the Port de Grave Peninsula in Conception Bay, says it’s “interesting” to be starting a career in the medical field during a pandemic.

“It’s given me a greater appreciation for our health-care system and the wonderful leaders we have in our province.”

She counts her own mother in that group.

“It is our job to be there for our patients, even in the midst of all this fear and uncertainty.” — Kayla Petten

As a registered nurse who’s spent her career working in long-term care, Glenda Petten (BN’93) had advice, tips and encouraging words for her daughter about nursing in a pandemic.

From left are Kayla and Glenda Petten.
Photo: Submitted

“I am very fortunate to have a mom as a nurse and on the front lines, and she’d already been working through the pandemic before I returned to clinicals so I was able to draw on her experiences,” said Ms. Petten.

“She shared tips with me about infection control and safety, such as how to maintain the integrity of my mask when I remove it for breaks for eating, and remembering how to don and doff my personal protective equipment correctly.”

More than the exterior

And although beginning a nursing career in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak can be somewhat daunting sometimes, one important pieces of advice resonates with Ms. Petten.

“I remember my mom telling me, ‘While no one in nursing expects a pandemic to occur, it is our job to be there for our patients, even in the midst of all this fear and uncertainty.’”

It’s words of wisdom that the younger Ms. Petten takes to heart; she credits her mom for being a role model and for influencing her career choice.

“As a nurse she’s influenced me in more ways than I probably even realize and I believe this has played a major role in who I am as a person, and in my nursing abilities. My mom taught me how to be kind and compassionate, to see people and patients as more than what we see on the exterior, to see the world through the eyes of a nurse.”

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