Horizon Star - March 2021

On the map: How a group of internationally-educated nurses made their way to Horizon — and what they learned along the way

New Career, NewWork-Life Balance in New Brunswick Dr. Marissa Attis and Dr. Rohail Kumar, Pediatricians at Horizon’s The Moncton Hospital

What happens when two physicians’ careers collide to become one? Let’s roll back to 2014, in New Orleans, when we met during our pediatric residency training. Life was hectic. We were learning about how to provide health care for children and about a new culture in a new city, with new colleagues. While the southern hospitality, warm weather, and Mardi Gras were all great experiences, we knew that this wouldn’t be our forever home. We knew we wanted to be closer to friends and family. We had both chosen to further pursue our training (Marissa in pediatric critical care and Rohail in pediatric palliative care), but as our subspecialty training came to a close, we had to make an important decision on where we would settle. We wanted to be near family and start to lay roots. The next thing we knew, we had accepted jobs at Horizon’s The Moncton Hospital (TMH), as pediatricians in 2019. It was a health care

system that was foreign to us, amidst the complexities of COVID-19. Two new pediatricians, in a new health care setting can be daunting, but we had the support of our pediatrics team here at TMH. While we are still learning the system, things are slowly starting to come together. So why did we decide on Moncton? We anticipated Moncton would afford us a decent work-life balance, in an environment where we could be close to our family, and, as a bonus, we would be close to the ocean. We both enjoy being outdoors and knew the Maritimes would provide us with a great platform to be able to do this.

skill sets to a hospital to help support children and expand on the current services. We looked forward to knowing that we were only a flight or two away. What does a typical day look like, you might ask? Well, to be honest there is no such thing as “typical.” We do work together in the Pediatrics Clinic to care for kids aged 0 to 16. Some days we have patients that need care in hospital, while other days we are solely providing outpatient care. When we are on-call, we provide care for children in the emergency department, as well as babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). While we faced many obstacles on our arrival, and continue to confront new obstacles, we are glad that we are on this journey together. We are happy with our decision to be a part of the pediatric team at TMH and we hope we can continue to grow and make changes, each step of the way. We are grateful that in these difficult “COVID times,” we can be with our family and spend time exploring our province and helping the children of this community.



While we had to give up our subspeciality training, we looked forward to bringing our

From left: Friends, colleagues and internationally-educated nurses Christina (Tina) Christopher, Janabelle (Jana) Pama, June Panadero and Kriselle (Ellie) Laude work together on 3CN at Horizon’s Saint John Regional Hospital.

They heard about New Brunswick and Horizon through active recruiting at their bridge school. At this school, like other bridge schools, there is a competitive atmosphere, as all students are on a student visa and looking for sponsors for a work permit, which helps them get their permanent residency. All four said the province, Horizon and their hospital supported them through this process. But, at the end of the day, for this group of nurses, it was all worth it. They love working together — even though, with rotations (a mix of 12- and eight-hour shifts) and full patient loads — they don’t get a lot of time together during a work day. Friendly colleagues helped make the transition easier, too. They all say they enjoy working bedside and the human interaction, especially with their older patients. Jennifer (Jen) Ervin was the nurse manager who helped welcome the nurses to the floor. Not only do they bring with them much-needed experience, to a unit of young nurses, Jen said, but also much-needed energy, especially due to nursing shortages and challenges and uncertainty of COVID-19. “Having someone come onto the unit with such as great outlook and positivity, it’s infectious,” she said. “It’s really been uplifting having them come on to the unit and bringing their different perspectives and experiences from different countries.”

residency (PR), she applied for a job at SJRH. Colleague Christina (Tina) Christopher had 15 years’ experience in her home country of Malaysia and the Middle East before coming to Canada. She’s also always worked in acute care, except for a short time in LTC when she first arrived in Canada. “You wouldn’t be in this career this long if you don’t have compassion,” she said. “It’s not just a career, it’s something within you.” Janabelle (Jana) Pama started on the unit in the first week of August 2020, after working in her home country of the Philippines and then Saudi Arabia, for several years. “It’s a tedious process, regardless of how many years’ experience you have,” she said. June Panadero, who started with Horizon as an LPN, is from the Philippines and has worked in her home country and Kuwait on surgery (OR), medical-surgery and obstetric units. She moved to Canada in early 2017 to move her career forward, and has done just that, having recently finished her preceptorship and been offered a full-time RN position with Horizon! They all agree no matter where they work, nursing is the same in every continent: You’re often working short-staffed, but, at the end of the day, your passion for helping someone achieve their recovery goals is what helps get you through. Getting to SJRH was not an easy journey, with bumps, challenges and a lot of time, effort and money.

Four internationally-educated nurses have all found a career and work they love — together — on 3CN at Horizon’s Saint John Regional Hospital (SJRH). They’re examples, they say, that show New Brunswick is on the map when it comes to international recruitment of nurses. The unit, which treats and cares for patients in hospital for general, thoracic, vascular and colorectal surgery, welcomed the three registered nurses (RNs) and one licensed practical nurse (LPN) — who is working towards her RN license — between January and August 2020. They all completed their equivalency training at what they call a “refresher” school in British Columbia where they took a bridging program for internationally-educated nurses to transition and qualify to work in Canada. The path to living and working in Canada wasn’t always smooth, but worth it. Kriselle (Ellie) Laude has been a nurse for 11 years, starting in her home city of Manila in the Phillippines. She grew up wanting to be a journalist, but was encouraged by her mom to become a nurse. “I cannot imagine myself doing another job,” she said. She started her New Brunswick nursing career in long-term care in Woodstock, but always had her mind set on returning to the environment she knew and loved best: acute care. “I feel like I’m made to be in a hospital,” she said, adding after she got her permanent

Dr. Rohail Kumar is from Karachi, Pakistan. He completed his medical school training at Aga Khan University in Pakistan. He then completed his pediatric and child psychiatry training at Tulane University, NewOrleans He further sub-specialized in pediatric palliative care at the University of Birmingham at Alabama. He joined the Moncton Hospital as a pediatrician in September 2020.

Dr. Marissa Attis is fromMoncton, New Brunswick. She completed her medical school training at Saba University in Saba. She then completed her pediatric residency at Tulane University, in New Orleans. She completed further training in pediatric critical care medicine in Nashville, Tennessee before moving back to Moncton as pediatrician in September 2020.

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