Breyanna Hiebert began volunteering at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital as a teenager. She is now pursuing a career in social work in a medical setting.

Volunteering at Nanaimo hospital leads to health career

NANAIMO – Breyanna Hiebert's experience at Nanaimo hospital inspired her social work education.

Ever since childhood, Breyanna Hiebert knew her career would involve helping others.

“I wanted to have a direct impact on making people’s lives better,” she said.

Her mother, a former hospital volunteer, encouraged Hiebert to start volunteering at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital when she was 15. Hiebert has been a valuable part of the NRGH volunteer team since then. She also volunteered at Royal Jubilee Hospital for a year while she was studying at Camosun College in Victoria.

The 22-year-old Langara College student is now on track to become a social worker in a medical setting, largely because of the positive experience she has had volunteering with Island Health. She is still volunteering at the NRGH Auxiliary gift shop and is now the volunteer lead for the NRGH Emergency Department’s Discharge With Dignity program.

Discharge With Dignity began in May 2016, when emergency staff started collecting gently used backpacks, filling them with items such as socks, hats and toiletries, and giving them to vulnerable patients who need them. When the Emergency team asked for help with the backpack project, word spread quickly. Island Health employees from NRGH and many other sites sent hundreds of donations. Soon after that, Hiebert took on the role of Volunteer Lead.

“When I interviewed Breyanna for a volunteer role I had a feeling that the Discharge With Dignity program would be the perfect fit,” said Jennifer Doyle, manager of volunteer resources for NRGH, Dufferin Place and the Nanaimo/Ladysmith Health Unit.

“She had a wonderful attitude, was excited about studying social work, and was truly interested in helping people using her skills and experience.  We were in the early stages of building the program, and she was instrumental in putting together the original backpacks to be distributed from the emergency department. She was proactive in looking for donations, and quickly meshed with emergency staff and management.”

Through the summer months, Hiebert spent three hours a week volunteering at the hospital auxiliary gift shop and four hours a week with Discharge With Dignity. She estimates she spent about two hours per shift filling backpacks to send out into the community.

“In the future, we want to spread Discharge With Dignity to other Island Health sites,” she says. “It definitely is needed in Nanaimo. I think it is really important, not to just give a person the donation but to show we care.”

Although Hiebert is based in Vancouver during the school year, she is continuing in her volunteer role. She is volunteering remotely from Vancouver and will come home to Nanaimo frequently. Her goal is to expand the Discharge With Dignity program by reaching out to community donors and organizing partnerships with Nanaimo-area schools.

She is quick to answer when asked what she likes best about her role. “For sure the best thing is knowing the impact on patients,” she said. “That, and making connections with other staff and volunteers, and getting the community involved.”

Anyone interested in volunteering at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, Dufferin Place or the Nanaimo/Ladysmith Health Unit please contact Doyle at

Just Posted

Fired senior manager’s human rights complaint against City of Nanaimo can proceed to hearing

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal will hear Brad McRae’s case against the city

Syrian family in Nanaimo rebuilding following house fire

Family displaced by fire on Strickland Street had been planning to move later this summer

Police ask for tips about suspects who allegedly stole from Nanaimo furniture store

RCMP release images from surveillance footage following theft from The Brick

V.I. Raiders build ‘team environment’ at main camp

Nanaimo-based junior football team held camp this past weekend in Parksville

B.C. Ferries crew member’s medical emergency causes cancellations

One sailing from Horseshoe Bay and one sailing from Departure Bay cancelled Monday

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Nanaimo tubber sets all-time record at bathtub race

Justin Lofstrom completes course in fastest-ever time

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Police ask for help locating missing men last seen in South Surrey

Jeep that Richard Scurr and Ryan Provencher were in has been located unoccupied in Logan Lake: RCMP

Islanders have new cancer screening option with $6.5 M diagnostic suite in Victoria

The Gordon Heys Family PET/CT Suite was unveiled at the BC Cancer Centre-Victoria

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted of murdering Vancouver Island couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

Most Read