Barb Stahl is currently employed in a complex care unit within a health authority long term care home. She studied practical nursing in Edmonton obtaining her first license 28 years ago and has since worked in many different areas in both public and private systems in Alberta, British Columbia and in the US. Barb started her career in health care as a care aid at the age of 13 until pausing to have a family. Upon returning to health care she opted to work as a nurse’s aid at a mental institution in Red Deer because, at the time she was working to support her family, the aids were making the same wages as the registered nurses so it made sense to just get to work instead of taking time to obtain education. She describes herself as thirsty for knowledge, always seeking learning opportunities and willing to share her knowledge through mentoring. Barb will tell you her best job was working at Camrose Hospital where the Nuns made her feel as though her contributions to the team were highly valued. The Nuns were amazing mentors, providing support and learning opportunities every day. The second job that Barb will tell you was hard to leave was in a private very large medical clinic in Nashville where she worked alongside a physician and was given unlimited trust and support in setting up and maintaining the clinic. Barb states that it was there in that clinic that she learned the most, where she felt most appreciated, and where she was encouraged to use all of the skills within her scope of practice. She has had some “humdingers” for jobs where she couldn’t stay because of her personal values and has accepted challenges throughout her career, she just gets to work and takes care of the people. Mentoring and teamwork are critical components of Barb’s vocabulary and work style and she is always an advocate for LPN’s and LPN practice.
What are you most proud of? I am not proud, I am grateful. I have a great sense of satisfaction when I feel that I have been able to do good nursing work and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and for the people that have impacted my nursing career.
What do you hope for when you think about LPNs in BC? LPNs are going to be leaders. In fact, they already are! They want to do the work. They want to do what’s needed to provide the care. They are often the glue in the care teams. RNs, sadly, are getting farther away from the bedside and basic hands on care with all of the paperwork and specialty education that is being required of them. I wish that LPNs in BC would all have the same kind of opportunities that I’ve been given throughout my career. I have been fortunate to find teams where my questions were always welcomed and my contributions always appreciated. I have been the beneficiary of great mentoring and I wish this for every nurse. It would be my dream that all LPNs be given the chance to work with great teams and be allowed to use all of the skills that are within our regulation. I have worked successfully in areas where I have been given great responsibility and safely delivered care in many ways. I have been allowed to monitor INR’s under an MD as per protocol, drawn blood, started IVs and given medications via IV (all but cardiac), managed complex wound care including vacuum dressings, provided vaccinations to clients of all ages from baby to senior, and many other tasks as part of a collaborative team (in USA). LPNs are capable of great things, they just need to be given the chance.