Nursing in the North
Austman, a nurse who worked in northern Saskatchewan for ten years, remembers
winter as posing special problems for nursing in the north. Winter created
problems which effectively isolated some northern communities. First, it could
get very cold which would cause problems for many residents in their day-to-day
living. Second, for patients that needed to be evacuated to larger centres
with better equipped hospitals, large amounts of snow could create great difficulty
for getting into or out of the community.
remembers some of her more trying times as a nurse in a small northern community.
She remembers many attempted suicides and three that were "successful." Deaths in
the smaller towns were difficult as everyone knew one another and had for a long
Nurses were often the sole health care provider in town
(traditional healers notwithstanding). This meant that any possible health
problem could walk through their door. Nurses working solo have to have
confidence in their decision-making ability as their judgment can mean the
difference between life and death. But nursing alone also can pose problems
to a nurse's safety - Austman remembers being put into a "choke hold" late one evening
by a man who was intoxicated.
some of the trials of her time in the north, Austman looks back on the experience
fondly. She remembers working closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police (RCMP), teachers and elders to create a better community. Furthermore,
she remembers that the people were wonderful and friendly and even though Saskatoon
was her real home, the people in the small villages where she worked made her
feel at home there too.