Have you ever wondered whether God is calling you to become a nurse? Candice Balis graduated with a Diploma in Early Childhood Education in 2004, and then returned to Columbia Bible College to complete her BA in Intercultural Studies in 2007. Today, she works as a Registered Nurse at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary.
Tell us a bit about your current role. What do you do in a typical work day?
In a typical shift, I communicate and collaborate with the rest of the health care team, I assess and monitor my patients, I provide medications and comfort measures, I advocate for my patients and their families, and provide support in as many ways that I can. As an RN, I am a teacher, a learner, a nurturer, a comedian, a caregiver, an advocate, a decision-maker, a shoulder to cry on, and occasionally a punching bag…and I love every second of it.
I never know exactly how my day is going to go, but I know that I will leave the hospital changed for the better with every shift I complete.
What additional education or training did you pursue after Columbia?
When I made the decision to pursue nursing, I wasn’t sure if it would actually happen. I had to complete a Statistics course, an Anatomy course and a Microbiology course before I could even apply to the program I wanted. It was a definite leap of faith to leave my job, to give up my apartment, give away the majority of my stuff, and move to Alberta. I was able to complete the remaining prerequisite credits and was then accepted to the Bachelor of Nursing After Degree Program at the University of Lethbridge. They accepted my BA from Columbia along with the three additional courses I took at Lethbridge College. It was three years of study, on top of my time at Columbia, but it was so worth it.
How did you discover that you wanted to be a nurse?
I’ve always loved the idea of working in some sort of “helping” capacity. I wanted to work in a place where I could interact with people, especially children, and make them feel valued and loved. I have been incredibly fortunate to have had that opportunity in basically every job I’ve held, but never to the extent that nursing provides. Throughout my life, I have often ended up in a place where I was caring for people who were sick, injured, or just needed support in some way. (This happened a lot at Columbia between dorm life and mission trips!) In 2011, I started considering nursing as a very serious option for my future, and after numerous friends, family and strangers encouraged me towards it, I finally submitted to God and said yes.
How can someone tell if nursing is the right role for them?
I think there are a variety of personality types that are a good fit for nursing, but whatever area of nursing you are interested in, you have to really want it. Nursing school is tough and incredibly stressful. I think that whatever area of nursing you may get into, you have to have a deep desire to care for people. When you care for people, you can deal with the illnesses, the injuries, the germs, the frustrations, the politics, and the long, long days. You need to remember that it is a person you are taking care of, not just a patient.
What are some ways your time at Columbia has equipped you for what you’re doing now?
I have only been working as a nurse since September of 2016, but in that short period of time I can confidently say that my experiences at Columbia help me every single day that I work. I am a Pediatric Nurse, so my background in ECE has helped me immensely. I work in a culturally diverse setting that aims to provide family-centered care, so my background in ICS is very relevant to what I am doing. My education and my experiences from Columbia have equipped me to think critically, be creative, care deeply, deal with conflict, be flexible, ask questions, learn constantly, and be a part of a team. I considered my time at Columbia, and the jobs I obtained afterwards, as my “gathering phase.” I was gathering the education, experiences, and resources I needed to pursue God’s next calling on my life.
How does your job connect with your sense of calling/purpose?
I think my job lines up perfectly with my sense of calling and purpose. When I read scripture, it motivates and challenges me to love people and to care for them. I do that every day in my job. It isn’t easy. My job has very, very hard days. That’s part of why I know God called me to this. There is no way that I could do this job without Him. I am simply not strong enough. Sitting with a family while a doctor tells them that their child has cancer isn’t easy. Watching a mom curl up in a crib beside her child as they are wheeled down the ICU is heartbreaking. God has given me an opportunity to care for each of my patients and their families. He has equipped me to stand beside them in times of weakness and strength. He has called me to this chaotic, messy, challenging, amazing, and life-changing profession and I am ever so grateful.
What’s the best part of your job? What are your biggest challenges?
The best part of my job is the children. They are true warriors and they teach me so much! They are strong, resilient, and courageous. They inspire me. Their families inspire me. My co-workers inspire me. Every shift I am blessed to see children overcoming incredible obstacles and not letting illness or injury stand in their way. I regularly cry on my way home, but more often than not, it is because of happy endings, not sad ones.
The biggest challenge is feeling like I am just not enough. I struggle with that. I have to give that to God every day. My mother-in-law gave me a beautiful necklace with my name and designation inscribed on one side, and a nurse’s prayer on the other. I pray that prayer every day on my way to work and have to let go of my fears and inadequacies and trust that He is in control. He called me to this, and He has equipped me for this. When I step out of my own way and let God go ahead, I know I am being led in the best way possible.
What advice do you have for our students?
My advice is to go after what you love. Try new things and don’t assume that what you are doing now, won’t be relevant to what you will do later. Make the most of the opportunities you get, and find something you truly love to do. We spend the majority of our adult life at work, so find a job that fulfils you and lines up with God’s call on your life. Also, be kind to your nurses, it isn’t an easy job!