Wider Horizons

Some children dream of growing up to become rock stars, rocket scientists or prime ministers. For Rianne Rianne VanderburgVanderburg, a broken femur as a child laid the ground work for her dream of becoming a nurse.


Vanderburg grew up playing soccer in the Red Deer area, so she was looking for an educational experience a little bit further away from home. Having heard about Lethbridge College’s soccer team and nursing program, she made the move south and graduated from the college and university’s NESA Bachelor of Nursing program in 2012.



“Lethbridge College has a good combination of lecture and clinical that really set me ahead in my field,” says Vanderburg. “Lethbridge was a lot more hands on. You’ve already worked in hospitals and you’re not waiting for your fourth year to see a needle for the first time.”



A year after graduation, Vanderburg had an opportunity to travel with A Better World Canada, an Alberta organization that works to ensure that communities in eastern Africa and beyond have the necessities to sustain health, education, water supply, basic agriculture and economic growth. Vanderburg shared her skills as a nurse in a variety of communities in Kenya.



“We provided basic care from wound care, to medication advice and education, and we did a lot of maternity health education and care,” she says. This experience led Vanderburg to expand her education into tropical medicine at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom, where she visited Australia to pursue her nursing career.



Today you can find Vanderburg at South Health Campus in Calgary in the psychiatric emergency service and psychiatric outreach. “My travels and studies allowed for me to have the confidence and independence in my job today.”



Working primarily with the mental health field, Vanderburg advocates strongly for those who deal with the negative stigma of reaching out for mental health help. Wanting to tear down the walls of the mental health stigma, Vanderburg spends much of her time at work educating the public about how good mental health is important to lead a healthy and productive life.



“Mental health doesn’t get the attention like a cardiac unit or surgery unit gets,” says Vanderburg. “You do a lot more promotions in awareness and pushing for change in the mental health field.”



Most people in Canada are in some way touched by mental health. Whether someone is dealing with or supporting someone with mild or severe depression, a suicide attempt in the family, or even a person experiencing a first psychotic break, Vanderburg provides the advocacy and education for those seeking help. Getting positive feedback from patients – whether in the office environment or a public setting – is really what drives Vanderburg’s success in her career.



“Having someone come up to you at the grocery store saying ‘thank you so much for your guidance and support’ in that time they were struggling, is really the most rewarding aspect of my job,” she says.


Wider Horizons
Melissa Belter
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