When it came time to figure out what to do for postsecondary education, Sue Bremner wanted to study to become a physician or a physician assistant but understood that money was going to be tight.
“My mom was a single parent, so I knew there were financial limitations,” said Sue, Manager, Emergency Department, Operating Room and MDRD, Arnprior Regional Health (ARH). “My mom actually suggested that I join the military and I laughed at her. She said: ‘No, seriously, they will pay for you to go to university, you just need to give some time back.’”
Sue was recruited by the Canadian Armed Forces in Kamloops, British Columbia and after their assessment, they offered her a nursing role.
“They believed it was a good fit with my skillset and knowledge base and agreed to pay for my university if I worked for five years in the Canadian Forces following graduation.”
Sue studied nursing at the University of British Columbia and served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 17 years.
“I actually loved every single minute of it. I travelled across the county and the world, and I was able to do a lot of interesting things that if I had not opened my horizons beyond what I thought I wanted to do, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”
A move into management
After retirement from the military in 2006, Sue joined The Ottawa Hospital in neurosciences where she worked as a step-down ICU nurse and ED nurse and eventually made the transition to management.
As a manager, Sue focuses on bringing as much transparency to the role as she can and always stays mindful about what it is like to work on the frontline.
“I remember very early on in my management days working with some of the staff and a friend said to me: ‘you don’t remember what it’s like,’” reflected Sue. “That stuck with me to always remember what it’s like to be at the bedside, to be on the frontline, to maybe not have all of the information and to be doing a job on a really intense basis.”
For Sue’s team, she makes sure her door is open when she’s not in a meeting, that she’s available by text and phone, and that her team knows they can come to her to work through an issue or situation.
“The most important thing is that we’re a team. Just because I am not wearing scrubs, doesn’t mean I can’t understand what they’re going through on a day-to-day basis.”
Relocating from Alberta during a pandemic
A few years ago, Sue was recruited from the Ottawa area to go out to Dayton Valley, Alberta to manage an inpatient unit and emergency department at the community hospital.
“In 2020, My husband and I decided that with COVID we really wanted to get back to Ontario so we could be closer to family.”
Sue and her husband had owned a restaurant in Renfrew and lived in Hayley Station so they were familiar with the area and she homed in on job opportunities in Renfrew County.
“I saw the ARH job posting and immediately jumped on it,” said Sue.
She’s thankful she did.
“It’s been excellent. I really like the small-town feel and that you get to know everyone on a first-name basis,” explained Sue. “We may not be able to see each other’s full faces with the masks, but we can look into each other’s eyes and know that we’re here for a purpose and that we’re serving our community.”
For Sue, the Emergency Department portion of her new role has been a straightforward transition given her background and taking on the Operating Room and MDRD management has been a new and exciting challenge.
“I’ve been really luck to have an excellent team in the OR and MDRD who have assisted me with understanding the nuances of surgery.”
Since Sue joined the ARH Team in October 2020, two proud moments stand out for her: the surgical services expansion and the high satisfaction scores in the Emergency Department.
“The surgical expansion is a big accomplishment for our team – we are able to care for more people so they can get the procedure they need and be discharged home without a long wait time.”
In the ED, Sue and the team have been exceeding the ED patient satisfaction goal thanks to a focus on good care, communication, and compassion.
“Our staff has been delivering really good communication right from the ED door,” said Sue. “Our team is focused on keeping front of mind how it would feel if it was their mother or child needing to visit the Emergency and what kind of care they would want them to have. Many of us can relate to what it’s like being on the other side and we’re focused on bringing that into our practice.”
Sue is happy she made the leap to come back to Ontario to be closer to family and join the ARH Team.
“I certainly haven’t regretted my choice and I’m really, really happy here.”