Ross Memorial Hospital - Kawartha Lakes
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A second career in mental health nursing

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Karen has worked as a Registered Nurse on Ross Memorial Hospital’s inpatient mental health unit for 15 years. Nursing is a second career for Karen, who previously worked as a hairdresser. At the age of 49, she felt inspired to go in to nursing by her brother and mentor, who is a nurse practitioner. She recalled that when she asked her brother for advice, or if it was “too late” for her to change careers, “he said that the life experience I’d bring to the role would be valuable, and that’s proven to be true.”

Immediately out of nursing school, Karen joined RMH and worked on multiple units including medical, surgical, palliative, and rehab. While she knew she wanted to end up in mental health nursing, working in other areas gave her great insight into the patient experience and the healthcare system, especially because mental health is so connected to other aspects of health.  She was happy to secure a permanent position on the Mental Health unit a few years later, and said, “I just like it so much, I’ve never left!”

Working on the RMH mental health unit “is a great career,” shared Karen, “the team is supportive and it really is so rewarding.” The unit helps admitted patients by supporting their stabilization and linking them with the right care and services in the community.

In her spare time, Karen is active and enjoys kayaking, swimming and horseback riding. She is a talented guitar player and singer, and she and her colleagues on the mental health unit often get together to play music together! She shared, “Working as a mental health nurse gives me such a sense of fulfillment. It’s hard to describe until you experience it.”

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