Award-winning Surrey nurse ignored her mother’s advice

Sullivan resident swapped out accounting career to become a registered nurse. So far, all’s well. In fact she’s already won a nursing award

Sullivan resident Katherine Villegas recently swapped out her career working as an accountant in a cubicle to become a registered nurse. So far

Sometimes, change is good.

Sullivan resident Katherine Villegas recently swapped out her career working as an accountant in a cubicle to become a registered nurse.

So far, all’s well. In fact, she’s already won a nursing award.

“When I was a kid, I actually wanted to become an accountant,” she told the Now. “My mom was a nurse – she told me not to go into nursing.”

Her story tumbled out.

“Because she had the 12-hour shifts, and she said starting family and the work-life balance for her was hard at that time, so she was like, ‘Oh, try to go into accounting because it’s a normal nine-to-five job,’ right, and so that’s why I went into there, but I just didn’t find the career as rewarding as opposed to being in a nursing environment, helping people. It wasn’t for me.”

Last week, Villegas won the Association of Registered Nurses of BC. Outstanding Student Intern Recognition Award. She was among 17 award recipients in the 2016 Nursing Awards of Excellence, joining the stage with veteran nurses who were recognized in such categories as excellence in advanced nursing knowledge and research, nursing administration, innovation, and for lifetime achievement.

“It was so amazing. There was like lifetime achievement awards, and I’m such a baby in my career. Just seeing where my career could take me was really interesting.”

Villegas said she’s found her calling.

“I was pursuing my accounting designation but then from there I realized it wasn’t for me because I didn’t like sitting behind a desk, not talking to anyone. I tried accounting, and realized it wasn’t for me.”

Her decision to switch came with some trepidation, though.

“Right now I’m 29 and usually when people are at this age they are well established in their career. Like a lot of my colleagues in my nursing class were maybe in their early- to mid-20s, so then trying to make the decision, I was a bit hesitant but then I felt like at the time because I was still single, I didn’t have any kids, if I wanted to change careers and make a lifelong decision, now was the time.”

Villegas enrolled in Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Bachelor of Science and Nursing program in Langley.

“I was so surprised, I’m like OK, it’s meant to be because usually it’s really hard to get into nursing school, right. So then from there I learned that I really did like nursing.”

She jumped at an opportunity to work as an intern with the Association of Registered Nurses of BC. Villegas passed her licensing exam at the end of September, and now she’s working at Surrey Memorial Hospital on a medicine unit.

“The patient ratio is usually five, to one nurse, so it’s 12-hour shifts and it’s been really busy. It’s very interesting, the kind of people you get to meet.”

As for her award, she revealed, “I didn’t even know I was a candidate.”

Zak Matieschyn, president of the Association of Registered Nurses of BC., said the annual awards program represents an opportunity to recognize those who have demonstrated excellence in nursing.

“It is inspiring to learn about the work of these incredibly committed individuals, and remind ourselves of all the nurses who make a difference in the lives of British Columbians each and every day.”

Licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses were honoured.

Provincial Minister of Health Terry Lake said he’s pleased that for the first time, nurses from all four designations have come together to celebrate the achievements of the entire nursing profession.

“Working together is a key component of patient-centred care and I really appreciate this collaborative approach to creating a balanced and unified approach to nursing,” Lake said.

tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

 

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