Nursing A Community Back to Health: Shania Petit’s Healthcare Journey
Nursing during a pandemic is a challenge, but it’s one that Shania Petit has risen to. “I would say people, including myself, are still pretty panicked, but remaining calm. We’re still putting patient care first,” she explained. This might not have been what she expected to encounter when she made her career choice, but she’s doing what she can with what she has to take care of people in difficult circumstances.
Shania Petit is a registered nurse who grew up in Buffalo Narrows, Saskatchewan. She moved to La Ronge so her mom could pursue her educational goals. Petit’s mom was a teen mom of three who persevered with her education throughout her pregnancies. La Ronge was where Petit herself reached her own goals for schooling, completing high school and ultimately, her nursing studies.
As soon as I didn't believe in myself, my motivation just stopped and I focused my attention on other things.
Petit struggled with confidence in high school and it made an impact in her grades. Raised in a family of educators, Petit stumbled on her own career choice. While she admired their field of work, she didn’t feel passionate about it herself and decided to challenge herself in nursing. She did upgrading at Northland College for chemistry, biology and math, learning from her high school teachers who had also moved over to Northland. With improved focus, her grades improved and she became more confident. That’s when she decided to apply for nursing.
“I just decided one day that I was going to do it and I set my mind to it.”
Petit is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. She was inspired by her hardworking single mom who raised her and her sister, provided for them, obtained a masters degree and a degree in education all on her own. Her mom was shocked but excited that Petit decided to pursue nursing.
I was 22 years old and really never left home except for traveling a couple of times, but I knew that I needed to leave and I just wanted to get out.
Once she had her degree, she moved to North Battleford to get her first nursing job. Her advice to youth leaving their home community in search of opportunity is, “Honestly, just do it.” She knew it was time to move on when she made the decision for herself. She didn’t know anybody in her new town but a year later she’s still there and happy.
Petit is living a future she never imagined for herself and looking back, she has advice for her past self.
“Going back to high school when you're in it and you're at that age, it just feels like every decision you make is going to affect the rest of your life when it's really not that true at that point. Basically it's just never too late to try again,” she advises.
To keep her mental health in check over the pandemic, Petit has been connecting with family, getting outdoors as much as possible and connecting with people online. Her work helps keep her in check too. While she found solace in commiserating with colleagues over the challenge of their shared experience nursing during a pandemic, she loves what she does and loves going to work.
The pandemic has created a learning curve for her as a nurse, but she and her colleagues are learning how to operate in challenging conditions. “When this first hit, we wanted to make sure that we had room, preparing for the worst. Every day there are new policies and procedures that we need to learn quickly. It's just a lot of information, but we've been supporting each other and trying to stay positive,” she recounted.
By believing in herself, Petit created a life where patients and colleagues could believe in her and she found the confidence she needed to leave to start somewhere new. With the example of a single mother who cared for her in tough times, Petit is extending care to her new chosen community as it faces its own challenge of a global pandemic. Putting patients first and using the determination that helped her pursue her career in nursing, Shania Petit is an Indigenous role model contributing to community wellness.
Thanks to Alison Tedford for authoring this article.
March 2022 update: Shania moved to Saskatoon in August 2020 and currently works at Royal University Hospital as a float pool RN, a permanent full-time position which she loves.
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