Yvette Francis is a part-time Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) in the palliative care unit at Baycrest Hospital. A model student in the early days of her career, she was fiercely determined to make nursing her life.
“When the opportunity came to get into nursing, that became my only priority. I went to school, came home, did my homework, woke up at 4am, and was out the door by 5-6am every day. I wanted to pass my course so badly, and it was an absolute joy when I did because I could finally do the one thing I’ve always wanted to do.”
Patient care is extremely important to Yvette beyond just treatment, and she talks about how her experiences have motivated her to become the best person possible for her patients:
“To be a nurse is to be kind, caring, giving, helping, and most of all, human. All these traits are essential for the job, whether you’re helping somebody regain their health, giving them respect during their dying hours, or telling them that it isn’t over. I used to think that it’s over, but I’ve seen so many miracles on my floor, to the point where my views changed.”
“I also like to ask the patients everything about them; who took care of them, who paid attention to them, and who’s at home with them. This is the most attention that they get, so they depend on you. If they find somebody is taking care of them, they aren’t as anxious and don’t feel so vulnerable.”
Vulnerability isn’t something Yvette feels when it comes to her union, SEIU Healthcare. She’s inspired by its staff and members to strengthen her own voice and become more politically active.
“I love SEIU Healthcare and have been a part of it for a long time. Back in 1981-2, when the union was in the Victoria Park – Eglington Area, I wanted to know what was going on as I didn’t have enough knowledge in the labour movement. The people we got are amazing; they have a vision and a strong presence. I’m learning a few things from them, to express what I need to and get my point across. SEIU Healthcare is about opening up and being approachable, and we’ve got wonderful people for the job.”