From a young age, Bethany MacIsaac knew she wanted to be in a profession that allowed her to help people.
Originally she thought she would become a physiotherapist, but eventually she settled on becoming a nurse, liking how the profession came with a lot of career opportunities.
“You can move anywhere in the country and have a job. Plus there is such a variety,” she said, “There’s acute care nursing, long-term care, community nursing and the community really spoke to me because it’s very health promotion and illness prevention and population health base which I was drawn too.”
Her career started at Prince County Hospital. Then for a couple of years she worked out west in Calgary as a high risk antepartum – postpartum nurse. She returned to Prince County Hospital when she moved back to PEI, working as a float nurse. She also worked on the medical floor, with mental health and addictions, as a casual nurse at the Community Hospital in O’Leary and was a Public Health Nurse for about nine years.
But since last September, Ms MacIsaac has found a new role on the student well-being team for the Westisle Family of Schools as a Comprehensive School Health Nurse. The student well-being teams work in schools advising, consulting and providing direct service to children and youth who are struggling with mental, social and physical health issues. Teams are made up of five individuals, two registered nurses, two youth outreach workers and one mental health clinician. One aspect of their role is to run different type of groups. Anxiety groups and girls group are two examples.
“The girls’ groups teach things like self-esteem and risk behaviour while the anxiety groups help children with emotion regulation and builds up their resiliency and their strategies to help cope with anxiety or stressful emotions,” explained Ms MacIsaac.
The team is also trained in Triple P, a parenting program funded through the province.
“We do presentations in schools as well, providing education on mental health literacy as well as physical health and well-being,” she said.
Team members do one on work with children and their families as well. As a RN, Ms MacIsaac does a lot of liaison work and collaboration by connecting together homes, schools, families and as well as other caregivers that might be involved with the child and family, in order to enhance the overall well- being of an individual child.
Ms MacIsaac said she loves having the chance to work within the school environment.
“It’s holistic and comprehensive, which was very attractive to me,” said the O’Leary native, “Anything I can do to help families in West Prince is wonderful. I was ready for a change and I thought this sounded like a wonderful initiative. Mental health issues are prevalent all across the country, especially in our province and our little neck of the woods. I wanted to be involved in anything that could help.”
Ms MacIsaac said her 20 years as a nurse has been amazing.
“It’s been challenging and rewarding and I’ve been learning something new every single day, which is wonderful. It’s been easy to move around and try new things in a nursing career,” she said.