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spring 2011 | vol 4 issue 1 | ulethbridge.ca

snapshot UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE FACULTY OF HEALTH SCIENCES

Healthy Futures for the First Public Health Graduates

Matt Mitschke

The year 2011 has been a memorable one for the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Lethbridge. The first group of students in the Public Health program is finishing off their requirements and preparing to receive their degrees at convocation ceremonies this spring and fall. The occasions will be quite monumental – final steps of sorts – that will bring the Public Health program’s two-and-half-year evolution full circle. “It’s been really exciting to participate in the program’s development,” says Sharon Yanicki, public health program coordinator, Faculty of Heath Sciences. “Public health has come a long way in a very short amount of time. It has definitely found its niche within the Faculty and within the fabric of the University as well.”

“There is great potential to have a positive influence on the health of entire populations working in this field.” Ryan Lammertsen When it was first introduced at the U of L in the fall of 2008, the Public Health program had just three students, but there has been a substantial influx since then. Around 20 new students were accepted into the program each successive fall (2009 and 2010). A total of 41 students are currently registered in the degree program, and as many as 10 may potentially graduate this year pending the successful completion of course requirements. “The increase in interest is great,” says Yanicki. “Students are gaining a broad

understanding of the interdisciplinary field of public health, and they are intrigued by its diversity. There is a really wide range of professional possibilities for people who hold a degree in public health.” The Public Health program is designed to prepare students for non-clinical work in areas of health promotion and protection, and disease and injury prevention. Students choose from one of three streams to focus their course of study: Applied Public Health, Health Policy and Promotion, and Administration and Leadership. Students may choose to either complete a practicum placement or write a thesis to finish their degree. The majority of students expected to graduate this year chose the practicum route and have ringing endorsements for gaining work experience prior to graduation. Matt Mitschke is one of the very first public health students to complete course requirements for the program and graduated this spring. Mitschke chose to focus on the area of Applied Public Health, and had two practicum placements through Alberta Health Services: the first in the area of aboriginal health promotion and the second with a healthy weights initiative for public schools. He also gained work experience through summer employment as a surveillance assistant with the Public Health Agency of Canada. Mitschke says that there is a huge difference between classroom learning and on-the-job training – something he’s glad he found out before entering the workforce. “I discovered a lot of things that you simply can’t learn in an academic setting,” says Mitschke of his practicum experiences. “There’s a certain ‘shock factor’ when you encounter public health issues in real life.

Dealing with actual situations is much different than reading about them in a textbook and discussing them in class. It was valuable to see the impact of public health first-hand, and also get a sense of how to work with others in a professional environment.” Since finishing classes, Mitschke has continued to work as a coordinator on the healthy weights initiative through Alberta Health Services, collaborating with principals and teachers in various school districts on the development of programs to facilitate healthy weights for school-aged children. Ryan Lammertsen (BSc ’08) began the practicum portion of his Public Health program in the spring of 2011, working at the Lethbridge Community Health site in the areas of disease outbreak control and injury prevention. Lammertsen came to Public Health rather by default, after an unsuccessful first application to medical school. He was surprised at how interesting and engaging he found the courses to be, the diversity of the field and the number of opportunities available to students after graduation. Now closing in on a second bachelor’s degree, Lammertsen says that medical school isn’t necessarily his only choice moving forward. “My interests have definitely shifted. I enrolled in Public Health to bolster my CV the next time I applied to medical school, but at this point I’d be happy to go in either direction,” Lammertsen says. “It’s the first time I can see beyond becoming a physician and look at other exciting career options.” The diversity of Public Health is one of the reasons Lammertsen finds it appealing. He credits the practicum aspect of the program with helping him to define what areas he might pursue professionally. continued next page >

Anushka Jayasekara

Ryan Lammertsen


A Year in Review

Dear friends of the Faculty of Health Sciences, It has been a very busy year in the Faculty of Health Sciences. As a new Faculty, we strive to play a vital role within the University’s Strategic Plan. We believe that our commitment to educating a new generation of health-care workers, our investment in new graduate programming, our support for the research of our new and established scholars and our insistence on superior instruction for our students support the wider institutional role as a comprehensive university. We are extremely proud of our students’ and academic staffs’ accomplishments; there is a lot to be proud of at present. Record numbers of students, academic honours for faculty members and high student satisfaction with our programming are part of our story this year. As well, we are particularly proud of the first three graduates of our Public Health program – Rochelle Marcelin, Matt Mitschke and Ryan Lammersten. All three have very bright futures ahead of them. Without a doubt the highlight of 2010 was our move into our new home in Markin Hall. Over the past few months we have had tremendous fun occupying our offices, commissioning our new instructional space

