Reflections from a veteran nurse


Written by by Brenda Hutton RN

Greetings SNIG members,

I am Brenda Hutton, SNIG's communications ENO. I work as a casual staff nurse in a tertiary care psychiatric facility and work with clients with mental health problems including depression, suicidal tendencies, anxiety or debilitating psychosis. I know many of these patients well as they have frequent and long-term admissions. 

At my facility, there are crisis interventions and code whites (agitated or aggressive patient incidents) regularly, however, the work culture is positive, progressive, collaborative and supportive. 

I have worked as a nurse for 45 years and still very much enjoy my work as a staff nurse. I would like to share some advice with you that has helped me as a nurse. 

  1. Be active in your professional organization. RNAO is a source of up-to-date information about the profession and the health-care environment, and a way to network with enthusiastic and progressive nurses.
  2. Try and find work that suits you personally. As a casual staff nurse, I am able to avoid night shifts and can be unavailable for work when I have family or leisure commitments. I also work on different wards and am exposed to many staff and patients and find this stimulating. I also work in a friendly hospital where I can walk through the hallways and say hello to many patients and staff. 
  3. Try to go outdoors daily. My workplace has a forest, ponds and trails nearby. Most lunch hours, I go for a walk outside. I also ride my bike by the river or walk around my neighborhood when I'm home.
  4. I like to be involved in the arts for a change from work. I go to music festivals, concerts, literary events. I am a member of a Sacred Circle Dance group and a ukulele sing along group. I have been playing the ukulele for over a year and it makes me happy to sing and play at home and in the group. I consider the dance and music part of a spiritual practice.
  5. Make quality time for friends and family. I enjoy lunches with friends at a nice restaurant.
  6. Go to a few learning events a year. In London where I live and work there are excellent enjoyable Geriatric or Psychiatric Refresher Days. Learn something new and different every year such as learning how to play an instrument, or joining a choir.
  7. Mentor junior staff and regularly work with students. It is rewarding to support and work with new staff and new members of our profession. I took one of my students to RNAO AGM this year. 
  8. I enjoy reading and am a member of a book club. Reading is like a relaxing vacation for me and I learn about other realities. I recommend reading native writers and writers from other cultures and experiences than your own to expand your horizons. 
  9. Listen to CBC Radio to increase knowledge and listen to intelligent conversations and analysis.
  10. Express gratitude daily - for family, friendships, health, work. 
  11. Accept that there will be troubles and difficulties in life.
  12. Live as humbly and modestly as you can, avoid debt.
  13. Be generous - it is in giving that we receive. 

Live richly and thanks for the important work you do,

Brenda Hutton RN
Communications ENO
Staff Nurse Interest Group