Over the course of her 24-year nursing career, Sushila (Sue) Saunders has seen a lot of this country. With her husband, she’s lived in Vancouver, Toronto, London, Grand Forks, Prince George and now Kamloops.
So it came as a welcome surprise when she learned her newest job, as the BC Renal Agency’s Strategy Lead, Home Therapies and Palliative Care, wouldn’t require another move to the Lower Mainland.
“The agency operates as a virtual organization,” explains Sue. “So although I’ll have to travel for meetings from time to time, there’s no need for us to move.”
For Sue, this is a very good thing. Her husband works as a library administrator in Kamloops and her two teenage children are happy there. What’s more, she “really loves” the hot, dry summers of the Thompson Nicola region.
Sue first decided she wanted to be a nurse at the age of 15. Although she comes from a family of teachers she felt a desire to help others, so following high school she went to UBC to become a nurse.
After a couple of years of nursing at UBC hospital, Sue moved to Toronto and worked in trauma and orthopaedic surgery at St. Michael’s Hospital. However, it wasn’t long before she felt the need for a change. She was drawn to renal nursing by its complexity and the interesting challenges it offered. She received her certification in nephrology nursing in 1997 and eventually moved back to BC. Furthering her education, in 2010 she completed a Masters degree in nursing at the University of Northern BC in Prince George. (“I love learning,” says Sue.)
Although she has spent time as a renal nurse at various clinics, in recent years Sue has gravitated toward more project leadership responsibilities. In Prince George, she led the CKD clinic redesign, and was project manager for the development of a renal strategy for Northern Health. On moving to Kamloops in 2012, she became coordinator of Interior Health’s Kidney Care redesign project.
Sue says she’s excited by the opportunities she sees in her new Renal Agency role to work with people around the province on improving care. She also thinks it may be helpful that she is not based in Vancouver.
“I know what it’s like to be far from where the decisions are made, and I think people will appreciate that I bring a voice to the table at the agency that understands the issues faced by people from regions outside the Lower Mainland.”
She also looks forward to helping the various committees she’ll be working with in her new role. “So many people have helped me and mentored me over the years,” says Sue. “I’m looking forward to giving some of that back.”