and planning the research labs. While we have experienced the odd hiccup, some funnier than others, the end result is a home of which we are very proud. Particularly exciting are the new teaching labs for addictions counselling and nursing. The former space includes a series of counselling rooms designed for individual, family and group counselling experiences, with state-of-the art video capturing equipment. The Health Simulation Centre has been very active with students dropping by for refresher courses and clinical groups working on highfidelity simulations. If you have not yet had an opportunity to visit Markin Hall, please drop by as we would love to show you around. This year we welcomed new colleagues Dr. Raphael Lencucha and Dr. Marcia Rich. Raphael joined our Public Health program from Ottawa, where he had been a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Ron Labonte. Marcia, a very well established therapist and counsellor in Lethbridge, has been a tremendous addition to our Addictions Counselling program. You can read more about Raphael and Marcia’s fascinating work in this issue Snapshot. Congratulations also to our former president, Dr. Bill Cade, recipient of many

awards in the final year of his term, though none to rival his award as our inaugural Friend of Health Sciences. Please join us at this year’s Awards Dinner, when a new recipient of the Award will be feted. On behalf of my colleagues I would also like to congratulate Cheryl Seaborn, winner of the 2010 Gold Medal for superior academic achievement. Finally, we reached out to almost 800 health sciences alumni through the U of L call centre again this spring. Thank you to our alumni who took the time to speak with our student callers. By updating your information and sharing your experiences, you demonstrate a connection that extends beyond graduation and confirms the strength of our community. We are also grateful to the many alumni who made a donation. Your gift sets a great example for our student callers and helps instil that same sense of pride in the next generation of alumni.

Lammertsen. “There is great potential to have a positive influence on the health of entire populations working in this field.” As word of the program gets around campus, enrolment in core courses is going up. Between 40 and 50 students are registered in PUBH 1000 (Introduction to Public Health) each semester, and many students from Faculties outside the Faculty of Health Sciences complete public health courses. Because the Public Health program works in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts & Science, it is structured to provide a broad, multidisciplinary view of health. “All public health students gain a greater appreciation of their roles as global citizens and the various ways they can promote health in their communities. That’s the great uniqueness

of our program,” says Yanicki. Anushka Jayasekara, a fourth-year public health student, says that the structure of the program is a big reason why she feels she’s found the right fit. “I feel very fortunate to be in the Public Health program,” Jayasekara says. “I have a degree in immunology, and I expected this university experience to be similar to my last, but I feel a sense of belonging here that I didn’t have before. It has to do with the small class sizes, but predominantly it’s because of the amazing professors. It’s such a supportive environment. The professors really want to see us succeed.” Students currently enrolled in the Public Health program have a broad range of future goals. A quick survey reveals interest

in graduate studies in the areas of public health law, public policy, global health and epidemiology. Practicum and thesis requirements are changing this fall – they will no longer be compulsory exit strategies for the bachelor’s degree. Instead, students will have the option to acquire all their credits via course-based study. “We want to give students the opportunity to choose the route that is best for them,” says Yanicki. “Students can get jobs right out of the degree without a practicum. Many students are interested in taking a variety of courses to supplement and expand their knowledge base for future study. As of fall 2011, the program will enable them to do that.”

Best wishes, Christopher P. Hosgood, PhD Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences University of Lethbridge

continued from cover >

“The choices are vast,” Lammertsen says of career options. “I really appreciated being able to try my hand in different areas to determine what really interests me.” Lammertsen’s practicum work includes a review on family violence, the inspection of health-care facilities during disease outbreaks, and writing three grant proposals: one for an Interfaith Food Bank community garden, one for an outdoor gym project and another for playground equipment at an elementary school. It’s the grassroots approach and broad implications of Public Health that appeal to Lammertsen the most. “Public Health looks at the basic drivers that influence health, things like socioeconomic status, job security, the physical environment and social support networks,” says


Program Updates Addictions Counselling Fall of 2010 saw the largest class of senior internship students since the inception of the Addictions Counselling program – 38 senior students were placed locally, nationally and internationally. Within Canada, students enjoyed training opportunities in addictions treatment centres, community-based counselling agencies and prevention programs serving both youth and adults. Sites were located in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and the Maritime provinces. Internationally, students were placed in a number of exciting locations, including

MSc Program the Goldbridge Rehabilitation Services on the gold coast of Australia and at GATS in Adelaide, Australia; Hina Mauka, an addictions residential treatment centre in Honolulu, Oahu, which focuses on services for Aboriginal clients and traditional healing modalities; and the Priory Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, which provided students with experiences in three major treatment areas: eating disorder, mental health and addictions from a medical context. South of the border, the Santé Treatment Centre located in Denton, Texas, offered one student a wide variety of practice experiences ranging from completing in-depth intake

