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Bring Better Health Care When you support the Faculty of Nursing, you support the education of student scholars and the health of entire communities.

Best Health Investment Providing better patient care is what inspires nurses like Rebecca Ellis to do more. Three years ago, she was working as a registered nurse in frontline cardiac care. “ I wanted to do more for my patients, and to me that meant becoming more involved in managing their care,” says Ellis, ’07 BScN, ’15 MN. So she enrolled in a UAlberta master of nursing degree, working toward a licence as a nurse practitioner. Ellis is recounting that decision from a sunny atrium in Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute. A newly convocated MN and nurse practitioner, her duties as part of an interdisciplinary team include managing the care among gastro-intestinal cancer patients. She shakes her head at some of the assumptions she held at the outset of her advanced degree.

“I thought it would be easy to work through my master’s, but it was hard to focus on big academic projects, then turn it off and go be a nurse for 12 hours,” she says. So she cut down her work hours. Fortunately, she found some help from scholarships such as the Elaine Antoniuk Graduate Nursing Scholarship. This and other awards and bursaries kept her research going and opened new opportunities, such as travel to conferences and seminars. Philanthropy also meant Ellis could give back while still in school, becoming a peer mentor to other students in her program and serving on several voluntary boards. “If I could tell donors anything, it would be that philanthropy is so important to students,” Ellis says. “It’s also vote of confidence.”

Your gift ensures today’s best training for tomorrow’s best health Donate online at

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Message from the Dean uAlberta | nursing

Mother’s milk: Reducing child mortality after natural disasters Scholar aims to empower breastfeeding women in disaster relief camps

Published by Faculty of Nursing Level 3, Edmonton Clinic Health Academy 11405 87 Avenue University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta T6G 1C9

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Let’s talk about sex


Inspired by her mother and daughter, Colleen Norris’ latest research examines how gender roles, social support, and housework can impact health.

Editor: Yolanda Poffenroth

Nursing professor among newest members of Order of Canada Researcher Carole Estabrooks adds one of Canada’s highest honours to her list of accolades


Dedication, gumption, and perseverance Celebrating 25 years of Canada’s first funded PhD in nursing program


Leadership, curiosity, distinguish award-winning professor Olive Yonge honoured for commitment to students, research and community.


Alumni Weekend

Designer: Watts Communication Printing: McCallum Printing Photographs: Yolanda Poffenroth, Richard Siemens, Ryan Whitefield, Fiona Wilson PUBLICATION MAIL AGREEMENT NUMBER 40065232 RETURN UNDELIVERABLE CANADIAN ADDRESSES TO: LEVEL 3 EDMONTON CLINIC HEALTH ACADEMY 11405 87 AVENUE UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA, EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA T6G 1C9

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On the cover: Dr. Colleen Norris (pictured with her daughter Emeleigh) researches social support and its impact on health

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Dear friends, It is through our work with our students, patients, and supportive communities that we are able to contribute to the vision of attaining the highest quality of life for all. You will see a number of examples of how this happens in the pages of this magazine. I am incredibly proud of my colleagues’ many successes. We had a fantastic time during reunion weekend in September! The weekend was jam-packed with events as we hosted our sold-out annual nursing alumni lunch and celebrated 25 years of doctoral education with three separate events. I truly enjoyed meeting so many of you, especially those who travelled from near and far to attend your class reunions and our Faculty of Nursing events. Not only did we have the opportunity to connect with many friends and colleagues during this time, it was also very special to have Dr. Afaf Meleis, dean emerita from the University of Pennsylvania, speak at our public lecture on transitions and the future. Dr. Meleis visited with us when we made history by launching Canada’s first funded PhD in nursing program, and it was most fitting to have her join us for the celebration. Fall convocation on November 16 was a brilliant day with 136 BScN, 22 MN and 5 PhD degrees awarded to our students. As one of our now 18,800+ living alumni, we welcome you! It is not too early to start thinking about our 100 year anniversary celebration, which begins in 2018. It will be a year full of events and surprises. We will be establishing a planning committee in the New Year and invite you to send us your suggestions. As the year draws to an end, I too am starting to think about transitions. I am completing my term as Dean and we are currently searching for my successor, who I look forward to introducing to you in the next issue. We are planning to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.

