Healthy Living in the North

I came for… I stayed because… with Ibolya Agoston

Ibolya is in the front of a canoe on a clam lake, surrounded by mountains.

Ibolya enjoying time off at the Bowron Lakes in the Cariboo.

I recently noticed a common theme in my conversations with many Northern Health staff members. They were planning on coming to the North for a short time, but they’ve stayed for a lot longer. Meet one such person: Ibolya Agoston, team leader, Mental Health and Addictions Specialized Services. Based in Fort St. John, Ibolya is from Romania and came to Northern Health in 2003.

I came for…

I came to Canada for an adventure, where I could forge my own career path. I was living in England at the time, and wanted to experience the adventure of living in a Northern, rural community.

I was told about Health Match BC as a resource to learn more about nursing in BC. Their staff guided me to available positions in Northern Health. Well before Google maps, I had no idea where Fort St. John was located. To help me decide where I wanted to live, I went to the local library, and looked through photo books imagining what life would be like in the North. Then, I called the Fort St. John Health Unit and the receptionist who answered the phone sold me on the community. If it wasn’t for her sales pitch, I might have gone to a different community.

Iboyla takes a selfie. Behind her is a small valley and lake.

Iboyla participating in the Emperor’s challenge in Tumbler Ridge.

I stayed because…

The people. Leadership in the Northeast encourages the growth and development. They invest in their staff and encourage you to achieve your career goals. I work with amazing staff, and I enjoy impacting their career development. I’m able to coach them and encourage their own career growth.

I love the lifestyle I have in Fort St. John. We are close to nature and it’s a relaxed atmosphere. People who come here tend to have a similar mindset. Outside of work, I can canoe, hike, or cross-country ski.

Our patients are my immediate community. We’re serving people that I’m sometimes acquainted with, and interactions carry more weight because you have a different impact than in a larger community. People can be intimidated by the North, but once you embrace it, you love it!

Tamara Reichert

About Tamara Reichert

Tamara is the communications advisor for the innovation and development commons at Northern Health where she works on a number of projects with the research, quality improvement, clinical simulation, and education teams. Born and raised in Prince George, Tamara grew up on a ranch where she rode horses, played with farm animals, built forts, and raided the family garden. She enjoys spending time travelling, hiking, cooking, reading, and cheering for her favourite sports teams.


Rural Nursing: A Love Story

chetwynd nursing team outside in fall weather

Teammates and friends! LPN Darlene, RN Bradt, RN Stephanie, MRT Megan.

“Why Chetwynd?”

“What’s in Chetwynd?”

“Can’t you find work in Prince George?”

These are all frequent questions that I’m faced with after I tell my friends and family where I work.

I know, it’s odd for a 24-year-old new graduate nurse to leave her home town of Prince George, a place of roughly 80,000 people, and move to a community of 2,500. So yeah… I can understand why these questions come up.

Let me tell you: “Why Chetwynd.”

Picture this: I’m commuting to work, and I barely get through two songs on the radio because the whole drive is a staggering five minutes – including my Timmies run. Upon my triumphant arrival, I’m greeted by every staff member, and I mean everyone, in the hospital (*cue Cheers theme song*).

You might think I’m being sarcastic, but the part I truly cherish most about my job is the friendships that I’ve made in the past year and a half. Working in a rural facility means that the x-ray department isn’t just the x-ray department; it’s made up of friends that you go out for wings with, and people whose strengths and weaknesses you know. You begin to appreciate not only the teamwork of your department, but of the healthcare team as a whole.

steph goulet with her team in chetwynd.

Steph and her team of physicians: Dr. Sadeer Hanoosh, Dr. Rafal Banas, and Dr. Osamah Hanoosh.

Another rural nursing benefit that I really enjoy is the amount of time I get to spend with patients. I always hear from friends who work in larger facilities that the patient turn-over rate is so high, you don’t really get time to see a full picture of your patients. In Chetwynd, not only do I often get to triage, treat, and admit clients, but I also get to follow through with their care.

I’ve enjoyed getting to see the whole picture, and I can confidently say that this continuity of care has given me a solid foundation in my overall client care-planning skills.

Though I’m leaving Chetwynd to return home while I specialize in emergency nursing, I won’t forget the experiences and knowledge that I’ve gained from being the “everything nurse.” I can’t imagine what my nursing practice would look like without the mentorship and guidance of the physicians and nursing staff in this awesome little community.

I plan to bring the positivity of rural nursing wherever I go, and I’d like to thank everyone at the Chetwynd Hospital, Primary Care Clinic, and BC Ambulance for their welcoming environment, and genuine good times. I’d proudly recommend Chetwynd to anyone looking for a great rural healthcare experience, and will look back on my time spent here fondly, with a permanent smile!

About Stephanie Goulet

Stephanie is a Registered Nurse with Northern Health.