Public Health

NESA BN Programs

It has been an exciting year for the Public Health program. The program began in the fall of 2008 with three students and has grown to 41 students. The first three graduates of the public health degree program were awarded a BHSc (Bachelor of Health Sciences in Public Health) degree during the Spring 2011 Convocation. Interest in the introductory public health course remains strong with class sizes of 40 to 50 students. Faculty members have a wide range of research interests including: health promotion, global health, global health governance, social determinants of health, health equity, social inclusion/exclusion, poverty, food security, tobacco reduction, gerontology and rural health. Program partnership with the Faculty of Arts and Science continues to provide students with diverse perspectives on public health issues. Students have gained valuable experience through applied studies courses coordinated through Arts & Science with public health faculty acting as advisors. Independent studies and several special topics courses (e.g., Health and Place, Applied Human Nutrition and Advanced Biostatistics) have allowed students to explore new areas of focus. With support from our new public health travel scholarships, one student undertook undergraduate thesis research in Malawi, and another student completed an out-of-region practicum placement focused on First Nations Health. We acknowledge the important contribution made by donors in supporting our student’s success. Over the last year, we have expanded our partnerships at the local, provincial and national levels. A number of students have successfully completed practicum placements with provincial and federal health organizations and municipal government. Students have expressed their appreciation for these exciting and wide-ranging learning opportunities. We would like to acknowledge the valuable contributions from the community professionals and the many organizations that have supported our students. We look forward to adding new special topic courses and developing international partnerships for practicum placements in the upcoming years.

The Nursing Education for Southwestern Alberta Bachelor of Nursing Programs (NESA BN Programs) is a collaborative venture involving the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College. The NESA BN Programs offer two baccalaureate nursing programs: the four-year, generic NESA Bachelor of Nursing Program and the NESA Bachelor of Nursing After an Approved Degree Program. Both programs are in high demand, and there are currently more than 600 students enrolled in these two programs. Within an ever-changing and uncertain health-care environment, faculty and students in the NESA BN Programs are making substantial contributions within our community and beyond. One of the most significant connections made between our students and the community is exemplified by student-led sessions with community members. During these sessions students share the learning experiences they have encountered in their professional seminar and/or community health courses. For example, students have shared their knowledge with members of the local police force, City Hall officials, and representatives of our partner health-care agencies and institutions. This kind of sharing has created an exceptional sense of community engagement, as evidenced by informal feedback provided by community members. Demonstrating our commitment for excellence in nursing education, in September 2010, the NESA BN Programs embarked on an Academic Quality Assurance (QA) Review process. Integral to this process is a collection of systematic evaluation processes to monitor and review performance, identify quality outcomes and recommend improvement of the academic units and programs at the University of Lethbridge. Key aspects of the QA review process include: a site visit that involves external expert reviewers, as well as faculty, staff and student involvement. Students, faculty, staff and our community partners have been invited to participate in this important initiative. The NESA BN Programs supports student activities in a variety of ways. One example is the sponsorship of student attendance at the Canadian Nursing Students’ Association (CNSA) annual meeting in Hamilton, Ontario, this past January. Both Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge provided financial support for several of our students to participate in this important student forum. We recognize and applaud our students for their interest in student governance matters, and are pleased that the University of Lethbridge student representation was the highest in the country.

For more information on all the health sciences programs, visit: www.ulethbridge.ca/healthsciences To stay up-to-date on what’s happening with the U of L and the Faculty of Health Sciences, visit: www.ulethbridge.ca/unews

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assessments to participating in various addiction treatment groups and individual intervention strategies. Overall, these national and international internships offer students an exciting way to finish off their bachelor’s degree program in addictions counselling as they learn new perspectives on working with addictions from different cultural and theoretical perspectives. Graduates report it is something that they cherish for the rest of their lives.

Support Services for Aboriginal Students in Health Sciences    In 2007, the Faculty of Health Sciences developed the Support Program for Aboriginal Nursing Students (SPANS) as part of Health Canada’s federally-funded Aboriginal Health Human Resources Initiative. SPANS resulted in a significant increase in Aboriginal students in the Bachelor of Nursing program. The program has grown from seven students to approximately 60 in four years, and of all the Aboriginal nursing students who started in SPANS, only one is no longer enrolled in a post-secondary program. The majority of Aboriginal students remain in a health-related program at the University. In February 2011, Deputy Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Ian Shugart met with the First Nations nursing students. It was an opportunity for the students to share their personal stories and post-secondary experiences with the Deputy Minister. In November 2010, U of L President Dr. Mike Mahon and Director of Government Relations Richard Westlund met with Mr. Shugart in Ottawa, where SPANS was discussed as a successful model that removed barriers for aboriginal learners. Mr. Shugart was invited to the campus to meet with some of our students and a wonderful engaging dialogue followed. SPANS also received national attention when Senator Grant Mitchell read a statement in the Canadian Senate on March 9, 2011, commending the students and staff of the Support Program for Aboriginal Nursing Students at the U of L. Building on the success of SPANS, these support services are now extended to all First Nations, Métis and Inuit students in the Bachelor of Health Sciences Addictions Counselling and Public Health degree programs and thus the creation of “Support Services for Aboriginal Students in Health Sciences.”  The goal is not only to support students in their post-secondary education so they can return to work in their home communities but also to improve cultural sensitivity within the Faculty. Currently, there are 55 self-declared First Nations, Métis and Inuit students enrolled in the addictions counselling, nursing and public health programs. Over the past year, many of our students have enjoyed the success of receiving scholarships from the University of Lethbridge, Canadian Nurses Foundation, National Aboriginal Health Organization, and Treaty 7 Health Careers to name a few.

