National Nursing Week Profile: Erin Wiltse

Mentorship made the difference for Wiltse to stay the course 


Becoming a nurse is not easy but it is rewarding!

For Erin Wiltse, working in the medical field is what influenced her to becoming a nurse. Erin initially worked as a 911 dispatcher and then as an emergency medical responder (ambulance driver).  While working in Alberta alongside a nurse paramedic, she was convinced by her colleague to consider a career in nursing.

Erin returned home to Kamloops, B.C. and joined Thompson Rivers University in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Erin shared how she began to struggle in her second year in the program. She was challenged by the medical model and felt that patients were on a “conveyor belt”, therefore she couldn’t properly connect with clients. During her mentorship with an Indigenous nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Erin’s intuition about the importance of connection and relationships in nursing was encouraged.  

“Having a mentor can make all the difference in the world,” says Erin. She credits her mentor with saving her career in nursing by guiding her on her learning journey. Coming full circle, Erin now works as the acting Professional Practice Leader with FNHA where she provides support, consultation and mentorship to the nurses in remote and First Nations communities.   

Erin enjoys experiencing the rich and unique cultures of each First Nation community noting that she is passionate about cultural diversity as this keeps her engaged with the work. When working with community, Erin approaches her work with humility and openness, by meeting the clients where they are at and accepting them for who they are. Erin truly enjoys the connections she makes with patients.

Her commitment to cultural safety and humility is to work with patients in the community by actively listening and not having an agenda. Erin allows the connections and relationships to continue to motivate her work.

Erin is Nlaka’pamux ancestry from the Cooks Ferry Indian Band. Chief David Walkem of the Cooks Ferry Indian Band shares, “On behalf of the Chief, Council and members of the Cook’s Ferry Band we wish to say how proud we are of Erin for her determination, service to the health of our people, and courage in the face of many challenges. She is a great role model for all young people.”
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