Our People in Profile: Registered Nurse Melissa McKinley strives to make patients’ days ‘a little brighter’

Melissa McKinley
Melissa McKinley, registered nurse at the Annapolis Community Health Centre’s collaborative emergency centre. (contributed)

“I want every day at work to be a different learning experience,” said Melissa McKinley, a registered nurse at the Annapolis Community Health Centre’s Collaborative Emergency Centre (CEC).

Only two years into her career, McKinley says it was a steep learning curve to go from student to emergency department nurse. 

However, she said, “I was lucky enough to receive lots of support from the staff in my facility.” 

“Once I started to feel comfortable and confident in my abilities as an independent nurse, I took on more responsibility. I soon took on the role as acting president of our local union, joined the occupational health and safety committee and have been involved with our CEC operations committee.”

McKinley is also quick to jump into other opportunities she feels will benefit patients.

“I received naloxone training during a clinical placement with Direction 180 in Halifax. Since then I have received additional training through NSHA and have become a site lead for the Take Home Naloxone Program.” 

“I am happy to be a part of this program, as continued education on the subject is needed everywhere. I am an advocate for people who suffer from addiction. I hope that by sharing and educating others on the topic, that I can be a part of changing the conversation.”   

The most rewarding part of nursing for McKinley – whether it be emergency nursing or not – “…is simply putting a smile on someone’s face. Patients are not typically having a good day when they have to come to the emergency department. If I can make their day just a little brighter, then that makes two of us happy.”

She recalls one instance in particular where a patient came to the department on their 90th birthday. 

“After triaging them, I found some flowers, wrapped them up in paper towel and placed them on the bed prior to bringing them into the room. They had thought that another patient forgot their flowers. I informed them that those flowers were from the nursing staff and proceeded to sing them happy birthday with two co-workers. The smile on their face made it well worth it.”

As for challenges, McKinley says lack of resources can be an issue in a smaller facility, and it can be difficult not knowing what happens to a patient when they need to be transferred. 
“I find it always leaves me wondering: What did their CT results look like? Did they end up needing surgery? Did they make out okay? I sometimes wish I was able to follow a patient through from start to finish.”

When McKinley isn’t working, she often spends time hiking, including at Kejimkujik National Park, camping with family, or walking her dog Zola. 

Thanks for all you give to your patients, Melissa!