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A year of living beautifully in Bella Coola

Born and raised in the Royal City,  Megan Ross never imagined her nursing career would take her 500 km north as the crow flies to the remote Bella Coola Valley (pop. 1,919). But that is where the New Westminster native has been since February, and she’s been in awe of the jaw-dropping beauty of the area ever since she arrived.
“The mountains are huge – you’re literally surrounded by them,” says the 2011 nursing graduate. “And I think it’s pine mushroom harvesting time right now.”

Vibrant culture

Megan, keen to pursue a public health career but unable to get her foot in the door in the Lower Mainland, is filling a Public Health RN maternity leave vacancy that continues until February. Her time on the Central Coast has given her a deeper appreciation of her home province and what it has to offer. Stunning scenery notwithstanding, Bella Coola is also home to vibrant indigenous culture.
“One of the best parts of living here has been experiencing Nuxalk culture,” says Megan. “I attended a memorial potlatch where I got to see traditional dancing, drumming and singing as well as have delicious traditional food like salmon, herring eggs, ooligans and sluq (type of smoked salmon).”
As the only VCH-Coastal Public Health Nurse in the area, Megan works in tandem with the Nuxalk Health and Wellness Public Health RN of the First Nations Health Authority. The two public health programs work collaboratively to provide service to every resident in Bella Coola.

Becoming debt-free

Megan’s time on the Central Coast has led to educational opportunities she may not have otherwise had in the Lower Mainland and enabled her to become debt-free.
Thanks to rent-free accommodations (in a spacious two-bedroom apartment) and the student-loan repayment process, Megan will not only be debt free by the time her employment winds down in February, she will also have saved enough money for a down payment on a condo in Pemberton where she has secured a full-time job.

A rewarding experience

“My experience in Bella Coola has been invaluable – I would not have landed the job in Pemberton had I not gained so much experience here,” says Megan. “It’s been very rewarding.”
Megan’s commitment to her role has not gone unnoticed either.
“I could not have asked for a more engaged, dedicated employee,” says Michel Bazille, Director, Bella Coola General Hospital. “Megan completely embraced the public health program in the schools, baby clinics and flu clinics. Temporary vacancies are almost impossible to fill but she turned this into something that worked very well for our community and herself.”

No regrets

Life in such a remote area hasn’t been without its challenges, though. Missing family and friends has been the biggest issue for Megan. And dealing with the isolation (Netflix helps). Luckily, she’s welcomed a few visitors over the last few months, who’ve brought her new books to read. But she has no regrets. The opposite in fact. 
“I feel lucky to have had this opportunity.”

Want a new challenge?

If you are or know an RN looking for a new challenge and adventure in a beautiful community outside of the city, check out the new casual nursing opportunities (short and long term) in Bella Bella and Bella Coola on our VCH careers website and look up posting # 076004. Housing and travel (to/from Vancouver) are provided. RNs who have completed a recognized advanced nursing specialty program in emergency and/or critical care nursing plus certifications such as NTCC, ACLS, PALS and CTAS and/or with recent related experience are encouraged to apply.
SOURCE: A year of living beautifully in Bella Coola ( )
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