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A Canadian in Mississippi
No Nursing Jobs in Ontario
In 1995 I was struggling to find full time work as a Registered Nurse in Canada. I lived in London, Ontario. At the time most hospitals wouldn't hire anyone without experience so being a newly graduated Nurse it was next to impossible to get a job. I consulted a resume service to hone my resume and they referred me to an agency for travel nurses. The travel nurse agency called me with offers immediately; however they were all short term positions in the United States. I had no vehicle or steady source of income at the time, so I had no idea how I was supposed to get there or pay for a way to get there. It was really disconcerting that I had placed in the top ten percentile on the Ontario Nursing Licensure Boards and I couldn't even get a job in Canada. I told my Mom about it and she immediately offered to take me anywhere I wanted to go. Problem solved. So I accepted a position in Jackson, Mississippi. This is going to sound really ignorant but I had no idea that there was a state named Mississippi. I thought Mississippi was just the name of the river.
I had to travel to Buffalo, New York to take the NCLEX and that went well. I received my Mississippi Nurses License about two weeks after the exam, and I have to say the NCLEX was a breeze compared to the Ontario Licensure exam. With all of my credentials (or so I thought) I was ready to go. We started our journey on a Friday afternoon after saying our goodbyes. We made it to the border crossing in Windsor and went into the immigration office and I plunked down my identification and credentials. Here's where it gets interesting; I didn't have my Nursing Diploma with me so I was denied a working visa and not allowed to cross the border into the United States.
Now what? Well it was getting late so we decided to get a room close by and try again in the morning. First thing in the morning on Saturday we head to the border to try again, and (you guessed it) denied. Big dilemma; I had to be In Jackson by Monday to start my assignment. I should add that I couldn't make it to my graduation ceremony, so I didn't have my actual diploma. I was dumbfounded; then all of a sudden my Mom pulls over the car into a restaurant parking lot and exclaims I have an idea and she jumps out of the car and into the restaurant telling us (my Grandmother came along for the ride) to stay in the car. Shortly, Mom emerges from the restaurant and says we are going back to London to get your diploma. Huh?...It was Saturday how in the world did she pull that off? Mom had called the college and actually got in touch with someone who located my diploma and told her that we could come to the school and get it.
Back to the Border
I was ready to give up but my Mom was determined. When I look back now I supposed she really wanted me to succeed. With diploma, and all the other documents in hand, we went to the immigration office again. The same officers were still on duty, and I observed them nudging each other and overheard; "here they come again". We got the work visa and were on our way. The rest of the trip was blissfully uneventful. We arrived in Jackson at my new address at about four o'clock in the afternoon on Sunday.
First Encounter with the Southern Belle
Monday arrives I am full of nervous anticipation. I arrive at the Hospital I am assigned to. I am to be meeting the nursing recruiter that morning. When the meeting finally takes place I meet this proper, gracious, drawling, southern lady. I was in awe. I had never met anyone like her in my life. While Canadians are friendly they don't go out of their way to be courteous. This little lady spoke to everyone that we passed in her southern drawl "good mornin". I was hooked, at that moment I wanted to be part of that world.
I have been In Mississippi ever since that meeting. My now husband was my then boyfriend. We married shortly after I moved to Mississippi. We love Mississippi. It is in my opinion a rough cut jewel just waiting to be polished. Mississippi is diverse, hospitable, and full of opportunities. There is no place on earth like Mississippi.