License Practical Nurses (LPN) are on the front-line of Alberta’s health care system. They harness their knowledge and skills to provide acute, palliative, and primary care in nearly all clinical settings. Despite their dedication, LPNs have struggled because of increased workloads and the pandemic, especially in rural communities.
Marrianne Van Elst has worked in healthcare for the last 18 years—in emergency rooms, long term care, and home care. Today, she is the Health Care Aide (HCA) Supervisor at Morinville Homecare.
“I feel we are lucky as LPNs because we can make someone’s life better every day we come to work,” says Van Elst. Her passion for nursing began at an early age, when she was inspired by a childhood friend’s mother who worked as a nurse. Van Elst finally decided to pursue her dream career after her cousin also went into nursing.
“I enrolled in the practical nursing program at the age of 30 and never looked back,” she says.
Van Elst says the hardest part of the job is the public misconception that LPNs are not ‘real’ nurses, but she doesn’t let it get to her. She wants Albertans to know that LPNs are real nurses and have always been working alongside health care aides, registered nurses, doctors, and specialists to achieve the best care possible.
“Nursing is a constant learning curve,” says Van Elst. “If you think the work is over once you get your license, you are likely in the wrong career. You could say the same for union activism, too.”
At the end of her workday, Marianne comes home to her pet Corgi, Rees, where she enjoys sewing, crochet, and painting.