Graduated Nurse Practitioner Louise Ewen Peterson joined the Slave Lake Family Care Clinic team in September.
“I love the size (of Slave Lake), I feel like I’m actually making a difference,” Peterson says. “I feel like I’m going home. Slave Lake is very similar to Fort McMurray: tight knit and integrated.”
Peterson and her three kids moved to Slave Lake sight unseen on September 1. Her children are 11, four and three. Her husband will join them in December. He works overseas.
“I love outdoor sports: trail running, rugby, roller derby, baseball, canoeing, so I push my kids into it too,” Peterson says.
Peterson’s felt an overwhelming amount of support since coming here. Having lived in Fort McMurray for years, Slave Lake doesn’t strike Peterson as north or remote, being less than three hours from Edmonton.
Peterson has been a Registered Nurse for 15 years. She finished her Nurse Practitioner degree at Athabasca University in June of this year. She took her provincial test on October 16 and is waiting for the results. As a Graduated Nurse Practitioner, she can do basically everything. The provincial test results just change her title, to Nurse Practitioner.
“The transition is nerve wracking, but very exciting,” Peterson says of the change from RN to NP. “I absolutely love the job here. I look forward to coming to work every day.”
Peterson grew up in the area around Humboldt, Saskatchewan. Half of her childhood was on a farm and the other half in a small town.
Peterson served in the Canadian Armed Forces in the Army artillery, for three years.
At the same time, she did an intensive two-year full-time Registered Nurse degree through Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
This course was 24 months straight of theory and practicum. Instead of four-month semesters with the summers off, each semester was six to eight weeks, with a variety of classes and practical work experience.
Peterson had a technical reason for becoming a nurse.
“Understanding what was happening with my body when I take medicine,” she says. “I love understanding the how and the why of medicine.”
Peterson’s three main focuses in medicine are women’s health, endocrinology (hormones), and immunology (white blood cells and the other parts of the immune system).
For the last six years, Peterson studied to be a Practical Nurse, while working full-time, and giving birth to two children. This also included a one-year-evacuation from Fort McMurray because of the 2016 wildfire.
“I’ve wanted this (to be an NP) for a long time,” she says. “because I wanted to bridge the gap between medical lingo and what people understand. I wanted to improve access. Ideally, my vision was to help people improve their health, so they avoid conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.”
For the last two years, Peterson taught at Keyano College, in Fort McMurray. She taught in the Health Care Aide, Licensed Practical Nurse, and Registered Nurse programs.
Peterson started her nursing career in Halifax in Neonatal ICU and worked in the same department in Victoria, BC.
For the last 13 years, Peterson lived and worked in Fort McMurray. She moved there to be close to her parents and to take a job as a public health nurse. While there, she worked in occupational health, emergency, and as the nurse on an emergency helicopter crew.
Peterson moved to Slave Lake because of the Family Care Clinic model.
“I have a strong belief in what the Family Care Clinic stands for,” she says. This includes the access to multiple types of medical knowledge in one place.
In her four weeks in Slave Lake, she’s found the doctors and other nurse practitioners very helpful.
Peterson is accepting patients. People interested in becoming her patient can contact the FCC at 780-849-4155.