Our People in Profile: Career change to nursing all about connecting with patients for Janice Buchanan

Janice Buchanan was inspired to enroll in nursing program after working administrative roles with NSHA and the IWK Health Centre.
Janice Buchanan was inspired to enroll in nursing program after working administrative roles with NSHA and the IWK Health Centre.

After a decade of moving around in administrative jobs, Janice Buchanan decided it was time to change her career.

At 39 years old, she came to the world of health care from a variety of positions in banking and technology. She needed to make a change and a chance bout of soul searching with her mom led her to consider nursing.

“I always thought I would work with children or animals; when I was a child, I thought I would be a vet,” she said.

“My mom suggested that nursing would be a good fit for me because I care about people and like to solve problems and overcome challenges – and there’s always a demand for nurses.”

In 2015, while covering a maternity leave in the nursing chief’s office at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, she decided to take the plunge and enroll in the practical nursing program at Nova Scotia Community College.

It was a good fit as it had an online component that allowed her to start working towards her Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) designation while working full time. Her time at the IWK solidified her goal to remain in health care.

“People were happy; the nurses I dealt with in the nursing office were happy and passionate about their work,” she said. “I really like the health care setting and the opportunity to interact with people daily.”

In 2016, her maternity leave position was up, so Buchanan moved to Nova Scotia Health Authority to work as an administrative assistant for Jean-Paul Rochon, senior director of supply chain operations.

Buchanan credits her boss for helping her manage full-time work with increasing school commitments, including clinical practicum hours,

“He encouraged me – and hired me even knowing that I may be leaving when I graduate and this was so important,” she said. “JP designed my role to allow me to meet my needs for school. I worked when I could work and took vacation to complete some requirements.

“Sometimes, I relied on a lot of coffee and short naps to get to two places in one day, but I knew it was short-term pain for long-term gain.”

Buchanan hopes to transition to her new career in 2019 and is currently working on her licensing.

Her goal is to work somewhere fast-paced that lets her work to her full scope of practice.

Most importantly, she wants to connect with people.

“The most rewarding part of nursing is building a rapport and knowing that you are helping someone out," she said.

“The best feeling is to see a patient get well and go home. There is also a really huge victory in making a patient who is not having a good day smile or laugh – that’s what it’s all about for me.”