Catherine Dixon loves a lot of things about her career in the nursing industry, but her favourite part of the job is the connection she’s built with her patients over the years.

“Early in my career, that was my favorite part about coming to work: the people that I got to see and care for, that let me be a part of what they were going through,” she said. “That connection with people is what keeps me going, for sure.”

Today, Dixon serves as the territorial manager of cancer care in the NWT. She admittedly gets less face time with patients in her current role, but finds it rewarding in other ways.

“In my supervisory role, it’s a lot different,” she said. “I don’t get to talk to the patients at the frontline, but I get to share my experiences with the new staff so that they can build their relationships with their patients, and so that we can all work together in the cancer care system.

“That positively impacts my coworkers, which also impacts the patients in good ways.”

Dixon “always had an interest” in nursing from a young age, having watched her mother work in the field. After a stint as an RCMP dispatcher that took her to “the majority” of the communities in the territory, she entered the industry herself, enrolling in the nursing program at Aurora College. After earning her degree, she was hired onto the medical daycare unit at Stanton Territorial Hospital. She later got into endoscopy, and from there became a chemotherapy nurse, which is where her “love for cancer care and oncology started.”

Some time after, she became the territorial specialist for cancer care, and after earning a master of nursing degree in 2021, assumed her current role as territorial manager of cancer care.

Her job is “very interesting,” she said.

“I’m the manager for the territorial services that we have for cancer care — that would be our cancer screening program, the colorectal cancer screening, breast cancer screening, and we’re currently looking to see how we can implement some sort of cervical cancer screening also as a territorial program.

“We also have medical oncology clinics that we do here in Yellowknife for the residents of the territory, and then I help support some of the services for the Stanton chemotherapy unit too, which is our only place that does systemic cancer therapy in the Northwest Territories.

“Most people see nurses as somebody that you see before you see a physician at a clinic, or somebody that you may see in the hospital, but within our cancer programs, it’s almost all done by nurses.”

Nurses are extremely important in the NWT. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough of them, according to Dixon, particularly in the face of “increasingly complex ailments and the aging population.”

“We’re going to continue to need frontline nurses across healthcare in the territory,” she said. “Having people in the territory to do this work is huge and necessary.”

Nursing, of course, is not easy work. A career in the industry can be “very hard”, Dixon said, but she maintains that it is “very rewarding” work overall.

She encourages young people across the NWT to consider pursuing careers in nursing, and was happy to share some advice with anybody who is interested in delving into the field.

“Sometimes people don’t realize that there’s so many different roles that nurses have across the system and that there’s a lot of choices and routes that nursing careers can take,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when you’re thinking about nursing.”

By Tom Taylor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 06, 2024 at 09:47

This item reprinted with permission from   NWT News of the North   Yellowknife, NWT

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