The Masters of Science in Health Sciences (Nursing, Addictions, Health Sciences) continues to be a popular and successful program. We currently have approximately 30 students from a wide variety of backgrounds, doing research in a number of interesting applied health areas. Several of our students have received prestigious awards and/or scholarships, and a few are planning on presenting the results of their master’s research at various conferences. We are very excited to be offering in conjunction with the Faculty of Education a Master of Counselling Psychology cohort specializing in Addictions and Mental Health Counselling starting in July 2012. This three-year part-time master’s program will be an exciting opportunity for people with addictions and mental health degrees or backgrounds to pursue their masters and will give the graduate courses needed for chartering as a psychologist. Deadline for applications is November 1, 2011. The Faculty of Health Sciences is also exploring a PhD in health-related demographics in partnership with the Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy. Overall, this is a very exciting time for the graduate program in Health Sciences at the University of Lethbridge.

Congratulations A number of our First Nations students in Health Sciences have received scholarships and bursaries over the past several months. Marcia White Quills received scholarships from the Canadian Nurses Foundation, National Aboriginal Health Organization, Jason Lang Memorial Scholarship, and the Treaty 7 Health Careers Bursary. Candace Croweagle, Geraldine First Rider, Corrine Scout, Maxine Willows, Tim Wells, Karly Frank, Elissa Heavy Runner, Lana Healy, Renate Goodstriker, Rolanda First Rider, Darcie Doore, Shayna Fox, Maegan Weasel Fat, Holly Tallman and Tess Knife also received the Treaty 7 Health Careers Bursary. Maggie Fox, a fourth-year nursing student, received an award from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation. Congratulations to all!

Congratulations also go to public health student, Christine Knaus, who was a nominee in Volunteer Lethbridge’s 2011 Leaders of Tomorrow.

The 2010/2011 Snapshot is produced by the Faculty of Health Sciences in conjunction with the Office of Communications at the University of Lethbridge. Design: Sarah Novak Design Feature Writers: Caitlin Crawshaw Natasha Evdokimoff Erika Jahn Trevor Kenney Kali McKay Sarah Sutton Photography: Rob Olson Photography Jaime Vedres Photography Correspondence should be addressed to: Faculty of Health Sciences University of Lethbridge 4401 University Drive W Lethbridge, AB T1K 3M4 Tel: 403-329-2699 | Fax: 403-329-2668 E-mail: health.sciences@uleth.ca www.ulethbridge.ca/hlsc


Student Success

“When I found the Health Sciences graduate program at the U of L, I knew this was the way for me to move forward.” Ruksana Rashid

Finding a New Road Like all immigrants, Ruksana Rashid, a master’s student in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Lethbridge, had high hopes for her family and career when she came to Canada from Bangladesh in 2007. As a licensed medical doctor who had served in the Bangladesh military for 12 years (she achieved the rank of major and worked in military hospitals serving soldiers and their families), Rashid felt confident that her training, skills and experience would be valuable assets to the Canadian medical community. She’d heard that Canada was recruiting doctors from around the world, and after looking into the policies for practising medicine here, she and her husband (who is also a military officer) packed their family up to move halfway around the world and begin a new life in a foreign country. What Rashid encountered when she got here was quite the opposite of what she expected. To her dismay, Rashid found that entering the medical community as a foreign doctor wasn’t going to be easy. She fully expected to be subject to a rigorous screening process, but had no idea that in order to gain a license to practise medicine in Canada she’d have to repeat her residency. Rashid also discovered that there were several hoops to jump through before a repeat residency was even possible – a series of two intensive exams, application to hospitals across the country and a placement competition with new Canadian medical school graduates among them. It would take Rashid a minimum of six years to become a licensed doctor in Canada. As a new immigrant with a family to support and bills to pay, the goal was practically and financially unattainable. Rashid set about doing what many immigrants do when they find they are unable to work in their professions in a new country and accepted a series of unfulfilling jobs. Working at big-box retail chains and as a telemarketer left Rashid frustrated and

stressed, but even so, she wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. “I kept looking for ways to go back to my training and my profession,” says Rashid. “When I found the Health Sciences graduate program at the U of L, I knew this was the way for me to move forward. The program may not allow me to practise medicine as a doctor, but it will lead to a professional job in an area that I am interested in. I’m happy with that.” Rashid enrolled as a graduate student in 2009, and knew immediately where she would focus her research – on the resiliency of immigrant women. “My own experiences as an immigrant made me very interested in how other women manage to find their way,” says Rashid. “My research focuses on the experiences immigrant women have in Canada, but more specifically, it aims to discover how immigrant women are able to overcome the many challenges they face to become successful.” Knowing first-hand how difficult it can be to integrate into a new culture helped Rashid to design a qualitative research plan that gets to the heart of what it takes to prevail as an immigrant woman in Canada. Rashid’s method of data collection is person-centred interviewing. She will conduct three one-onone interviews with six immigrant women, delving into their histories and following the course of their lives to the point of immigration and beyond. Rashid will examine the level of support women receive from their spouses, their family dynamics, parenting styles and any cultural factors that may impact their approach. Although she has just begun the first round of interviews, Rashid already sees commonalities between her subjects. “Language is a huge problem, and the weather poses a lot unforeseen challenges,” says Rashid. “Feelings of disconnection and misdirection are also very common. Most immigrants have very few friends or no friends

