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Nursing school opens door to career

Brian Stretch stands in front of the Dave Russell Educational Complex. The school is located in the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury and gives students the opportunity to become registered psychiatric nurses.


The recession felt right across Alberta in 2009 affected all of us. From the painter to the motorhand, the insurance agent to the cook. Slow downs don’t discriminate against the poor or the wealthy, the black or the white; it attacks all of us, often with devastating results.

When one door closes, another door opens.Alexander Graham Bell

The trouble with Mr. Bell’s statement is that sometimes it’s painful when the first door closes; you’re never quite sure when that next door will open.

Brian Stretch knows this all too well.

For 12 years Stretch was a journeyman welder working out of a shop in Wetaskiwin. In 2009, when the economy slowed down, he had essentially priced himself out of a job.

“I was overqualified as a journeyman welder, it was easier to keep someone who was making less money. I applied all around, to all of the major shops because I figured they might be the only ones still hiring. But they were just doing their best to keep the guys they had. It was hard,” said Stretch.

Door closed

And with two young children, Kelsey, 9, and Cameron, 7, not to mention mortgage and car payments, he couldn’t afford to have that door stay closed for too long. Stretch looked into becoming a bus driver and considered a variety of other jobs but it was one of their friends who suggested the Dave Russell Educational Complex might offer him the opportunity he needed.

“My mom was an aide when I was growing up, so I was familiar with the place. I knew one of the secretaries, her kids play soccer with our kids, and we got talking, plus we had researched the program for my wife and I thought it could be a good opportunity.”

Door open

After a year of travelling to Red Deer College to upgrade some of his courses and a lot of hard work and support from wife Kristie, Stretch was accepted into the faculty of psychiatric nursing this year.

Currently in his first year at Dave Russell, a satellite school for Mac- Ewan University, Stretch was happy he had the chance to further his education and ultimately his new career close to home and near to his family.

“It’s excellent, I mean I’m five minutes from home. It’s really a great opportunity and I plan on working in the hospital right here when I’m done, so it couldn’t be a better fit.”