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Emergency Department

When passion meets opportunity.

By Alexandra Wenger, Winnipeg Free Press

As a rural nurse, you’re so much more than your job title. There’s a certain kind of flexibility in rural nursing that allows you to develop your skills in different ways.

Chandel Bailey-Morrison

When Chandel Bailey-Morrison’s kindergarten teacher asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, Chandel already knew her answer. She wanted to become a nurse.

“I always knew nursing was my calling,” Bailey-Morrison said. “As a kid I was always helping people. To this day, when I care for people, it reminds me of my purpose on this earth and it makes me feel whole.”

Bailey-Morrison’s health-care career started early, with those kindergarten dreams, and continued on into high school when she became a health-care aide and worked in both hospice and palliative care environments.

“Palliative care was the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. It’s such an honour to care for people in their final stages of life,” she said. “I have some truly heartwarming memories, including a patient who asked me to give her a bath while listening to Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World.’ She got me to dance around the room singing at the top of my lungs. We laughed until we cried. It was the best day — and literally her very last day on earth.”

Originally published in the Winnipeg Free Press as part of a National Nursing Week special feature

Her goal of becoming a nurse was realized when Bailey-Morrison graduated with a nursing degree in 2014. From a dream planned out and pursued from the early age of five, Bailey-Morrison’s career path has taken her to some unexpected places, including to Dauphin, where she is care team manager at the Dauphin Regional Health Centre (DRHC).

“While I was in college, I met the love of my life,” Bailey-Morrison explained. “She was in school for paramedicine and when she got a job in Dauphin, I took the leap with her. We were engaged nine months later.”

Together, the couple started their new careers in Dauphin with the intention of staying for two years to gain experience before returning to Winnipeg. Years later, they haven’t left and no longer have plans to.

“I never thought I’d live outside the city borders far from family. At first, Dauphin was a big culture shock and rural medicine had a significant learning curve,” Bailey-Morrison said. “Out here, our scope is a bit broader so I’ve had more opportunities than I would have in the city. Where Winnipeg sites might have specific IV or code teams, here in Dauphin we are those teams.”

During her five years working at the DRHC, Bailey-Morrison has explored many different opportunities and worked in a variety of specialties, including medicine, surgery and maternity while using her experience to help both new and existing staff expand their education in her current leadership role.      

“As a rural nurse, you’re so much more than your job title. There’s a certain kind of flexibility in rural nursing that allows you to develop your skills in different ways. You have the ability to jump in and get orientated on different units and if you show interest and want to learn, you can try it,” she added. “All your career goals can be made possible here. There’s just so much room to grow.”

As care team manager, Bailey-Morrison is responsible for half the Dauphin facility, including three of its largest units, overseeing everything from staffing, hiring, recruitment, finances and budgeting to patient safety and operations.

“I’ve been given great opportunities to climb the ladder in my career. I think my journey would have looked a lot different if I had stayed in Winnipeg,” Bailey-Morrison said, crediting the mentors she had along the way for inspiring both her interest in leadership and her approach to her current role.

“When I was a health-care aide, Monika Warren (now chief nursing officer for Shared Health) was one of the people who encouraged me to become a nurse. I’ve always said if I was ever in a leadership role, I would want to be like her. The way she speaks to people and her calmness during crisis is just so remarkable. It really stuck with me and inspires me to this day to be a great leader.”

These days, Bailey-Morrison’s everyday tasks are quite different from those she was responsible for in a direct care nursing role, but she has found her calling in leadership and is known around the facility for her commitment to staff, ability to bring teams together to succeed and willingness to be an extra set of hands whenever they are needed.

While Dauphin wasn’t in the original kindergarten dreams, it has become home for Bailey-Morrison and her family, offering small-town charm and big opportunities.

“Living in rural Manitoba offers the best of both worlds. Dauphin is beautiful and economical, my commute is convenient, and there are tons of outdoor activities and a diverse and supportive community. My definition of family has changed, and it’s here. Dauphin is home.”

This article was originally published in the Winnipeg Free Press as part of a National Nursing Week special feature. Click here for the full feature to read about more nurses and their careers throughout Manitoba.

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