If you’ve ever been in the situation of needing to visit the Emergency Department at Oak Valley Health’s Markham Stouffville Hospital, you may have come across Shaun Hawkrigg, a registered nurse of nearly two decades.
Although Shaun has been nursing for 20 years, his career path hasn’t always been linear. Shaun began his postsecondary education in the health care field, attending Lakehead University for kinesiology. After contemplating a few career paths, Shaun ultimately entered the trades and became an electrician. However, he always knew that it wasn’t the best choice for him.
“I knew that being an electrician wasn’t my calling, for several reasons. So, I looked at nursing and paramedic programs as potential career options. I liked the variety of work and options that nursing was able to offer for career progression,” says Shaun. “I had completed my electrical trade schooling at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario, and was comfortable with the campus and the city. So, I applied to the nursing program and was accepted there.”
The Emergency Department can be very different from other departments, as they see patients that come in across the age spectrum, from premature babies to adults over 100 years old, who could have a myriad of symptoms and needs for care. Because of this, Emergency Department nurses need to have a high understanding of many areas, such as cardiac, neurology, trauma, mental health, and more. For Shaun, this is where he thrives.
“Once I started my education in nursing, I knew I wanted to work in the Emergency Department,” explains Shaun. “Maybe the many years I spent watching ER are to blame, but for some reason, I was drawn to the fast-paced, sometimes busy and often demanding environment. I haven’t looked back since!”
“Oak Valley Health has been an incredible place to learn and grow as a nurse over the years. I have learned so much from the physician specialists, allied health professionals and of course, my Emergency Department team including physicians, fellow nurses, respiratory therapists, support staff, and more,” says Shaun. “Despite the challenges the health care system is facing, it has been a really incredible, rewarding experience, being able to work to improve the health of the community.”
In addition to his role in the Emergency Department, Shaun is also a flu champion during this year’s flu vaccination campaign. As a flu champion, Shaun helps with the flu vaccination of our staff, professional staff, students, and volunteers.
“I wanted to become a flu champion to help a different population at Oak Valley Health,” says Shaun. “I sometimes care for our staff and volunteers when they come in as patients, but being a flu champion is an opportunity to care for them in a different way, when they are healthy, and as an emergency nurse it reinforces the benefits and importance of receiving a flu vaccine to protect myself, my colleagues and others.”
It’s no surprise that Shaun recommends getting vaccinated this flu season, but some other things you can do to protect yourself are to practice good hand hygiene – washing your hands often with soap and water – and to clean commonly used surfaces like door handles and countertops.
Outside of nursing, Shaun stays busy with his family. His daughter is involved in several extracurricular activities such as basketball and dance. Shaun and his family, enjoy supporting local farmer’s markets, finding new restaurants in the area, and attending hockey games as avid Toronto Maple Leafs and Peterborough Petes fans. Shaun also has a furry family member, a cat named Jazzy!
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