Paula Bailey: Advocating for education and cultural sensitivity in healthcare

Paula Bailey is a primary care nurse practitioner who advocates for cultural sensitivity and inclusiveness. Photo supplied.

By Chevi Rabbit

(ANNews) – Paula Bailey, a primary care nurse practitioner, proudly embraces her European and Indigenous heritage. As part of a growing demographic celebrating their rich histories, she stands as a role model, both in her professional career and in the beauty industry. Through her journey, Paula uplifts others and demonstrates the possibilities that lie ahead.

“I grew up in Fort McMurray, Alberta, with a mixture of Indigenous and Caucasian heritage,” Bailey shared. “My family roots are European and Indigenous, with my dad’s side hailing from Newfoundland and my late mother from the Northwest Territories, specifically the hamlet of Fort Resolution.”

Bailey’s upbringing fueled her passion for promoting health and wellness within Indigenous communities. “My late grandmother, Elizabeth Giroux, worked as a community health representative in Fort Resolution,” she explained. “Her dedication inspired me to pursue nursing.”

After graduating from the University of Alberta in 2005, Bailey began her registered nursing career with Health Canada, serving First Nations communities in the Edmonton area. Over the years she worked in other capacities but always circled back to her passion of Indigenous health.

Paula’s experiences with Indigenous populations ultimately motivated her to further her education. “Witnessing the unique needs and challenges drove me to pursue a master’s in nursing, specializing as a Nurse Practitioner,” Bailey noted. In 2023, Bailey obtained her master’s degree from the University of Saskatchewan and began providing primary care services in the Rocky Mountain House area.

In her youth and alongside her nursing career, Bailey pursued modeling as a means of personal growth and empowerment. “Modeling allowed me to step out of my shell and gain confidence,” she stated. “It’s been a journey of self-discovery and connection with fellow Indigenous artists and models like Michelle Houle and Lauren Bellerose.”

Paula graced the pages of local fashion publications in Alberta, with features in the Edmonton Journal and having television appearances during Western Canada Fashion Week. Paula was also a top 20 contestant in the Miss Universe Canada pageant in 2009.

Paula’s interest in the beauty and fashion sector also transpired into obtaining certification in cosmetic injections in 2019, which has since evolved as another passion in her career. “The cosmetic injection industry has become mainstream with its purposes in self-care and aging gracefully,” she affirmed. This transition marks a rare instance of an Indigenous nurse with a master’s degree offering services that focus on empowering others in a way that contrasts her work in Indigenous communities.

“I enjoy the balance of both passions; they are each unique and rewarding in their own ways,” she noted. “As a licensed medical professional, my priority is to ensure safety and build trust through the quality of care I deliver, regardless of the setting I am in.” When Paula is not working as a nurse practitioner in Indigenous communities, she is occupied with advancing her skills in medical aesthetics from her home base of Calgary.

Bailey acknowledges the significance of government investment in Aboriginal health careers programs and encourages Indigenous youth to pursue these opportunities in post-secondary education. “Education is key to success and empowerment,” she emphasizes. “I aim to inspire Indigenous youth to explore their passions and contribute to their communities.”

Advocating for education and cultural competence within healthcare, Bailey maintains her dedication to serving Indigenous communities and fostering holistic well-being. By investing in local talent and empowering Indigenous individuals to enter healthcare professions, both Indigenous communities and the broader Canadian population stand to benefit and thrive.

Chevi Rabbit is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter.

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