Leah Gorham, 42, recently decided to leave her job as a nurse after a long career in the industry to become a truck driver. She spent decades caring for surgery patients in a Canadian hospital only to pursue a different, high-demand career.
Gorham said she loved being a nurse, but frustrations with recurring staff shortages – which she said began before the COVID-19 outbreak – and a lack of development drove her to seek new employment.
Her boyfriend, a truck driver and independent owner-operator, suggested that she try life behind the wheel.
“I was just going to regret my career being where it was and not being able to advance was really maddening to me,” Gorham said.
Gorham’s career choice comes as the trucking sector strives to fill a large number of vacancies in order to help bolster the supply chain.
The American Trucking Associations reported a record 80,000 driver shortage in October. Gorham participated in a 12-week truck-driving class in October of last year, spending over $8,000 ($10,000 Canadian) to obtain her license.
She and her boyfriend are now driving together.
Gorham had not even traveled much or even left New Brunswick Province in the past 20 years when she started driving.
She’s now seeing a lot of the United States and Canada from the cab of an 18-wheeler.
Gorham was inspired to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) by the nurses who cared for her father, who died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 40.”It was something that I just took off with, and I absolutely loved it and for a long time,” she said.
Gorham claimed she’d climbed as far up the career ladder as she could without furthering her education.
The New Brunswick government is working hard to increase the number of nursing school available seats in the province, and a report published from the Department of Health predicted a shortage of 130 nurses per year over the next ten years – but that was before the strains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This nursing problem has been there my entire career,” Gorham said. “The pandemic is just showing the real stress of the situation.
According to the New Brunswick Nurses Union, there are 1,000 registered nurse vacancies in the province between nursing homes and regional health authorities.
According to the union, there is also a shortfall of 300 licensed practical nurses.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, stated on Friday that omicron variant infections may have peaked nationally.
“However, daily hospital and ICU numbers are still rising steeply, and many hospitals across Canada are under intense strain,” Tam said.
Gorham said that the staff shortage was difficult for everyone and that “there was no end in sight.”
Gorham, on the other hand, misses nursing and the people she worked with and has a great deal of respect for the hard work they perform.
She has kept her license on inactive status so that she can return to nursing.
But for the time being, she’s very content behind the wheel.