College of Nursing student Tyler Lindsay sits in the sunny E-Wing atrium of the Health Sciences Building. (Photo: James Shewaga)

Swapping homework for hospitals

On second thought, Tyler Lindsay has chosen to make a difference in the emergency room, rather than in the classroom.

By James Shewaga

Six years after earning his education degree at the University of Saskatchewan, the 27-year-old Saskatoon student will walk across the stage again at TCU Place on June 7 to be awarded his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at U of S Spring Convocation. For Lindsay, it will mark the culmination of a six-year journey of self-discovery, from budding teacher to primary care paramedic to registered nurse, after graduating with a sparkling 85 per cent academic average.

“When I did my first degree, nursing was never even on my list, but the more that I got involved in health care and the more that I watched nurses work in emergency and critical care settings, it definitely drew me towards the profession,” said Lindsay, who hopes to write his national licensure exam shortly after convocation to complete the final step in becoming a registered nurse. “I didn’t really think I would ever graduate again, but here I am. So, I’m excited about it.”

Lindsay first started thinking about going from teacher to student again while interning at a school in the Saskatchewan town of Kamsack. As he managed the swimming pool there part-time, he connected with a local ambulance company and began working nights and weekends with them after taking an emergency medical responder course. The experience was life-changing for Lindsay, who quickly decided to make the switch from education to health care, upgrading his skills to work full-time as a paramedic.

“I just like to help during someone’s moment of crisis, to make them feel that there are people there that care for them and are working hard to make them better. That is kind of what drives me,” he said. “You definitely see a lot of trauma (as a paramedic), especially in tragic accidents. But I think some of the best situations that I have been a part of are those moments where you are able to help someone, to ease suffering, to make a positive impact on their health-care experience. You know that you have done something that has made a difference.”

Lindsay has spent the last five years serving as a paramedic in Saskatoon, the past two years working part-time while taking full-time nursing studies as he powered through six straight semesters without a break to complete the Post-Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

“Being able to complete the degree in two years was the reason why I chose this program,” said Lindsay, whose girlfriend Sarah is also graduating from nursing this spring. “I went right through, six semesters, no breaks, while working part-time as a primary care paramedic, so it was very busy. There are definitely some sacrifices that have to be made and it requires a lot of time management. But I’m glad that I choose this option.”

While nursing has one of the lowest male enrolment rates (22 per cent) on campus, Lindsay said he felt right at home from day one.

“I think male enrolment is increasing and I really enjoyed my time in the college,” said Lindsay. “It wasn’t a difficult decision at all to pursue it, but definitely, the welcoming atmosphere from the instructors and professors when they express how excited they are to see male students in the lecture hall, it’s reassuring that you made the right decision.”

Lindsay said the excellent hands-on training that nursing students receive at the U of S sets the program apart.

“I have really enjoyed our clinical experiences and I think that is a highlight of the program, having a diversity of placements and instructors from different backgrounds to share their expertise,” said Lindsay, who hopes to work in the emergency ward or the intensive care unit at one of Saskatoon’s hospitals. “I think it has really prepared me for my career and I am looking forward to getting started.”