Janet Colter

Practical Nurse

Janet Colter is 56 years old and a recent graduate of the NorQuest Practical Nurse program. She lives in St. Albert, works in Edmonton , and is happily married with one very busy 17 year old daughter.

She probably didn’t fit the typical NorQuest student profile. Janet was born in Nyack, New York. Her family moved to Alberta when her father accepted a position at the U of A as Chair of the Department of Biochemistry. She completed all of her schooling in Edmonton, with the exception of the 10 thgrade. During that year she attended an international school in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Following high school, she went directly to the U of A where she earned her Arts degree with a focus on languages. After a two year break she returned to the U of A where she completed her MBA. Janet spent the majority of her career in the field of information technology. Throughout, she continued to seek learning opportunities to either build her knowledge and skills, or simply to satisfy her own curiosity.

Yet even as Janet was enjoying progression and success in her career, she felt increasingly unfulfilled and often toyed with the idea of changing professions. In September 1992, she took a basic Physiology course and loved it. This was the trigger that set her on a journey of change.

Shortly thereafter, she began to explore in earnest how she might transition to a career in health care. Janet checked into the availability of an After Degree in Nursing, but was told it would be another few years before such a program would be operational. As it happened, there was a posting for Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Nursing at this same time. Thinking this was a step in the right direction she applied and was offered the position. She enjoyed working in the Faculty for many years and, in fact, played a small part in bringing the After Degree program to fruition.

In the meantime, Janet began to investigate other avenues she could take to reach her end goal. One of these, and ultimately the one she chose, was the Practical Nurse program offered through NorQuest College. She knew that the scope of practice for Licensed Practical Nurses was expanding, and that the demand for LPN’s was growing exponentially. She had a strong desire to focus on acquiring clinical skills, as she already had considerable administrative and management experience. The chance to learn in simulated lab environments and on the job clinical placements was what she wanted.

So in January 2010, at 54 years of age, Janet entered the PN program on a fulltime basis. There were many times she questioned this decision. She wondered if she still had the focus and drive to succeed, whether she would fit in with her much younger classmates, and whether her ego could withstand starting back at square one. Today she is a proud graduate of this program, proof positive she was able to overcome her fears and allow her heart to guide her actions.

Janet is appreciative of the support of her family, as well as all of the staff and instructors at the college. The support began before she had even gained admission. The staff member who worked with her on her application to a federal funding initiative was invaluable. She had many different instructors over the twenty months, who were all supportive, encouraging, and willing to give of themselves to ensure student success. She describes them as professional, yet approachable, serious, yet fun loving, strict, yet caring.

According to Janet, “NorQuest also provided me the opportunity to enhance my level of cultural awareness and appreciation, a gift that will serve me well in my new profession. Many of my classmates generously shared their personal stories when invited to do so, and it enriched the course material”.

Janet chose to participate in many volunteer opportunities while at the college. She feels a very strong connection to NorQuest, in part because of her position as a student representative on the President’s Advisory Council. The college was undergoing a significant transformation, and she appreciated the interest senior administration had in ensuring all voices were heard. In return, she developed a sincere appreciation for the important role NorQuest plays within Campus Alberta.

Within weeks of completing her final clinical practicum Janet joined Covenant Health at the Edmonton General Palliative Hospice. She is frequently asked by patients and families how she is able to do the work she does. Although she freely admits on some days it can be both physically and emotionally draining, there is no doubt in her mind that she receives far more than she will ever be able to give. Janet receives inspiration from the courage, grace and pure joie de vivre of her patients as they “live” their final days. She receives hope from the strength and love of families as they support their loved ones and each other during a time of grief and uncertainty. Every day she is granted an opportunity to make a real difference to another human being, and is reminded of what is truly important in her own life.

NorQuest acknowledges Janet’s many accomplishments and is extremely pleased and proud she is an alumnus of our college!

NorQuest also provided me the opportunity to enhance my level of cultural awareness and appreciation, a gift that will serve me well in my new profession.