‘Enter to learn; go forth and do good.’ St. Paul’s School of Nursing motto stands the test of time for two nursing students

Nov 9, 2018 | News

Megan Euverman (L) and Alisa Popok (R) enjoying their clinical shifts in the St. Paul’s Perioperative Department (OR).Megan Euverman (L) and Alisa Popok (R) enjoying their clinical shifts in the St. Paul’s Perioperative Department (OR).

More than 100 years ago, the Sisters of Providence put out a call for young women to enter the inaugural class of St. Paul’s School of Nursing, created to meet the growing needs of a booming community. Back then, the chief requisite of student nurses was to follow doctor’s orders and keep patients comfortable and cheerful. Fourteen young women were accepted into that first class, and in 1931, St. Paul’s introduced its first post-basic nursing education program, a six-month operating room course.

A group of student nurses from St. Paul’s School of Nursing, who spent long hours ensuring the OR was kept spotless.

While the School closed in 1974, the hospital remains a place of learning, playing a central role in health care education in BC. Decades since St. Paul’s introduced that first OR course, Megan Euverman and Alisa Popok, two bright young women are walking in the footsteps of those nurses before them carrying out the School’s motto: “Enter to learn; go forth and do good.”

Enrolled in the specialty education for the operating room, Alisa was sold on a career in the OR after completing her first rotation there, while Megan got that “gut feeling” after a job shadow in the OR during her second semester. When asked how the OR differs from other nursing specialties, the two nurses emphasize the nature of the team with everyone working in unison versus being more independent. Alisa also values the predictability, “you know what your day will look like; you can prepare for the surgery in advance.”

Alisa Popok (L) and Megan Euverman (R) in the St. Paul’s OR.

If you’re someone who subscribes more to stability and thrives in a high-functioning team, you may also find your home in the OR. Other traits that make a good OR nurse are being naturally organized, having an ability to take constructive feedback and attention to detail. “The OR attracts people interested in team environments, technology, and anatomy and physiology. It also attracts nurses who are compassionate and understand the need to comfort and connect with patients in a short period of time,” said Rupinder Khotar, who oversees the program as OR Nursing Supervisor.

On the unique culture of St. Paul's OR, she says: “We hear it all the time from students, residents, visiting physicians and nurses who come to us from other sites. Our students have the benefit of a huge network of support – our staff team, Clinical Nurse Leaders, our Nurse Educators and all of the physicians. St. Paul’s has a long and strong history of perioperative nursing education.”

Dispelling the notion that the OR is an inhospitable place for students, especially if you were to believe what you see on medical TV shows, Megan confirms that the morale of the staff is incredible: “St. Paul’s Hospital has a very good reputation for having high morale; the surgeons are very approachable and easy to talk to – they are used to having students in the room.” Truth be told, you do need somewhat of a thick skin to find your footing in the OR, but once you do, you’ll find a highly-supportive team ready to take students under their wing. She says, “the team makes working there amazing – every step of the way.”

Providence Health Care’s Perioperative Program includes online learning, simulation strategy and clinical preceptorship with a strong emphasis on the clinical portion in various specialties within the OR training sites – training is fully funded including wages, tuition fees and textbooks. The program generally looks for registered nurses who have one to two years of acute care experience, but as Alisa and Megan have proven, new grads who have done preceptorships with us and who display a keen interest, are also accepted into the program.

More than 4,000 nurses were trained at the St. Paul’s School of Nursing over its 67 year tenure. Join in the rich legacy of the OR. The Perioperative Program is currently recruiting for its January 2019 intake -- to continue your nursing education in the operating room at St. Paul’s, click here.

St. Paul's physicians and nurses preparing for surgery in the OR (1910). 

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