Life was no picnic for the teddy bears of Sandeep Parmar.
Now 22 and a fourth-year nursing student at UNBC, Parmar says that as a child she would splatter her stuffed bears with ketchup wounds and invite her sisters to heal them in a make-believe hospital.
“That’s how it happened,” she said, laughing.
Born and raised in Houston, Parmar visited her grandfather in a real-life hospital when she was 14. Watching nurses help him through his final days left a strong impression.
“I was very young then, but I remember seeing all the nurses who were helping him and thinking, ‘I want to do that—that’s going to be me one day.'”
That day is coming soon.
Parmar will be a full nurse next year. She has already done intensive care, surgery, paediatrics, geriatrics, maternity and mental health rotations at the Bulkley Valley and Prince George hospitals.
“The first time I got to see a live birth, I was in shock,” she said.
“I knew right then that maternity is probably what I’m going to specialize in.”
Parmar said she got an equally powerful kick when she saw surgeons perform a knee replacement.
“I was on the verge of passing out because it was my first time,” she said. But despite whirring saws and grisly scene, Parmar was impressed how the surgeons kept their cool.
“There’s music in the background,” she said. “And they’re talking with each other in a normal conversation.”
Parmar also got inspired by people closer to home—her parents have been big supporters, she has two aunts who work as nurses, and teachers at Houston Secondary got her on the right track early.
To students just starting Biology 10 and thinking about careers in health care, Parmar said the classes do get tough.
“From high school to CNC was not too big a jump,” she said of her first two years at the College of New Caledonia. “But the jump from CNC to UNBC was huge.”
Even so, Parmar said it’s not enough just to do well in class—being a good nurse also means empathizing with patients.
“Sometimes we think it’s all about pain control for the patient,” she said. “But it’s not just about their physical well-being.”
Being stuck in a hospital bed can quickly strain patients, she added.
Nurses can help a lot just by spending time talking to patients and showing that they care.
“I think it’s important to build that rapport.”
When she graduates, Parmar said she would like nothing better than to come home to work as a nurse in Houston.
Asked about the need to bring other nurses and doctors to Houston, Parmar said she knows it’s a challenge.
Among nursing students, she said the concern is that small-town clinics like Houston’s have less clinical work to do than the big hospitals of Prince George or Surrey.
“If you’re not constantly putting in an I.V. or a catheter, you forget those skills.”
Parmar wants to see Houston health services expand, and she wants to help her community.
It wouldn’t be the first time.
Parmar joined the Houston library’s summer reading program, ran in the local Relay for Life and several Terry Fox runs. She taught skating at the leisure centre and even manned the Buck Creek Dike last spring when a quick spring melt threatened to flood parts of town.
“I want to make my community proud,” she said. “Everyone knows me here.”