Commitment to Caring

Commitment to Caring

RE-ESTABLISHED Vancouver’s Annie Wang was educated and practising in China before she resumed her nursing career in Canada.

Annie Wang is Proud to be Practising her Chosen Profession

Annie Wang closes her eyes and suppresses a shudder when recalling the first time she drove from her south Vancouver home to a private college in Chilliwack. It was the winter of 2000 and she was on her way to her first class in an LPN program. She arrived in Canada the previous year and had only recently learned to drive. “It was pouring rain and the spray from the passing truck tires kept obscuring my view; it was terrifying,” she remembers. “I would look at the cars exiting the highway in Burnaby and wish that was me.” Undeterred, she was compelled onward by the dream of continuing to practise her chosen profession. 

Wang began her career in Dalian, China. A skilled registered nurse with a compassionate disposition and attention to detail, she worked in the emergency department and on a head trauma unit at one of the city’s teaching hospitals. Wang says she loved her job, and had chosen nursing, in part, because it offered her a measure of professional and financial freedom. 

Nursing is also where she felt at home. “I enjoyed the pace of it, the friendships, the skills I practised every day, and the patients and their families,” she remembers, acknowledging that the work was both exhausting and exhilarating. 

Wang’s decision to leave China was driven by the birth of her daughter and a desire to give her child opportunities she didn’t have. It was an enormous step into the unknown. Wang spent her first year in Canada finding her feet and adjusting to a new language and culture. “For a while I just walked around, taking it all in – the mountains, trees, the greenery, so different from what I’d grown up with.” 

"I had set a goal for myself and in spite of all the challenges I managed to reach it."

- Annie Wang

Wang soon began taking English language classes. “I was so shy at first, but then you realize there are people from everywhere and all are struggling to coax their mouths to say these new words.” At some point during that first year she set her mind on re-establishing her career. And that is how she found herself peering through a rain-soaked windshield on the highway to Chilliwack, hands gripping the steering wheel. 

Wang says making the 200 km round-trip journey every weekday for a year seemed a small price to pay for the opportunity to practise nursing again. “Initially I had wanted to practise as an RN, but I also needed to start working as soon as I could and so I decided to do a one-year LPN program at a private college,” she explains. Classes would start at 7:00 am and end at 1:00. “After school I would drive back to Vancouver, pick up my daughter from daycare, do housework and study.” 

At school she met nurses from across the globe. All were navigating similarly challenging circumstances–balancing childcare, part-time work, lack of adequate housing, or all three along with school. 

After graduating, Wang found a job at Vancouver’s Broadway Lodge. “It wasn’t my first choice but it was the first place that offered me a job and I took it.” She came to enjoy the work, but was surprised at how much it differed from her nursing in Dalian. “There it was nonstop IVs and dressings, here it was more about relationships with residents and families.”

Wang is glad to be nursing again. “I had set a goal for myself and in spite of all the challenges I managed to reach it.” She credits the kindness of her colleagues for helping her integrate into the workplace. “They were so welcoming and so supportive.” Wang remembers one co-worker in particular. “‘You gotta speak-up kiddo,’ she said to me -- she helped me find my voice as a nurse and as an advocate for myself, my colleagues and all the people I care for.” •

UPDATE (Summer 2020)

UPDATED: January 05, 2023

Is language getting in the way of clear communication in your workplace? Do you ever find yourself searching for the right way to say something? Consider attending Communicating: Essential Skills. This three-day course is designed to help members whose first language is not English.

The course focuses on the ability to communicate confidently with managers, co-workers, patients, and patients’ families. Through small group activities, discussion and role play, participants will learn to strengthen their existing skills and make themselves more clearly understood.

Here’s what previous participants have said about Communicating: Essential Skills:

  • “All nurses should do this, new grads,everyone. It doesn’t matter what language you speak. Communication skills are about how to connect, how to understand what the person is saying.”
  • “I attended because I want my colleagues to understand who I am. I tend to be shy, but the course has built my confidence.”
  • “I can communicate well with my language, but not with English. Attending this course I heard others speaking and I opened up myself and talked more instead of keeping silent.”
  • "I learned about how to listen and the beauty of silence."

To be eligible for this course you must:

  1. speak a language other than English as your first language

  2. experience language-based communication issues at work

  3. be employed as an LPN/RN/RPN

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