Ivana Freitas, RPN, IEN from Serbia, Health and Wellness Manager, Chartwell Retirement Residences

The reason I wanted to become a nurse was because I like to help people. I was brought up by my grandmother in Serbia so I was a caregiver to her as well. When I decided to come to Canada and apply to be a nurse, I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but it happened to be a huge deal. It’s really two different worlds. When I came I was quite isolated. Then I joined CARE Centre and I passed the RPN exam in February, 2010. My first job in Canada was at Revera as a staff nurse, then I was hired at CARE Centre as a Case Manager. I was very personal with my clients at CARE Centre. It was never just a job. I shared my story with every client to motivate them to continue their struggle. In September, 2011 I came to Chartwell. We’re really lacking RPNs in the long-term care sector, they have so many critical clinical skills that we need. I was lucky to get this job. It’s hard for IENs to get a staff job, let alone in management. CARE Centre opened those doors for me. And now I can hire PSWs and RPNs who were nurses back home – if they’re not CARE Centre members I tell them to join!