Life lessons

Changes to the requisites for nurses working in Continuing Care – the area of nursing nearest and dearest to her heart – is what prompted Milner to further her education. But much to her surprise, Milner found that earning a degree at U of L gave her something exceedingly more profound than increased job security – it gave her an entirely new outlook on life.

It's an amazing testament to a degree program that Milner wasn't at first convinced she even wanted to complete. She admits to struggling through the first semester, not because the course load was incredibly intense but because the course of study proved to be a self-reflective, emotional journey – something Milner didn't anticipate, and had certainly never experienced before.

Ruth Milner reflects on what she calls the perfect practicum experience.

"Nursing used to be a very task-oriented profession, but it's become much more communication based," Milner says. "Communication is a key component of the U of L program, and I found that to be a huge challenge. I had some really negative experiences over the course of my career. I was carrying a grudge that affected the way I approached the profession, other nurses – my entire life, actually. I needed to make some real changes, and the program and my instructors showed me how."

The emotional breakthroughs Milner experienced through her studies culminated in what she refers to as the "perfect practicum" – placement in a homecare program on the Blood Nation Reserve.

"Everything really came together for me," Milner says. "The practicum was the embodiment of all the ideals we were being taught – community, inter-culturalism, communication. I was encouraged to try things, and to utilize all my skills. My confidence in my own abilities grew and grew. It was a wonderful, transformative experience."

Upon graduation in October 2009, Milner accepted a fulltime position with the Blood Reserve homecare program. While she continues to employ the fundamental principles she learned at the U of L professionally, Milner finds the new skill set equally beneficial in daily life.

"The nursing program taught me to look deeper into myself, to really understand what I want and need, and to have the courage to go after it."