You never forget your first IV start.
For Rosemary Burness, this means being remembered by more than a few of Alberta’s medical professionals – many of whom have shakily put their first IV’s into Rosemary’s own arm. But bravery isn’t the only reason that people remember Rosemary. Over a 40 year career in nursing, administration, teaching and consulting, Burness’ skill and passion has left an impression throughout the province.
As RPAP’s Medical Students’ Initiative Coordinator, Burness helps to organize skills days and other events designed to teach medical students what it means to work in rural Alberta.
“I'm one of those people who always wanted to be a nurse,” says Burness. “I love looking after people. Over time I've been able to expand that concept beyond nursing into administration and now into teaching and working with rural communities.”
During Burness’ time with RPAP, she has worked to create a more interdisciplinary environment – using student nurses, physiotherapists, paramedics, respiratory therapists and other medical disciplines to design workshops and skills days that showcase both the expertise and teamwork that can exist in rural practise.
“Almost every student tells me that they would love to work in rural Alberta, except that they are afraid to work alone; that they will be the only person there when a big accident happens,” explains Burness. “What I try to focus on, is that there is a team of professionals in a rural hospital that you can rely on: from the nurse, to the paramedic, to the other disciplines that are there. That's the point of these skills days, to help build trust and confidence in the rural medical team.”
More than inspiring the next generation of medical professionals, Rosemary says that the added benefit of her job has been getting to know Alberta’s communities and the people who live there:
“The community groups we work with are so gung-ho, so interested in getting care givers into their communities, you never see anyone shirking their duties. I really enjoy the watching the day unfold – the thrill in peoples’ eyes when the bus comes into town, the interaction between the volunteers and the medical staff is all very fulfilling,” she explains.
Burness explains that the events are also an opportunity to get to know rural Alberta.
“I could drive by places like Vegreville or Siksika a hundred times and never know anything about them. With RPAP, I have had a chance to really get to explore and find out so many amazing things about these communities.”
Despite her long and successful career in health care, Rosemary has no plans of slowing down or even volunteering for IV practice.