Erin Anker

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

Each year my passion for nursing increases, alongside my desire to make a greater impact throughout my career as a nurse. As patient populations continue to evolve in complexity and size, there are more prevalent demands on our healthcare system and our providers. My intent in pursuing my masters and becoming a Nurse Practitioner was to address these advancing needs in a leadership role. My interest in becoming a Nurse Practitioner started during my nursing undergraduate studies at UBC Okanagan. I was fortunate to have been involved in a global health initiative during my final practicum that led me to Mongu, Zambia where I spent six weeks working on women’s health initiatives in primary, acute and supportive care settings. This is where my passion for preventative medicine and appreciation for primary care started to develop. I was privileged to lead a sexual health teaching initiative to school-aged children in multiple middle schools, while also developing and facilitating an antenatal care workshop for lay-workers throughout different clinics in Zambia. These challenging self-led projects grew my appreciation for the importance of decreasing barriers to healthcare access while focusing on utilizing education to encourage preventative medicine strategies with rural communities. This work also aided in my expedited transition to my current role as an Urgent Care Nurse at BC Women’s. Although my focus has been in an acute care role, this position has given me great insight into the obstacles our communities face when accessing primary care. As an NP, I hope to incorporate my current women's health passion into a primary care practice where I can promote sexual and reproductive health to a broader population.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

When deciding on what schools I wanted to apply to when beginning my master’s journey, I was enticed by UBC's high reputation for academic excellence as well as its proximity to my home and the people I love. UBC’s core values of inclusivity, diversity and education in a global context are founding principles that align with the values I hold as I continue to develop my career. UBC’s long standing commitment to nursing education enables its students and community to be leaders in cultivating change. In pursuing the UBC MN-NP program, I was hopeful it could provide me with the advanced nursing knowledge and tools I would need in order to address the inequities and accessibility of our current healthcare system. Further, after thoroughly enjoying my undergraduate degree at UBC Okanagan, I was aware of the standard UBC held for academia and was excited to spend another two years working and learning through this institution.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

The MN-NP program at UBC was attractive to me for many reasons, one being that it would be in-class learning with peers and colleagues. Being someone who thrives off of group discussions and collaboration this was very important to me as I started to look into different institutions.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

The best surprise about UBC so far has been the amazing life long friends/colleagues I have met in my cohort. I have been really lucky to meet so many different people who I know will be in my life for years to come, and to have them as colleagues as we enter our careers is something really special.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I am really curious to see how our practicum placements help solidify the knowledge we have been accruing over the past several months and how well it will translate into practice. I know this is a long journey, but I am excited to see how far I have already come.

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

The current state of primary health care is dire, and so I am aware that in going into this profession I will be a small piece in a huge puzzle that needs all hands on deck. I think trying to tackle the whole system at once feels so hugely taxing that it's important to remember that every role and patient encounter counts, and you need to start somewhere to get somewhere.

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

Currently, I feel as though my program is trying to give me as much information as possible to help me get a good foundation in my practice in order to be a proficient provider to my patients. I think primary care can be daunting and it is helpful to have a program try to slow it down to step by step learning, knowing that eventually it will all come together.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

In my nursing career thus far, I have strengthened my leadership and communication skills while continuing to pursue academic excellence. I have preceptored several nurses transitioning into new roles, I have taken on positions requiring high levels of responsibility and I am often called on when a patient presents with a complex social circumstance or a challenging acute illness. I am an active member of the code-blue team at BC Women’s and Children’s, where I have pursued extra training in Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) and have taken lead in multiple urgent and life-threatening cases. Further, I am a leader in fore-fronting violence-informed care by utilizing language and strategies from an extensive psychoeducation course that focused on trauma informed care, substance use, harm reduction and Indigenous cultural safety. In essence, after building and committing to continuing my development as a nurse, I feel equipped with the crucial communicative and critical thinking skills necessary to take on the responsibility of a Nurse Practitioner.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I love to surf or do anything in the water. I am a true water bug. If i have four days off you can find me in my partners camper van squeezing in studying when the waves aren't working and then spending hours in the water when they are. To relax, I am still a water bug - a bath after a long day is my happy place.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

There will always be something to do but it is SO important to take time to unwind, recharge and unplug. Scheduling out specific amounts of time for study has become hugely important for me so I am not bringing my laptop to bed with me at night and so that I can keep my stamina throughout the marathon. Know that at the end of the road there is light and so try to enjoy the journey.


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