at all. The difficulties are quite universal. It’s how these women find the strength and ability to overcome the challenges that I am most interested in discovering.” Rashid’s subjects are educated – each holds at least a bachelor’s degree, one has several master’s degrees, and another is currently working on a post doctorate. All are married, have children, have been living in Canada for one to five years and interestingly, all have a backup plan should their attempts to build a life in Canada not pan out. Rashid herself had a backup plan to return to Bangladesh and was prepared to use it before finding her way into the Health Sciences program. “No one wants to spend their life struggling, or working at a job that doesn’t employ their education and training,” says Rashid. “What’s interesting is why some immigrant women are able to make the leap from menial jobs into professional careers while others are not.” Rashid’s work has already garnered a significant amount of attention academically. In the summer of 2010, Rashid received a $10,000 Alberta Award for the Study of Canadian Human Rights and Multiculturalism, which she plans to use to fund her program and conduct research. Rashid was also selected this March for the National Recruitment Drive at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine. She was one of 30 applicants chosen out of hundreds across the country to take part in an all expenses paid two-day campus visit to explore PhD possibilities in her chosen field. Ultimately, Rashid plans to be a doctor again, but this time she’ll be a doctor of Health Sciences – teaching at a university instead of doing rounds at a hospital. “It’s all very encouraging,” says Rashid. “For someone that felt she didn’t have many options not so long ago, things are going very well.”


Student Athletes Achieve Success in Sports and Studies “When you play on a sports team, you learn how to communicate and work under pressure. As a nurse, you regularly work as a team and those same skills apply.” Brittany Orr

Health Sciences Horns (L-R): Sarah Calnan (Track and Field), Kayla Hopkins (Hockey), Amy Schweitzer (Soccer), Brittany Orr (Rugby)

Navigating a schedule of courses, clinical, practices and games is not an easy task, but four female athletes in the Faculty of Health Sciences are meeting the challenge and discovering success with the support of their teammates, peers and university. Brittany Orr, a fourth-year nursing student and a full-back on the University of Lethbridge’s rugby team, thrives in a team environment, whether it’s in the emergency room or on the rugby field. “There’s definitely a connection between sports and nursing,” says Orr. “When you play on a sports team, you learn how to communicate and work under pressure. As a nurse, you regularly work as a team and those same skills apply.” Like Orr, Sarah Calnan (BSc ’09) also sees a link between sports and nursing. As a weight thrower and second-year nursing student in the Bachelor of Nursing After Degree (BNAD) program, Calnan is inspired by her peers in the nursing program as well as by her teammates on the University’s track and field team, including Olympian and U of L alumnus Jim Steacy (BSc ’09). She remembers when Steacy sat her down in her first year and played videos of a Cuban female weight thrower, saying, “Look at her size. She’s little just like you, but look how far she throws.” “Weight throwing is an individual sport, and as a nurse, you are often working on your own, but the more support and resources you have around you, the better athlete, student or nurse you become,” says Calnan.

Classmate Kayla Hopkins, a second-year public health major and a centre on the U of L’s hockey team, is looking forward to her future in public health. “I hope that by educating people about healthy living, there will be a healthier population and less strain on the health-care system,” she says. One of her greatest challenges as a student athlete is being physically tired after long hours of workout and practice. For Amy Schweitzer, a left outside defender on the University’s soccer team and fourth-year nursing student, the biggest challenge is keeping track of everything. The key, she says, in nursing and in soccer is organization and time management skills. “The more organized you can be, the better player or nurse you are,” she says. As is often the case for student athletes, exam dates and game times don’t always see eye to eye, and that’s where a supportive Faculty comes into play. “I’m not magical. I can’t fly back for an exam when I’m halfway across the country,” says Hopkins. “However, I’ve been so lucky with the Faculty of Health Sciences – everyone has been so accommodating.” Her classmates agree, singing the praises of health sciences professors who are team players. “The faculty are very supportive of student athletes,” says Orr. “They are flexible about timelines and recognize our sports achievements. Calnan echoes these accolades and says some professors sponsor student athletes: “Their support helps us succeed in the classroom and in our sport.”

they went into nursing in the first place – to do real things with real people.” Foot care is a real concern for homeless and marginalized populations. They generally have little access to health services, are constantly on

into four groups (health promotion, injury prevention, illness prevention and health maintenance) of focus. Vicki Hughes, a kinesiology graduate, worked with the health promotion group. Their focus was to help seniors better utilize the exercise room, educate about fall prevention strategies and help implement a program designed around the new vibration wave machine that promotes better balance, strength and circulation. “The main thing for me with this experience is that it has really prepared me for nursing in terms of improving my communication skills,” says Hughes. “We came in here to assess their needs, and working with them and empowering them has been wonderful.” The BNAD program doesn’t just teach nursing, it promotes the basic tenets of care and contributing to the betterment of a community. “When we are given these kinds of opportunities to come and work with these people, we’re basically practising that community element of nursing,” says Gatner. “When you work with the nursing program inside the community rotation, it gets you out the front door and into the world, helping people. That’s always what I’ve wanted to do.”

