Barb Schuerkamp is (one of) the best nurse(s) in the province

Trent Ernst, Editor


Tumbler Ridge Health Centre Head Nurse Barb Schuerkamp was one of 36 nurses to be recognized in the 2014 College of Registered Nurses in British Columbia (CRNBC).

The awards, given out in seven categories “honour colleagues for their outstanding contributions to the profession and demonstrating excellence in relation to the CRNBC Professional Standards for Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners.”

Charles Helm has worked with Schuerkamp since 1992. He says the award is well deserved in recognition of “the exemplary service and leadership she has provided in nursing in Tumbler Ridge for over 25 years.”

“Her role-model and mentor status is acknowledged, which has helped considerably with recruiting other nurses to the demanding job of rural ER nursing,” says Charles. “She has gone to considerable lengths to maintain her CPD standards, and has gone beyond this, often voluntarily attending CME events for physicians in the hope of improving the ER services we jointly provide. She has taken a leadership role in organizing similar events with our pharmacists so as to better understand ER medication use.”

But it’s not just her nursing abilities, says Charles. Barb sets a fine example to the community members by practicing what she preaches. “Her contributions to Community Health go much further than her ER and administrative work. She volunteers tirelessly at community events with a health focus, such as cross country running races, the Emperor’s Challenge Mountain Run, the Ridge Ramble Biathlon, and the Banff Mountain Film Festival. At such events her role often includes voluntary first aid support.”

And she was one of the people who stood up when Tumbler Ridge was going through troubled times. “There have been times when its future has been written off, and its health services have been in jeopardy. It is because of the leadership and spirit of people like Barb that the community survived, and that its health services continue to be provided at the highest possible level.”

Helms says there are four traits for which she deserves this award. “First, for staying the course. Many excellent nurses have come and gone, but the sheer staying power of Barb in surviving 25 years is remarkable. Second, her leadership skills, which have resulted in a central organizing role. Thirdly, her communication skills and team-player personality. Many are the times I have told anyone prepared to listen that for an example of how different people and departments work together successfully, a visit to the Tumbler Ridge Health Centre is all they need. Barb deserves much of the credit for this through her ability to communicate effectively with diverse groups and individuals.”

Finally, says Helm, her compassion and care for her patients, combined with “her spunky sense of humour and passion for her work. Barb’s unique personality and enthusiasm complements the excellence she displays in other fields to yield a final package which is both remarkable and inspiring. This will be her enduring legacy, and is something those who have come under her care love and value immensely.

“Tumbler Ridge has been very lucky to have had a nurse of her quality for twenty-five years. This award of excellence is, in my opinion, a fitting and much deserved recognition for her immense contribution and exemplary work.”