Jackie Koufie - Operations Leader, Maternity and NICU

Written by Evan Duxbury

Providence Health Care is fortunate to employ staff from around the world who bring their expertise, knowledge and perspective to our care centers. Jackie Koufie, born in Ghana, brings her nurse training from the UK and her ten years of midwifery experience from Saudi Arabia.

She came to BC after speaking with a North Vancouver based friend whose recommendation led Jackie to a resource called BabyBC, which featured a posting at St Paul’s for a perinatal nurse. After eventually transitioning to an educator position she was hired as the Maternity and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) operations leader.

As an OL, there’s always something new to deal with, which keeps things fresh. Working in the Maternity Department, I get to work on my passion: womens’ health. Ours is a Level 3 Maternity Unit, one of only three in the province, and we’re the only ones with a Cardiac and Renal Obstetrics Program. As a result, I get to make and influence decisions that affect not only our department, but women across the province.”

Jackie cautions that transitioning to a new role in a new country wasn’t without its challenges.

Canadian culture was different to what I was used to. People here are very polite, but I miss the expatriate community in Saudi Arabia, which was a very closely knit group. In the hospital, even the most basic things had new names I had to learn. In the UK, 'the OR' is ‘the theatre,’ ‘Tylenol’ is ‘Paracetamol’ and instead of ‘paging somebody,’ we’d say ‘bleeping somebody.’

Jackie credits her support group at PHC for smoothing her transition by getting her up to speed quickly and helping her grow into the OL position.

I’ve had a wonderful support structure; our directors in particular, Cheryl Bishop and now Linda Lemke, have been fantastic. They’ve done a great job creating a safe environment for me to ask questions and go to them about anything. My fellow OLs are a great group, and my advisors in HR and Finance have done a great job keeping me out of trouble.

The culture at Providence, and of the team I work with, is fantastic. All of us work very closely in the Maternity and NICU wards, both physicians and nurses. We’re busy but we still make it a habit to come together for tea at 15:00. It’s nice to come to work with such great people.”

When asked if she had any tips for other workers abroad, Jackie had this to say: “Stay open minded. Anticipate that things will be different and that you’ll probably run into challenges. If you approach them with the intention of learning from them, you’re going to come out so much further ahead. Oh, and if you’re planning to work in Vancouver, don’t forget to bring your brollie and wellies.”

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