Community Care They are former airline pilots, Olympic athletes, police recruits and liquor store managers. They’ve earned degrees ranging from kinesiology to biology, psychology and more, and yet they all have one thing in common – they’re back at university to become nurses. The University of Lethbridge’s Bachelor of Nursing After Degree (BNAD) program attracts a diverse array of students, but the goal they share is the same – to contribute to the community by caring for its people. “When the U of L introduced the BNAD program, it was perfect for me because I looked at it as an opportunity to invest two years and then get back to helping people,” says 31-yearold Justin Gatner, a psychology grad who was managing a liquor store before he came back to the U of L. The Monarch, Alta., native was on a path to become a police officer, having also earned his criminal justice diploma from Lethbridge College, before a broken leg dashed his hopes of passing the physical requirements for the job. “I reassessed my world and started looking around at other careers where I could still help people,” says Gatner. “Some of the options included were fire fighting and working as an EMT, but nursing was also a part of that.” The BNAD program has many similar stories of graduates who have acquired experience by being out in the workforce, and then turned their focus to nursing. One of the faculty members helping them achieve their goal is Em Pijl-Zieber, who, like her students, found community nursing after having taken a different path.

A registered nurse who previously worked in advanced practice, Pijl-Zieber never saw herself working in a community-nursing role, and as for teaching, she jokingly calls herself the “accidental professor”. “I never wanted to teach and yet I’ve found that it’s really a lot of fun,” says Pijl-Zieber, a Vancouver native who followed her husband and fellow faculty member, Mark, to Alberta. “To inspire students to greatness is always my hope. I want them to get passionate about something.” With Pijl-Zieber, students are able to take knowledge learned in the classroom into community settings. They now provide a unique level of care to homeless and marginalized populations, as well as seniors in assisted living residences. One of the initiatives in which they are involved is a foot-care program that Pijl-Zieber began three years ago. The program initially had her students involved with homeless persons utilizing Streets Alive, and has grown to where her students now participate in Project Homeless Connect, are active in visiting long-term care facilities in both Lethbridge and Coaldale, and will set up outpatient clinics for drop-in foot-care services. “The work that students do during this course is often not bedside nursing, as much as it is program planning and population health promotion,” says Pijl-Zieber. “By doing the footcare clinics, students can have that interaction with members of the population. They like it because they can practice one-to-one care, something that’s hands-on and practical. It’s why

“To inspire students to greatness is always my hope. I want them to get passionate about something.” Em Pijl-Zieber their feet with inadequate footwear and may suffer from aggravating health concerns such as diabetes. Frostbite, ingrown toenails and other problems, if left untreated, can lead to amputations. “Who else is going to look after their feet? Our goal is to be able to do a proper assessment and then to provide foot care so that hopefully they can keep their limbs attached,” she says. This past year, the foot-care program took her group into Martha’s House seniors’ residence. “I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with what they’ve brought to us,” says registered nurse Elda Barva, Martha’s House administrator and the previous director of care at St. Michael’s Hospital. “They are very motivated, they have some life experience behind them and they’ve come in here and taken this place by storm.” More than simply providing foot-care clinics, the students created an entire healthcare program for the facility, breaking off


Research Review

The Gamble of Gambling “The relevant question today is not whether gambling is good or bad, but rather, what can be done to better maximize the benefits of gambling and minimize the harms.” Dr. Robert Williams The issue of gambling in our society has historically been a morally fraught debate, with much concern over the social costs of legalized gambling. However, health sciences professor Dr. Robert Williams’s research with the Alberta Gaming Institute shows that the impacts of gambling are far more complex and diverse. Williams, a gambling specialist at the University of Lethbridge, has been involved in two recent studies – a detailed investigation of the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Alberta (SEIGA) and a similar worldwide research project that has endeavoured to identify cross-jurisdictional impacts. “In most jurisdictions, and in most cases, the impacts of gambling are a mixed bag,” says Williams. “There is a range of largely positive economic impacts that are off-set by a range of negative social impacts. This mixed-bag theory, however, is not often reflected in public perception, where the majority of people are either pro- or anti-gambling, and fail to see it as a more nuanced issue.” Dr. Williams’s research shows there is no clear answer as to whether gambling is good or bad, and that these are not effective categories of evaluation. Instead, the impacts of gambling are specific to the jurisdiction and format – the where and the how – meaning that lotteries have different impacts than slot machines, and that

