May 20, 2021
Nursing alumna balances serious work with a sunny outlook
Things you may not know about globe-trotting nurse Jenn Hewitt, BN’04: she’s got a healthy sense of humour and you won’t find her fussing over a tidy home in her off-hours — she’d rather be playing her ukulele.
“I really feel like I am exactly where I want to be in my life, although I wouldn’t mind a nice beach now and then,” she says.
It seems at odds with the serious nature of Hewitt’s work as a humanitarian nurse who provides urgent care in disaster zones and conflict areas. What then is it about nursing that keeps her motivated?
“Feeling like I’ve done my best effort at the end of the day. Definitely working in lower resource countries where my care can make a difference to even one patient is so rewarding. Pretty much every day I verbalize that I am so thankful for my multiple jobs that enable me to have a variety of experiences, and that allow me to travel when there is a situation that I might be helpful in.”
Where are you now and how did you end up there?
“I started my nursing career in labour and delivery and have stayed within the maternal newborn focus while branching out to other areas. I still do L & D, and also maternal fetal medicine, high risk antenatal home visits and low risk clinic visits. In my spare time I travel for humanitarian work.”
Is there any one thing that could have prevented you from getting there?
“The first couple of years of nursing is challenging, and after a while I didn’t feel passionate about it. Now, with all the variety I have, I feel passionate about all my work at home and abroad.”
What did you do in your spare time during your nursing program?
“I worked as a nanny for a child with special needs and I also taught swimming lessons. Both of those actually taught me a lot of useful skills that I use in my nursing practice today.”
Did you have a mentor or do you now?
“I’ve never really had a mentor but I’ve always looked up to a recently retired nurse who made a huge change (moving overseas) in her mid-50s. She just forged her own path and I admire that. I feel so grateful when some colleagues say they look up to me.”
A talent you wish you had
“Musical! I wish that I was a good singer. I love music and I am currently trying to learn the ukulele.”
What do you most value in your friends?
“Someone who is just willing to be there and listen.”
“Don't wish for things, just do them.”
Any advice to share with new grads?
“Just keep moving forward! Challenging days will happen but it’s a great career to be in. Don’t be afraid to change your mind about the area you want to work in, and take some chances!”
If you’re a graduate of UCalgary Nursing and would like to share your story, fill out this easy online form.