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REF NO.: 173

SUBJECT: Nursing runs in the family for Memorial University grad
DATE: May 29, 2003

Maria Burke grew up with two good role models for her career choice - both her mother and her grandmother are nurses. But it wasn't until her second year at university that she decided it was the career for her, too. Ms. Burke will receive her bachelor of nursing degree on May 30.

"Growing up with a mother working as a nurse I can remember her being gone early in the mornings, but my father would be up with my sister and myself," the Memorial graduand explained. "My mother was always there for the special things, she balanced work and home well." Ms. Burke said she also remembers her mother occasionally being stressed out or upset. "She worked in oncology all her life and it was hard on her when a patient died."

Although her grandmother is now retired, Ms. Burke said her nursing skills are still in use, caring for her grandfather.

"When I first decided I was interested in nursing, my mother was very supportive. She's satisfied with her job."

Ms. Burke found the four-year nursing program more challenging than she initially anticipated. "Many people don't really know what nursing encompasses; there's a lot beyond hygiene and administering medications. You are treating the person on the social and psychological level and dealing with the family, as well as teaching the patient and sometimes being a counselor. A nurse takes on many different roles and touches lives through the therapeutic relationships he or she builds."

Many nursing graduates leave the province for more lucrative job offers elsewhere, and Ms. Burke said she considered taking a position in one of the Maritime Provinces. But she preferred to stay close to home and is now working in a temporary full-time position in cardiology at the Health Sciences Centre.

"For now, this is great. If I don't get permanent work I may consider leaving the province - many of the students in my class are moving away and some of the offers from hospitals in the U.S. are tempting. They'll fly you down and they offer upwards of $10,000US as a signing bonus."

As she starts her career as a nurse, Ms. Burke knows she has made the right choice for herself. "Nursing is a rewarding profession and you are continually learning. If you don't like one area, it's easy to switch to another. And, as a nurse, you can locate anywhere."

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