Nov. 7, 2023

Alumni nurse brings wealth of knowledge to faculty NP clinic that promotes nurses helping nurses

Amanda Loates, BA’04, BN’10, MEd’23, returns to her alma mater to support mental health and wellness at the Faculty of Nursing
Woman with long brown hair
Amanda Loates BA’04, BN’10, MEd’23, Registered Nurse, UCalgary Nursing NP Mental Health & Wellness Clinic

For 13 years, Amanda Loates BA’04, BN’10, MEd’23, worked in the community in roles supporting people’s mental health and addiction. She’s passionate about supporting marginalized populations and worked for five years as a street outreach and stabilization nurse in a partnership between Canadian Mental Health Association and Alberta Health Services Sheldon M. Chumir Centre Urgent Mental Health.

“I completed my BA in psychology prior to my BN and the plan was to work as an undergrad nurse over the summer before I graduated to build up my knowledge and skills in the physical side,” she says. “There was a hiring freeze so that didn't happen. I ended up in inpatient mental health but always was keen on community and supporting marginalized populations. 

“Just as the opioid poisoning epidemic was starting, I transitioned to working in a clinic doing therapy and psychoeducation with military and RCMP members that had mental health due to their service,” she says.  

From there, Loates held several other community-based mental health and addiction positions including with the Police and Crisis Team (PACT), Mobile Response Team (MRT), and even had a brief job with Forensic Outpatient and Assessment Services supporting clients that were found not criminally responsible. 

In September, Loates joined the Faculty of Nursing’s NP Mental Health and Wellness Clinic team as a registered nurse. She’s using her skills to help nursing students strengthen and develop in a model that promotes nurses helping nurses. She brings a deep well of knowledge and experience including assessment, trauma-informed approaches, group development and implementation and several therapeutic modalities that inform the coaching support she offers. 

Loates is a three-time alumni from the University of Calgary and this year, she completed her Masters of Education. The first two years of her program, she focused on the Niitsitapii (Indigenous) epistemological and ontological perspective, reflecting Poo’miikapii (Indigenous approaches to wellness) and Niitsitapiisinni (Indigenous art, politics, and history) and she gratefully offers these experiences to support clients of the clinic. 

Where are you now and how did you end up there? 

“I'm working with the Faculty of Nursing Mental Health and Wellness Clinic. It was a strange and wonderful journey to come back to the University of Calgary again."

"I found I was itching to go back to school after about 10 years in practice and began looking for a program I would be inspired by. I landed in the Masters of Education at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary, where I completed their stackable Masters.

My first two years focused on Indigenous knowledge and out of interest, I reached out to see what the Faculty of Nursing was working on to implement the TRC recommendations. I then got roped into sessional instructing for NUR289 during COVID, along with two to three other jobs. I'm apparently not one to sit still.

I loved teaching but wasn't fully ready to give up community mental health and addiction work. Then, once I completed my master’s, the perfect combination of clinical work (the nurse-led Mental Health and Wellness Clinic) and teaching (NUR289 again) presented itself. I consider myself so lucky to be where I am and am so grateful for the opportunities. I am learning every day and am so inspired by my coworkers, leaders and students.”  
Is there any one thing that could have prevented you from getting there? 
“My self doubts. I'm glad I found a way to work with them.”  
Best memory from UCalgary Nursing 
“Feeling my fears and worries normalized by my first clinical instructor. Our first class, of our first practicum, the instructor purposefully asked each of us to speak about our biggest fear in nursing; what were the things we were worried about. He encouraged us with stories of his own worry initially and helped create a place where we could share these thoughts without judgment. He then spoke to us about how to engage with these fears and worries. I remember mine was blood and so for my shadow shift, I decided to go to surgery to test my tolerance. Laparoscopic surgery doesn’t really produce a lot of blood but I learn a lot from this experience." 
What did you do in your spare time during your nursing program? 

“Hung out with my new boy. He was just a baby then and time with him was precious. Now, he's almost graduated high school!” 
A talent you wish you had 
“To play the ukulele. I have two but haven't figured them out yet!”  
Your motto? 
“Like water on rock.” 
When were you happiest, and where? 
“Couple of places in the here and now. For example, my work and being with my family. In the past, it was at my grandparent's island in Muskoka. We had such wonderful adventures with no electricity or running water. We had to make our own fun.”  
Did you have a mentor or do you now? 
“I think I've had and currently have several mentors that are supporting my growth and learning as both a nurse and an educator. I appreciate having a wide variety of input and insights from so many accomplished smart people.”  
What is it about being a nurse/your role that keeps you going? 
“The variety and the need to continue to learn. I love that it is a profession that is constantly evolving and expanding with such a wonderful variety of roles we can fill for our communities.” 
Any snippets of advice to share with new grads?  
“Care for yourself as much as you're caring for others, if not more. You are your most important ‘tool’ in your work; your body, mind and spirit. Care for them well. And don't be afraid of change or trying something new. It may lead you to a most unexpected and wonderful place.” 

The Faculty of Nursing’s NP Mental Health & Wellness Clinic, located in PF 122, is a nurse practitioner (NP)-led mental health and well-being clinic that offers support for nursing faculty, students and staff.