Jan. 11, 2022

Nursing alumna discovered love for labour and delivery nursing in her final placement as a student

Yeny Carolina Lara, BN'17, talks about addressing her mental health, best memories from UCalgary and what she values most
Yeny Lara at work in PLC
Yeny Lara, BN'17 is a labour and delivery nurse at the Peter Lougheed Centre.

Every nurse today is owed at least one extravagance. Yeny Lara, BN’17, would reach for a gourmet treat or fancy cheese as her small luxury, but it’s the look she gets from patients who trust and appreciate her support that fuels her love of nursing.

Once an active volunteer as a nursing student, the labour and delivery RN who doubles as a fertility and in vitro fertilization (IVF) nurse has easily earned her small rewards.

Lara has kept close ties with the nursing faculty since she graduated more than four years ago. Read on as she speaks candidly about how she lifted her spirits during her undergraduate studies and the rules she lives by now as a busy RN, mentor and graduate student.

Yeny Lara, BN'17

Yeny Lara, BN'17

Where are you now and how did you end up there?
“I am currently working as a labour and delivery (L&D) nurse at Peter Lougheed Centre (PLC) as well as a fertility and IVF nurse at the Regional Fertility Program (RFP). I completed my final focus in L&D at PLC and loved it very much, so after five months in rural remote nursing in Alberta, I was invited to return to the unit where I worked for almost four years before deciding to split my time between RFP and the hospital. 
I'm currently just commencing my new role and I'm loving having both opportunities. As an obstetrician-gynecologist colleague of mine at RFP said, 'I get to put them in, and then I get to take them out!'"

Is there any one thing that could have prevented you from getting there?
“Definitely not addressing my mental health. I have anxiety and I know that not taking care of it by beginning therapy in October of 2020 would have likely ended my nursing career due to burnout and trauma in the midst of COVID-19. 2021 was an extremely rough year for my husband and I and I don't think I could have made it without the strategies and assistance I received in therapy and the support from our family, friends and my faith.”

Best memory from UCalgary Nursing?
“Too many to count! My best moments were definitely volunteering for the faculty and for the community at large. I got to do some amazing things during my four years, and then even after graduation I have continued volunteering through the alumni committee and now through the Nursing Graduate Students’ Association as I complete my Master’s in the Graduate Certificate program.

“I also have amazingly fond memories of hanging out in the Undergraduate Nursing Society room and in the nursing lounge and just getting to know each other and getting to debrief and bond with classmates that became friends and family.”

What did you do in your spare time during your nursing program?
“Other than volunteering, I liked to visit the library and ‘study.’ (Also known as hanging out with friends from other faculties and joking around.) For actual studying, I usually headed to the MacKimmie basement or the upper floors of the library. I also loved going to the monthly campus community kitchen, hanging out in Mac Hall, going to the gym (and doing all the fun programs the Student Union put on during lunch hours) and of course, shenanigans at The Den.”

A talent you wish you had?
“I would love to sing well! I love singing but I'm atrocious so it would be so nice to sing loudly among other humans.”

A dream yet to fulfill?
“I would love to come back as staff for the University of Calgary, and also I'd love to become Dr. Yeny Lara one day!”

Your motto?

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. - Nelson Mandela

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Desmond Tutu"

What do you consider a most overrated virtue?
“Civility. I think there's a huge difference between respecting the humanity of others and being ‘civil.’ In fact, I believe a lot of oppressors convince the oppressed that they must be civil and withstand abuse and trauma silently.”

When were you happiest, and where?
“Either being at my grandma's house with my entire family, or being on my honeymoon with my husband two days after our wedding and two weeks before life as we knew it would end. (End of February 2020.) We went to the Dominican Republic and stayed in a fantastic resort!

“Recently the Calgary Flames did an amazing homage to health-care workers during their first home game and I got lucky and was selected as one of the honourees! It was so fun and they brought us to the ice for the anthem – I cried when the audience gave us a standing ovation – and also gave us some amazing swag. We got to watch the game from one of the super suites, and my husband is a Flames super-fan, so it was amazing to see him so happy and excited after a tough year. He's been my support through all of my career and the end of my schooling and it was so heartwarming to see him receive a benefit after everything he's done for me and my career in the past five years. He was like a kid on Christmas morning!”

Yeny Lara at Flames game

Yeny Lara was selected as one of the honourees at a Calgary Flames game where they did an homage to health-care workers during their first home game.

Anything you’d rather be doing right now?
“I'm ready for bed! I'm hitting an early hot yoga class tomorrow at 6 a.m., so I'm looking forward to my blankets.”

What do you most value in your friends?
“Support and honesty. I want them to be able to be truly themselves with me and bring any worries and fears they have so that we can face them together – and I want them to do the same for me in return.”

Did you have a mentor or do you now?
“A collection of amazing role models throughout my life that I admire greatly, but not one in particular!”

What is it about being a nurse or your role that keeps you going?
“The look a patient gives me when they trust me and they appreciate my support. Some of the worst labour and delivery cases were instantly made better when I knew my patient trusted me, and they were able to feel comfortable and safe with my care. Also, being a part of someone's birth is quite likely one of the biggest honours a person can receive, in my opinion!”

Any advice to share with new grads?
“Always look out for your mental health. If you don't feel right please reach out for help. It took me three years to reach out to a therapist, and I wish I had done it so much earlier. Don't let anyone guilt you into working more than what your body, mind and soul can handle. It's not your responsibility to manage staff shortages.

Remember your patients have the right to consent, and the right to refuse. Make sure they understand they can decline any and all interventions, and constantly work on your patient education skills.

Don't let anyone dictate where you need to work as a new graduate. If your passion is a specialty and you have the opportunity to join, do it! I work with L&D nurses that have held the same position for 25+ years and they're experts in their field. Not having medical-surgical experience is not detrimental to working in specialties or working in the community as long as you have the required skills. Apply for the jobs you want. Worst thing that can happen is they don't pick you.”

If you’re a graduate of UCalgary Nursing and would like to share your journey since graduation, fill out this easy online form to tell us where you are now.