Seeking to Understand When it comes to the end our lives, we all hope and expect that our wishes and beliefs will be carried out by those entrusted with our care. For health-care professionals, it is increasingly important to understand the personal and religious beliefs of minority groups whose ideas about death, rituals and afterlife might differ considerably from mainstream values. Dr. Judith Kulig, a nursing professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Lethbridge, is on a quest to ensure that one Canadian group’s health issues and beliefs are better understood in the health and social services sectors. Low-German Speaking (LGS) Mennonites, of which there are approximately 80,000 in Canada, come from a conservative religious sect of Christianity and live in relative isolation from mainstream Canadian society. Having emigrated from Eastern Europe to Canada during earlier waves of migration, many left for Mexico and South America in the early decades of the 20th century to pursue greater religious freedom and autonomy, but have since returned to Canada, with many settling in southern Alberta. Kulig believes this group deserves particular attention because the health services community knows little about their beliefs and expectations regarding the end of life, and because a large portion of the aging population will require care in the coming years. Her current research examines the religious beliefs and practices of LGS Mennonites related to

death and dying in order to recommend better care policies and practices for them. The group’s tendency towards isolation – both physical and cultural – and desire for privacy pose particular challenges to her research. “In southern Alberta,” Kulig explains, “LGS Mennonites often live isolated on farms and feedlots and have limited interaction with the larger world in part because their religious doctrine does not allow them to be connected to the larger world.”

Dr. Judith Kulig is on a quest to ensure that one Canadian group’s health issues and beliefs are better understood in the health and social services sectors. Having already studied health and illness beliefs and issues of women’s sexuality in this group, Kulig believes it is both interesting and essential to study their notions of death and dying in order to provide health and social workers with appropriate and evidence-based research to better serve them. “I love learning about things that I can translate into practice guidelines for clinicians and others,” she says. Kulig’s research represents a trend towards greater evidenced-based care, where services are more appropriate to and reflective of the needs and beliefs of the community rather than a one-size fits all approach.

the impacts can differ significantly from one region to the next. This means that the impact of gambling is not universal, nor can a single evaluation of gambling be applied universally. “The relevant question today,” says Williams, “is not whether gambling is good or bad, but rather, what can be done to better maximize the benefits of gambling and minimize the harms.” In Canada, significant improvements can be made in providing gambling in a safer fashion. Several European countries have much lower rates of problem gambling while still maintaining an economically healthy gambling industry. When it comes to the social and human impacts, Williams reminds us that they are not only and always negative. There are significant examples of positive social impacts of gambling. While problem gambling is significantly higher in First Nations populations, he suggests the economically successful reserve casinos have widespread economic and social benefits to many First Nations people. Gambling also offers significant benefits to charitable and community organizations, and for seniors who use gambling milieus for socialization activities. These comprehensive reports will hopefully put many of the questions regarding the impacts of gambling to rest. Williams now plans to move on to research related to Internet gambling.


The Faculty of Health Sciences Proudly Welcomes… Dr. Marcia Rich Clinical experience informs new professor’s teaching and research With a counselling career that spans almost three-decades, one of the University of Lethbridge’s newest professors, Dr. Marcia Rich, brings a wealth of knowledge to her new position in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Lethbridge. “For me, it’s wonderful to have that experience and bring it into the classroom,” says Rich. “I’m able to give examples from practice.” In addition to counselling clients through private practice, Rich has worked within employee assistance programs, non-profit agencies and health organizations. She’s helped people with all manner of mental health challenges: from addictions and eating disorders, to trauma and abuse. For the experienced psychologist, her new role at the University of Lethbridge is a perfect match for her professional interests and fondness for Lethbridge. “To secure a tenure-track position in the community in which I’m living is a gift, especially to be working in counsellor training, addictions and mental health. I’m passionate about all three,” she says. Rich is also passionate about helping new counsellors find their feet and has mentored many others throughout her career. As an assistant professor, Rich will be working with fourth-year addictions counselling students to help them find internships at treatment programs to cement their university education. The development of new counsellors is also a key research interest for Rich, and she’s already

begun to study how the supervisory process impacts students. “There are many models of supervision that come into play. I want to see if there are significant differences between paradigms and how that impacts the supervisorstudent relationship,” she says.

“I can speak from lived experience – not just abstract concepts.” Dr. Marcia Rich Other facets of Rich’s research program explore the relationship between trauma and addiction, and spirituality and recovery. “The 12-step program is based on a spiritual path, but the literature shows that some people struggle with how the ‘higher power’ is conceptualized,” she says. “In the literature, there’s a call-toaction for clinicians and clients to expand their understanding of spirituality.” Related to this is Rich’s interest in altered states of consciousness to facilitate healing, including shamanic methods. With such an ambitious research program and courses to teach, it would seem that Rich has her work cut out for her. But while she plans to take a year off from her private practice to get settled as a new professor, she plans to return to private practice part time. “I think that’s important to do because it keeps me relevant, as a trainer and instructor,” she says. “I can speak from lived experience – not just abstract concepts.”

Dr. Raphael Lencucha Snuffing out smoking fires up global health researcher Each year, tobacco companies manufacture a half-trillion cigarettes – nearly 1,000 for every man, woman and child on Earth, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Every day, 15 billion of these cigarettes are smoked.

