CAF Story | The Two Uniforms of a Military Nurse

Video / October 16, 2020


I’m Captain Rebecca Parent at the Ottawa Health Services Centre. I studied nursing at Cégep Garneau, in Québec city, and worked as a civilian until 2008. Only after that did I decide to join the Canadian Armed Forces as a nursing officer. And since 2019, I’ve been assigned to the Ottawa Health Services Centre.

The first thing we did was open a clinic at another site, with the medical resources that we had here. So, we have a clinic that was opened at NDMC. A COVID clinic that’s really just there for people who present with symptoms, who need to be treated or tested.

We set up that clinic in a few days. I myself was deployed in charge of the clinic there for about a month until I left for Op LASER in Montréal. I was deployed in the long-term care homes (CHSLD) this spring, and I saw members from armoured elements helping care for people. With three days of training, they did very well. For me, it was a setting that I knew, but all the same, readjusting to all of that, which is not necessarily easy, but I think we managed fairly well.

When I was deployed on Op LASER in Montréal, yes, I was put in high-risk places as a CAF member, but you can’t forget the civilians who work in these places day and night, who were there before us, who are still there after we left. But I think it’s part of the health trade. It’s not just physical injuries, it’s taking care of people who have illnesses that could be contagious, that could have an impact on our own health. I think that’s really part of what we sign up for when we decide to do this trade.

Wearing the uniform, yes, it’s a dual role, if I can call it that, a double responsibility. One thing that stands out for me is how my life has developed since I joined the Forces. My clinical knowledge has improved greatly. I’ve grown in terms of my career, and on a personal level too. Having been transferred to places all over the country as well. I know my country very well now, I think I can say. And it’s made me grow as a person, that’s important to point out.

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