Rebecca Brown is a registered nurse who works in an infusion clinic as part of the internal medicine team at Foothills Medical in Calgary, Alberta. A nurse of 30 years, she has worked at the small clinic for half of her career.

Rebecca is part of a team of experienced senior nurses who give and monitor infusions in a unit without doctors at hand. These nurses are “the eyes and ears” of family practitioners, some of whom may be on the other side of the city. She says the clinic rarely has enough staff, impacting patient care and the morale of nurses on the unit.

“We hardly have a shift now where we have enough staff,” she says. “We have been having trouble recruiting staff, and we’ve been having trouble getting casuals to work. We are feeling burnt out… every time we go into a shift, it’s just dread."

Short-staffing has a high impact on the small clinic. For patients, short-staffing means canceled and rebooked appointments. For nurses, it means working long hours without enough support and being unable to book vacation time.

“Nurses, I know, are leaving because they’ve just had enough of fighting,” Rebecca says. “It’s not just about money. It’s also about respect. It’s about working conditions."

Throughout her career, Rebecca has always loved being a nurse, but she says the last two years have been so difficult that she’s reducing her hours at work and is even considering retiring earlier than planned.

“Only in the last two years, I’ve literally woken up in the morning and sometimes thought, ‘I just don’t want to go to work today,’” she says. “I’ve never felt that my entire nursing career.”