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Country Star Tips His Cap to Canada’s Most Deserving Caregivers

Paul Brandt in winter
Paul Brandt in winter

Before his music career soared, Paul Brandt had another career as a pediatric registered nurse in Calgary. But before becoming the most awarded male Canadian country singer and being inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, Brandt played a different tune.

Mediaplanet: What inspired you to become a nurse?

Paul Brandt: My father was a paramedic, and my mom was an RN. She was actually a year ahead of me in nursing school, which was a bit weird. You’re trying to make your way in the world and impress your friends, and your mom comes and kisses you on the forehead. Their focus was always on helping others, and they really inspired me to be in a helping profession— and that had a lot to do with my decision. I was nervous when I left my nursing career but saw I was also able to help, heal, and raise awareness with music.

What was the most rewarding part of your career?

As a pediatric RN, when working with kids, there’s something about it that makes you feel like you’re giving them a second chance at life. There’s something that seems so unfair about a child being ill. Although there are a lot of funny stories, and you see kids being kids, there are also heartbreaking times. The most rewarding part wasn’t only helping the children but their families too. Whether a positive or negative situation, you know you can give them your best.

What was the most challenging part of being a nurse?

There’s definitely emotional wear and tear as you bring patient stories home. You feel those feelings within. They can’t pay nurses and medical support staff enough to do the job they do. You don’t simply punch out and have those feelings go away— and that can be one of the biggest challenges.

How has being a nurse shaped your career?

While working as an RN, I was given my dream opportunity to work in ICU, and offered a record deal in the same week. Talk about a tough choice! I couldn’t have imagined the direction my life took. It made me look at my music as a platform and an opportunity to use my visibility to help people. Before I create anything, I always ask myself: “Does the world need this?” As an RN, you’re always trying to be an advocate, stand up for people in different situations, and try to find ways to make the world a better place.

Paul Brandt smiling

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to pursue a post-secondary education in nursing?

I’d say get ready to learn how to learn. That’s the most valuable piece of advice I can give. You have to be able to pivot quickly, be disciplined, and be up to date on the most cutting-edge knowledge. You’ll learn so much in a short period of time.It really is an incredible life skill and makes you feel like you can handle anything! I loved it— the profession is not only technical but it’s artistic!

What was it like being a man in the nursing field?

When I started nursing in 1994, topics and issues around gender roles weren’t discussed, but were felt. As a minority in a female-dominated profession, I really stood out. It was inspiring to work side by side with my female counterparts—complementing each other, naturally bringing our strengths, and empowering each other when needed. We found incredible ways to complement each other and work as a team, and I really cherish that experience. It’s an incredible career.

What is one thing you would like to say to all Canadian nurses?

PB: THANK YOU. With all that nurses pour into patients, families, and supporting society, there’s never enough we can do to say thanks, and I’m so grateful there are people to put themselves on the line as they do.

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