Above photo: Jenna Gagnon, a VCH combined lab & X-ray technologist, in Bella Coola.
As a new graduate, Jenna moved to Bella Coola at 22 years old, apprehensive and excited at the same time. Most people aspire to move to a big city for change and life experience; however, the small town of Bella Coola beckoned.
“Bella Coola has had a tremendously positive impact on my life, and my experiences there have contributed to my personal growth. This is something I will always be grateful for."
In May 2016, Jenna graduated from school with a diploma in Combined Laboratory and X-ray Technology. “I was not interested in veering too far from my hometown of Lloydminster, Alberta/Saskatchewan. I worked casual jobs at hospitals and clinics close to home. A classmate of mine accepted a temporary position in Bella Coola and mentioned to me that there was another position open. She spoke highly of the staff and the community and was quite adamant that I would like it there as much as she did. I showed some interest, but knew that this was a big decision. The only time I had only ever lived away from home was with my siblings, and only two hours away from where we were raised. Nevertheless, after a couple email exchanges and phone interviews I was offered the job. To my own surprise I accepted the offer, left home and headed for the unknown."
Soon after arriving, she was ready to put all her practical skills and knowledge to the test. “Quickly I learned that this was no longer just school, the situations were real, and the patients were members of the very community I had just moved 2000 km to be apart of. There were a lot of moments in the first couple of months when I would come in and feel beyond my depth. The support and comfort I had from my colleagues during those times is what got me through and made me the successful technologist I am now."
“Working with doctors can at times feel intimidating; however, the physicians I have been lucky enough to work with in Bella Coola have shown me that you are never too important to be nice, and that every profession in health care is valued and important. It was a valuable reminder that that we work as a team. In addition to the amazing doctors, I don't have enough words to express my gratitude towards to entire staff at the Bella Coola General Hospital, from all the nurses, management, support staff and patients. You can always count on a smile in the hallway and a how is your day going."
She described Bella Coola as such a welcoming place. “I have never felt so accepted and included in a place, which I so obviously didn't fit in. I was moving from the Saskatchewan prairies to coastal British Columbia. I shared little-to-no common interests with people who today I am proud to call some of my best friends. “
“I was lucky enough to make friends with many of the locals who so freely welcomed me into their circle. I also joined the fire department where I met more great friends who made it easy to let go of the familiar and embrace the new."
"My time in Bella Coola has come to an end, as I have plans to travel and further my education in health care. It is my intent and hope that one day I will be back. I am leaving here a better health care professional and a better person. I am proud to have been apart of such an incredible community and team. I will always remember this chapter in my life as a time of growth and experience; these were truly some of the best years of my life. Thank you the Bella Coola General Hospital for this opportunity I will always cherish."
Jenna leaves us with an inspirational quote (source unknown) that nicely sums up her journey to Bella Coola. “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place."
To learn more and apply to opportunities in Bella Coola and the Central Coast, please
visit our website.