Paula James was raised on the prairies, but the new Kamloops-based regional director of renal care for Interior Health has always felt more at home in British Columbia.
“I’ve always loved the BC interior,” says Paula. “I love the smell of the air here, and the mountains and trees and all the outdoor activities.”
That latter point certainly becomes apparent as she lists her favourite pastimes – fishing, kayaking, “quading”, hiking, snow-shoeing and skiing. “I love the outdoors,” says Paula, underscoring the obvious.
Paula brings the same passion to her work, and has a strong affinity for her new leadership role with IHA. Although she has never worked in renal before, she likes the broad spectrum of care that it covers and how it “pulls everything together” in the area of chronic disease management.
Paula’s decision to pursue a career in health care was formed when she was a girl, growing up in the village of Mistatim, Saskatchewan (population 73). As her parents were occupied with the farming and gardening, Paula spent many days and nights with her grandparents. Her grandmother had diabetes, which eventually led to kidney disease. Paula credits the declining health of her grandparents for sparking her interest in becoming a nurse.
Following nursing school in Regina, Paula worked in a number of locations and health care settings through the 1990s, and eventually took on more administrative roles. She received a Masters degree of health studies in leadership from Athabasca University in 2009. Prior to starting her current position with Interior Health, she was general manager of Kamloops Seniors Village.
This fall she’ll be setting out on yet another outdoorsy adventure; this one selected from her “bucket list” – riding horseback on a cattle drive in the Chilcotin region with 350 head of cattle.
“I don’t know anything about cattle drives,” says Paula, “but I’m really looking forward to getting out there and doing it.”