Three new primary care providers are accepting new patients in 100 Mile House, including Nurse Practitioner Leah Young.
“It’s a lovely community, very warm and welcoming. We’d love to stay for sure,” said Young, who has been in the community for four years now.
Formerly a registered nurse (RN), Young is part of a pilot program from the Ministry of Health of creating 200 new nurse practitioner (NP) jobs in the province and improve access to primary health care. She is the first one in 100 Mile House.
“It’s similar to a general practitioner in that I can take a patient and do an assessment, order diagnostics testing, make referrals and order medications and follow up,” said Young, explaining what she does.
Originally from Victoria, she also added that it was the local clinics that worked really hard to get an NP in the community.
She has been an NP since August and will split her time between the Exeter and Village Clinics. Before then, she worked as an RN at the 100 Mile District General Hospital.
Young was an RN for 10 years, as well as a nursing educator at a university in Edmonton before moving to 100 Mile House with her husband.
Growing up, she wasn’t sure she wanted a career in the medical field until she entered university.
“I went to university and took everything and I really excelled in biology and pathology, so I wasn’t really sure. I wanted a working degree that would put me working with people and helping. Someone suggested I be a nurse but I didn’t know any nurses so it was totally foreign to me what a nurse even really did other than what you see on TV…So I looked more into it.,” she said. “I applied to the program and got in and after the first year I was hooked.”
When asked how similar nursing is to how it’s portrayed on TV, Young said it wasn’t at all with a laugh, and especially not Grey’s Anatomy or Nurse Jackie.
Young said nursing is a lot of hard work and it’s a rewarding profession, though it does come with a price.
As an RN, she found shift work very difficult because it took her away from family and social commitments and said that “weekends aren’t anything to nurses in a hospital.” She also mentioned holidays are usually spent away from a nurse’s own family and are usually spent with a patient’s family helping.
“It’s manageable but it’s really rewarding when you go to work and somebody has a need whatever it might be – medical or emotional – and you can see them through that,” she said. “For an RN it’s a really special opportunity to do end of life care for people; being with people on their last days is a really special opportunity not a lot of people can get. We’re quite privileged in that regard.”
Now working as an NP in primary care, Young no longer works at the hospital and is not necessarily seeing people at the end of their life in that setting.
She said in her new role, the reward is seeing a patient who comes in with some sort of health problem and gets treated for whatever that problem is and see them improve.
“I think it was really difficult for me to move from a bedside nurse to the primary care role,” she admits. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect.”
It took a while for Young to get where she was. In addition to the one year of general electives she did before deciding to become a nurse, she did four years for a bachelor degree in science and nursing and four more to get her masters.
Young said she has probably studied under half of the doctors in 100 Mile House and that she was excited that she was now working with them at the two clinics as a peer, rather than a student.
She said they were very gracious and helpful and kind to her as a student and they have continued to treat her like such and have never treated her like a lesser. She called it a neat transition.
“I did learn a lot from them and how to manage my time efficiently rather than getting behind so I’ve learned a lot of good strategies to care for my patients and myself,” she said.