“It was incredible to be on the floor and see all of these diverse countries and people consulting and working together towards a common goal.” Dr. Raphael Lencucha These statistics might be surprising since tobacco use in Canada is being slowly snuffed out by ad campaigns, graphic warning labels on cigarette packages and smoking bans. Nonetheless, global consumption has been rising steadily since cigarettes were first introduced at the start of the 20th century and, as far as the WHO is concerned, tobacco use is now a global epidemic. That’s why the organization is rallying to fight the killer of 5 million people annually. In 2003, the WHO began an initiative to bolster smoking cessation around the world: The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. “It’s the first time the WHO has brought all the countries together to build global health law around a product,” says Dr. Raphael Lencucha, a recent addition to the Faculty of Health Sciences

at the University of Lethbridge. He’s fascinated by this new development and is researching different aspects of the treaty process. Last semester, Lencucha travelled to Uruguay to attend the most recent WHO Conference of the Parties, in which 181 countries and approximately 300 non-government organization representatives gathered to negotiate the terms of the treaty. “It was incredible to be on the floor and see all of these diverse countries and people consulting and working together towards a common goal,” he says. Lencucha, an Alberta native born in Edmonton, received offers from universities and the World Health Organization before choosing the U of L. “I was intrigued by the undergraduate public health program here – it was really the first one I’d heard of in Canada,” he says. “It was a unique opportunity to be involved with the development of this program.” Although he initially completed degrees in kinesiology and occupational health, Lencucha has always had a passion for global issues. “We live in an age that’s pretty remarkable,” he says. “Regardless of the negatives of globalization, we are becoming more connected.” Public health is an area of study that engages his students too and produces research with real-world applications, says Lencucha. “You can’t always see your research being used, but I’m starting to realize that in researching and writing about the process of this treaty, it might provide understanding for people working on future global health treaties.”


Markin Hall Provides Practical Experiences for Health Sciences Students

Peter Kellett

(top) Students receive hands-on training with the infant and birthing patient simulators in the Simulation Health Centre. (bottom) Student practise counselling techniques in the Addictions Counselling Group Lab.

The Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Lethbridge is helping to meet the complex challenges of today’s health-care systems through innovative programming, research and, most recently, improved facilities. Building on and improving existing resources, the Simulation Health Centre and the Addictions Counselling Lab in Markin Hall position the U of L as a leader in educating a new generation of health-care professionals. Located on the second floor of Markin Hall, the Simulation Health Centre provides students with the opportunity to practice nursing skills and critical decision-making in a safe and interactive way. More than doubling the size of the previous lab facilities, the centre includes large lab spaces designed to mimic acute care hospital settings, patient assessment rooms and debriefing rooms. In addition, the centre includes adult, infant and birthing patient simulators, providing a level of realism never before experienced at the U of L. Operated from a separate control room that looks into the lab, instructors can program the simulators to reflect various patient care scenarios. Each simulated patient has breath, bowel function, heart sounds, palpable pulses and urinary output approximating human responses. The simulators allow students to take blood pressure, start IVs, and will respond to the administration of certain medications and may even die if proper care is not administered. “During the course of their program, students will participate in various levels of simulation experiences at Lethbridge College and at the University of Lethbridge,” says U of L nursing instructor Peter Kellett. “This facility greatly increases the opportunities for our nursing students to practise the skills that they will utilize in clinical practice as nurses, so it will contribute to student confidence and practice readiness.”

Similarly, the new Addictions Counselling Lab provides hands-on experience to students in the Addictions Counselling program. “Students have consistently told us that the intense counselling lab work they do is the highlight of the program for them and we are exceedingly grateful for our expanded lab facilities,” says Dr. Gary Nixon, addictions counselling program director and coordinator. As part of the program, students learn individual, group and family counselling skills in weekly small group labs. The new lab facility provides 12 individual, one group, and one family room all equipped with the latest in digital recording technology. All rooms are equipped with video cameras that record the student’s counselling session and are linked to a digital monitoring system that allows lab facilitators to supervise the student’s counselling performance and skill demonstration in each room. Recorded sessions can also be easily downloaded and viewed by students to further their counselling skill training and development. When they graduate, students are well equipped with the practical counselling skills to make a difference in their work with clients on addictions, mental health and other related issues. The Simulation Health Centre and the Addictions Counselling Lab offer increased opportunities for students and serve as showcase facilities for the Faculty of Health Sciences and the University. For more information about the Simulation Health Centre and the Addictions Counselling Lab, and how you can support them, please contact University Advancement at 403-329-2582 or e-mail advancement@uleth.ca.

“This facility greatly increases the opportunities for our nursing students to practice the skills that they will utilize in clinical practice as nurses, so it will contribute to student confidence and practice readiness.” Peter Kellett, nursing instructor

Dr. Gary Nixon

“Students have consistently told us that the intense counselling lab work they do is the highlight of the program for them and we are exceedingly grateful for our expanded lab facilities.” Dr. Gary Nixon, addictions counselling program director and coordinator

Profile for Health Sciences

Snaphot 2011  

The yearly publication from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Lethbridge.

Snaphot 2011  

The yearly publication from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Lethbridge.

Profile for snapshot
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