Despite being the daughter of a nurse, Polina Lane’s journey to becoming a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) herself was fueled by a negative personal experience in the health system. She arrived in Canada from the former Soviet Union at a young age. At the time, her mother, a nurse in her home country, couldn’t practice in Canada due to the costly education required to update her credentials. Instead, she dedicated herself to raising Polina and her sibling.
Polina’s unexpected path to nursing began after having a negative healthcare experience following an ankle sprain while she lived in Manitoba. At that time, she was a 23-year-old denturist, and her husband, a military service member, was about to be posted to Ontario. This experience motivated Polina to become an outspoken champion for patient care. Upon relocating to Ontario, she enrolled in the nursing program at Algonquin College with a clear goal in mind: preventing others from enduring similar mistreatment by advocating for patients. She stated firmly, “Nurses are in a position of power and they need to use that power to advocate for their patients and take care of them, not mock or harass them.”
After graduating as an RPN in 2013, Polina began her career working for St. John’s Rehab Program at Sunnybrook Hospital, specializing in stroke, oncology and neurology. While she cherished this role, her desire for a more diverse experience led her to explore various different areas of practice. She expressed her enthusiasm for versatility, explaining, “I like to work everywhere.” Polina sought opportunities in burns, trauma, amputees, cardiac care and organ transplants, finding fulfilment in witnessing patients’ recoveries.
Having a spouse in the military has provided Polina with unique experiences that contribute to her versatility as a healthcare professional. Her husband’s unpredictable schedule often requires sudden relocations, disrupting her career and personal life. Despite these challenges, the transitions have presented her with valuable opportunities. Polina worked on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, participated in policy development and contributed to COVID-19 campaigns with Public Health. Her roles also included nursing supervision and director of wellness.
Presently, Polina juggles three jobs while pursuing her BScN online. She works part-time at both Deep River Hospital in Renfrew County and Pembroke Regional Hospital, specializing in emergency, rehab and general medicine. This fall, she will begin a new role as a clinical instructor at Algonquin College. Balancing these responsibilities alongside her role as a mother to a six-year-old child and a cat, as well as her duties as a WeRPN ambassador, is no small feat. Polina’s passion for mentoring and supporting new nursing graduates drives her to provide a positive learning environment.
“I’ve always been one to mentor new grads and new nurses,” she exclaims. “I always enjoy working with practical nursing students and helping them learn in an environment that doesn’t stress them out while supporting and providing them with a positive outlook on learning. Hopefully, I’ll get to mould the next generation [of nurses].”
Polina’s commitment to personal growth is remarkable. She actively seeks opportunities to enhance her skills, exemplified by her completion of a diabetes educator certificate from the Michener Institute, supported by WeRPN’s Nursing Education Initiative funding. She emphasizes the importance of taking concrete steps to better oneself, stating, “You can’t say you’re bettering yourself unless you’re actually doing something about it.” Her advocacy extends beyond her colleagues to patients and residents who deserve the best care possible.
Acknowledging the pressures within the nursing profession, Polina encourages her peers to admit when they are unsure about something and ask for help. Her advocacy skills extend to her daughter, who is hearing-impaired, requiring Polina to be a vocal advocate on her behalf.
As for Polina’s mother, she eventually returned to nursing and now works with Home and Community Care Support Services. Polina’s own path may encompass various directions in the future. Her passion for advocacy, combined with her outspoken nature, may lead her towards a political role. She concludes, “My passion really is to advocate. Would I like to take it political? Yes, I would. I have a big mouth. And I’m loud. But we’ll see what the future holds.”
Polina Lane’s remarkable journey to becoming a dedicated and versatile RPN in Ontario reflects her unwavering commitment to patient advocacy and her continuous pursuit of personal and professional growth. Her dedication to mentoring and supporting her colleagues, along with her potential future in advocacy and politics, signifies a bright and impactful future for this passionate healthcare professional.