Doris Gardiner

Doris Gardner

What education have you taken?

I was educated in Switzerland where I grew up. I then moved to Canada and married a farmer. During the years I farmed with my husband, I obtained a BSc degree with a major in zoology and miner in botany. My life changed in 2004 when I moved into Brandon to live on my own. I continued to further my education. I took several courses at ACC to help me advance while I worked for Convergys. Then in 2006 I entered the 4-year psychiatric nursing degree at Brandon University and started work as a mental health proctor. I am now just weeks away from completing this degree and will be graduating in May 2010.

What accomplishments are you proud of?

I have to think back. I received a German book award from BU. I am always doing some volunteer work somewhere. Just in the last six years that I have lived in Brandon, I volunteered first at Street Love ministry. During my 1½ years of work at Convergys, I received several times recognition for perfect attendance and some other recognitions. I volunteered at the Brandon Regional Health Center BRHC as patient visitor on floor A3, and I assisted at occupational therapy at the Center for Adult Psychiatry CAP. I have done follow-up phone calls to bereaved people who recently lost a loved one (also through BRHA). I have gone door to door to collect money for diabetes. I was a student leader at the pilot project Career Trek (based out of Winnipeg, a not-for-profit organization that provides kids from ages 10-12 hands-on experience at universities and colleges to bring out their potential). I also just recently was a student collaborator for the
Mental Health Commission of Canada,
and I hold the current chair position in Brandon University Health Studies Student Association (BUHSSA).

Tell me about yourself.

Born and raised in Switzerland, I moved to Canada and marring my now ex-husband farmer. I love to be with people and have a heart for all animals. During my time on the farm, I slowly turned a strict grain farm into a mixed farm. I drove all the machinery like the guys, and helped at fixing and maintaining the equipment. I had a rather large assortment of pets and enjoyed working in my garden. I love painting, horseback riding (especially, I had three horses), diverse culture, traveling, walking, training dogs, and being with friends. Oh, I really love to laugh and even more love to make people laugh.

How did you become interested in your field of study?

After I split from my husband and was divorced, a year later my life drastically changed. I had to leave all my animals behind except the horses (I had to sell one), which are now looked after by a friend. I fell into a depression and had no hope for a future left. I had my science degree, but could not make use of it. On top of that, working for Convergys caused my anxiety, depression, and fear of the unknown to grow in leaps and bounds. I remember asking myself, what am I good for? There should be some work or occupation that I have a God-given talent for and that comes easy for me, something that doesn’t always scare the living daylight out of me (like certain jobs that I have worked at). A certain person who is a psychiatric nurse and holds a leadership position first introduced me to the idea of psychiatric nursing. I entered the nursing program in the fall of 2006, and I haven’t looked back since.

What is your philosophy in life?

Keep on swimming, take one day at a time, and try to stay in the present moment (that is a hard one). Do not dwell on the past, and do not worry about the future. Take a deep breath (breathe in a paper bag – that’ll slow you down). Laugh, laugh, and laugh some more.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I can see myself working as a frontline psychiatric nurse in an acute setting or perhaps in the ER somewhere. I would like to go on to obtain a master’s degree. I also would love to be able to take part in a “first responder team” with my own search and rescue dog.

Nominator’s Commendation

“Doris Gardiner is in her final year of her Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing program. She came to Canada from her native Switzerland in 1985 and married a Canadian farmer. When her marriage ended in 2005, Doris created opportunity from challenges and entered the Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing program. She has brought her enthusiasm, appreciation for life and the struggles of others, and her lived experience and appreciation of different cultures to her classroom interactions. Throughout her time at Brandon University, Doris has balanced her commitments as a student with her paid role of Proctor with the Brandon Regional Health Authority.

In the fall of 2009, Doris took over as President of the Brandon University Health Studies Students Association. She has provided collaborative leadership for the Student Association as they have worked to meet the needs of students in Health Studies and welcome the students in the First Nations and Aboriginal Counselling program into the Association. Doris is a role model for younger women in the programs, demonstrating her willingness to struggle with the demands of a professional program of study, the challenges of working, studying and writing in a second language, asserting her independence without the support of family who remain in Switzerland, and maintaining her focus on her dream of becoming a Psychiatric Nurse.”