Chloe Crosschild (BN ’14) always knew she wanted to be a nurse. Even as a small child, Crosschild dreamed about one day becoming an RN, so when she was accepted into the Bachelor of Nursing program at the University of Lethbridge, getting started was the first step toward achieving a lifelong ambition. What Crosschild didn’t know however, was that her journey through the program would lead her career in an unexpected direction and change the way she thinks about health care.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I first started, but I quickly discovered that the U of L nursing program is a learner-centred environment,” says Crosschild. “Every student is treated as an individual, and the approach is, how can we help you learn? What can we do to make sure you’re successful? The professors are not just there to teach, but to work with students one-on-one.”
Crosschild says that the student-centred philosophy of the program set the stage for the sort of care U of L nursing students learn to provide.
“It’s a very holistic point of view,” says Crosschild of the program. “It was clear from the beginning that good health care isn’t about treating a particular diagnosis, it’s about treating a whole person – their background, their beliefs, everything. We as students are treated as individuals with unique sets of needs, and we learned that it’s important to look at patients in the same light.”
As a member of the Kainai First Nation, Crosschild believes that the holistic approach to health care she developed at the U of L will help her advocate for aboriginal patients.
“The number of First Nations people moving into urban centres is getting larger all the time,” she says. “It’s essential that aboriginal people feel comfortable in urban health-care facilities and receive care that respects their lifestyle and traditions. Through my education I’ve learned to be a voice for my people within the health-care system. I feel like I’ll be able to help bridge cultural divides.”
Crosschild originally planned to go into acute care, but once she was ready for her preceptorship, she was was told that all the placements in that area had been filled. Crosschild accepted a preceptorship in public health instead. As it happened, that chance placement turned out to be a perfect turn of fate.
“I absolutely fell in love with it,” Crosschild says of public health. “I get to work with patients of all ages and there is a great team atmosphere, but what I enjoy the most is the upstream approach to health care. Public health nurses address issues before they become a problem. They put prevention into action. I knew right away that I wanted to be a part of that.”
Crosschild started a public health nursing position at Lethbridge Community Health Centre in May 2014. She feels that her education in combination with her cultural heritage will serve the health-care needs of First Nations populations very well.
“Understanding aboriginal language and traditions will help me provide better care for First Nations people,” says Crosschild. “I’m very excited to put everything I’ve learned into practice.”