The English in the Workplace program proved to be a lifesaver for Janna Mercado, creating a positive impact on her work at a Dartmouth nursing home. “There are times you just don’t get the simple conversations like: ‘Do you need a lift?’ I had no idea someone was offering me a drive; I’d say no and they would wonder why.”
Janna came to Canada in 2011, at 23, on a work permit through the Provincial Nominee Program. “I didn’t even know this place existed,” she says. “My destiny brought me here.” She had taken her Registered Nurse’s exam in the Philippines through a New York licensing agency. Because she learned English in school, she worked in a hospital that treated foreigners. “I was able to explain procedures to them,” she says, adding that she would sometimes talk to doctors in English as well.
In Nova Scotia she quickly found work at a nursing home as a Licensed Practical Nurse. While she found her skills matched the job, specific language was a challenge. ISANS provided her with a teacher for two hours a week for six weeks. “I felt privileged to have the help,” says Janna. “She evaluated my language skills; she made comments and specific suggestions on how to become fluent; she taught me the jargon; she helped me with medical terms.” Janna appreciated the practical one-on-one work as she had been concerned that she might use the wrong words or even the wrong tone of voice while providing care. “Coming from another country it’s great that ISANS is here to help. It gives me more confidence to speak up.”
Helping people, that’s what life is about.
Janna was also lucky to have relatives nearby who have lived in Nova Scotia since 1966. “At first I was scared to drive and they’d give me a drive.” She lived with two Filipino friends, but because of a desire for independence she saved her earnings and found her own apartment, a 15-minute walk to work.
Janna is now at a second nursing home – the Admiral Long-Term Care Centre in Dartmouth –and loves her job. It will take her two years to become a Registered Nurse in Canada, something she may yet pursue. “It takes time to adjust to living here. You have to be psychologically and emotionally ready.”
Different food is a challenge and, as well, she misses her family. Filipino culture has very close family ties, she explains.
But Janna is high spirited and committed to succeed. This attitude serves her well at the nursing home where she is popular with clients and makes a real impact on their lives. “The residents are so nice. It makes me happy to work with them as their families aren’t here every day. I can comfort them and be their advocate. Helping people, that’s what life is about.”