Former nurse shifts smoothly into trucking

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Trucking and nursing have some things in common, according to a truck driver and former nurse. Both professions require a person to be very observant, anticipate moves, be good with documentation, and interested in public safety.

Leah Gorham was a nurse for 16 years before quitting patient care to drive on open roads. Why the change in careers? “I was assaulted on the job,” she said.

Truck driver Leah Gorham worked as a nurse for 16 years. (Photo: Supplied)

Gorham worked as a nurse at Saint John Regional Hospital in Saint John, NB, since 2006, in different units including neurosurgery and general surgery.

“I really loved my job a lot. I also saw a lot of problems, including staff shortages that perpetuated unsafe working conditions.”

Gorham said she applied several times for admission into the Bachelor of Nursing degree program but was not successful. The assault at work was the final straw and Gorham decided she was done with nursing.

Her boyfriend Roland Bereczki, a longhaul trucker, encouraged her to get an A/Z licence. Gorham signed up for and attended a 12-week course at Trans-Canada College in Riverview, NB.

Bereczki received training instruction and Gorham went out with him for four weeks, as part of her training program.

“I started working for money in January,” she said with a laugh.

She now drives with Bereczki, hauling loads for GTL Transportation from Darthmouth, NS.

“Now I just change the gears by feel and double clutch.”

Leah Gorham, truck driver

Gorham usually drives in the daytime for about 8 to 10 hours, and then her boyfriend takes over. “I find it harder to drive at night but am getting used to it. I’m still pretty new,” she said. Sometimes they park for the night after Bereczki has driven for a while, depending on the situation.

The former nurse enjoys the space while trucking, and it is a lot less stressful for her. Gorham had not been to the U.S. in 20 years and is now spending more time there than in Canada since she began driving a big rig.

She also gets to be with her boyfriend a lot more. As a longhaul driver, he used to be gone for seven to 10 days at a time. “Now, him and I are together on the road, and it has worked out very well.”

Gorham said learning to drive a 13-speed was a fun challenge and she learned quickly. “Now I just change the gears by feel and double clutch.”

She said driving a truck gives her a sense of responsibility on the road and feels she has to be brave. The biggest learning curve was to figure out and understand what was under the hood. She also had to learn about mechanical parts and gauges.

(Photo: Supplied)

Gorham and her boyfriend head out for about 15 days at a time and there is still a lot to learn. Positioning on the map, route planning, being aware of different time zones, traffic laws in various jurisdictions and even converting Fahrenheit and miles to Celsius and kilometers – to name a few.

She said it is a good time in her life to be a trucker because her children – ages 21 and 18 – are independent.

For women who are looking at trucking as a career, Gorham said, “Jump in!”

Rookie tips

She said drivers learn to adjust and wherever you are is home. And the rookie driver already has a few tips. Get used to eating on the road, but don’t eat fast food – cook, or carry your meals. Make sure you communicate with your family at home, and that helps you stay close to them.

Gorham said she is not an aggressive driver. “My boyfriend says I am very Canadian, a little too nice on the road.”

The former nurse is very happy with her decision to change careers and drive “this big machine.” For now, she wants to keep improving and enjoying trucking, which she calls a phenomenal experience.

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Leo Barros is the associate editor of Today’s Trucking. He has been a journalist for more than two decades, holds a CDL and has worked as a longhaul truck driver. Reach him at

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  • I was a Registered Respiratory Therapist for 25+ years and left due to burnout. Learned to drive a semi and stayed OTR for 6 years driving solo. Loved it, met some awesome people that have become lifelong friends. The last 2 years I became a Local Driver for a tanker company hauling spring water to Publix Distribution. Went back to healthcare just after Covid hit. I am astonished at the number of male drivers out there that will help when needed. Even though we are basically a female in a “man’s world “ most have been helpful and accepting. I really hated to leave the last company I was with as they treated the drivers well, but the pay was to great in healthcare to turn down. It allowed me to buy a new house and spend time at home with family which I missed as a solo driver. I am tremendously grateful for my time as a driver, it allowed me to see parts of our beautiful country that I may never have gotten a chance to see and meet a humbling group of people that go that extra mile on a daily basis and are not appreciated enough for the job they do. Good luck with your future endeavor and may you go far in life.