Warm regards,



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MOTHER’S MILK: Reducing child mortality after natural disasters

Scholar aims to empower breastfeeding women in disaster relief camps WORDS: YOLANDA POFFENROTH


uAlberta | nursing


Ready to fly out the moment a disaster strikes, the Faculty of Nursing graduate student is set to carry out her research in an incredibly demanding—and possibly dangerous—setting. Hirani is eager to jump into her research, which focuses on barriers related to breastfeeding practices among displaced mothers living in disaster relief camps. Less than a year after arriving in Edmonton from her native Pakistan, Hirani has turned her goal of reducing the number of child deaths and illnesses in disaster relief camps into a $150,000 Vanier scholarship, as well as an Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship. Growing up in a disaster-prone country, Hirani is no stranger to being displaced and forced to live in a relief camp. In fact, it was her first-hand experience as a health-care professional that shaped her chosen career and research path. In the aftermath of a natural disaster, relief camps are one of the most vulnerable settings for mothers with young children. In a setting with little privacy, an absence of nurses or other people who can help them with breastfeeding, and free distribution of formula, women are much more likely to discontinue breastfeeding. “Infant and child deaths are high in Pakistan, and disasters and discontinuation of breastfeeding can result in increased death rates,” says Hirani, who is an internationally board certified lactation consultant with more than a decade of experience in maternal and child health. “Supporting and protecting breastfeeding practices of women is an essential intervention to reduce the number of child deaths and illnesses during emergency response.” 7|

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Women often feel uncomfortable talking about breastfeeding, but it’s a vital aspect of parenting and an essential source of nutrition for infants, explains Hirani. “Breastfeeding is crucial for both physical growth and brain development. Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition and also contains antibodies that help young children fight off viruses and bacteria. It also can lower the risk of asthma, allergies, ear infections, respiratory illnesses and bouts of diarrhea.” When breastfeeding women are displaced from their homes to a disaster relief camp, many turn to using formula donated by well-meaning individuals and companies—a change that can be harmful to children in this situation. “To use formula, the powder has to be mixed with water and put into a bottle,” says Hirani. “In disaster relief camps we don’t have handwashing facilities. We may not have time before and after the feeding to sterilize the bottles. We may not have access to a secure source of water.” Without access to safe water and the ability to sterilize bottles, children in these disaster relief camps often develop dysentery, a contributing factor to the increased rates of child mortality seen during disaster relief.

HIT THE GROUND RUNNING Hirani plans to conduct her research in Pakistan. When she arrives, she’ll travel directly to a disaster relief camp. Once there, she’ll work with numerous stakeholders, including breastfeeding mothers, health-care workers and relief agencies. “By observation I hope to determine why mothers may or may not be breastfeeding their infants,” she says. “Is it because there’s

formula? Is it because there’s no privacy? Are their support systems not available? And what about the intent of the relief agencies and health care workers—what’s their understanding of distributing formula?” Hirani’s end goal is to empower breastfeeding women. “Currently, they can’t communicate their needs and are in a very vulnerable situation. Many times women are being exploited and can’t fight for their rights, or even ask the relief stakeholders to provide privacy.” By giving this vulnerable population a voice, Hirani’s research will help relief workers and health-care professionals develop context-specific supportive interventions, improve breastfeeding practices in relief camps and decrease deaths of young children. Hirani is hopeful that her research can make a real change—not only in Pakistan, but globally. It’s not an issue that only low-income countries face, she explains. When the Fort McMurray wildfire displaced more than 80,000 residents, many breastfeeding women faced the same issues in Alberta that their counterparts do in Pakistan. Any displaced woman and child is vulnerable, whether they are internally displaced like those from Fort McMurray, or moving to another country as a refugee like those fleeing Syria. For Hirani, receiving scholarships like both the Vanier and Killam is a great honour, but also a huge responsibility. “These are the kinds of scholarships that recognize an individual’s research potential, leadership capacity and academic excellence,” she says. “I want to live up to—and exceed— these expectations.” nx


Inspired by her mother and daughter, Colleen Norris’ latest research examines how gender roles, social support, and housework can impact health.

uAlberta | nursing



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AMERICAN HUMOURIST ERMA BOMBECK SAID THAT HOUSEWORK, IF YOU DO IT RIGHT, WILL KILL YOU. Surprisingly, she wasn’t that far off from the truth. According to Dr. Colleen Norris (Dip ’78, BScN ’82, MN ’92), women tend to have worse symptoms and are more likely to die from heart disease than men. She says that factors such as the responsibility of managing the home are likely the reasons why. Globally, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death. Virtually everyone is going to be struck somehow with heart disease due to lifestyle and environment, explains Norris. Researchers have even seen eightyear-olds who have some level of cardiovascular disease. “Heart disease is still the number one killer of women and men in Canada,” says Norris, a professor with the Faculty of Nursing and Scientific Director for the Cardiovascular Health and Stroke Strategic Clinical Network. “Even though it’s widely perceived to be a ‘man’s disease’, women are just as likely to suffer from it as men.”

THERE’S MORE TO THE RELATIONSHIP THAN JUST SEX In 1995 Norris landed a job with the Alberta Provincial Project for Outcome Assessment in Coronary Heart Disease (APPROACH). The newly created APPROACH Registry would collect data on everyone in Alberta who goes for an angiogram and follow up with them for quality of life outcomes of care. “We always worry about whether someone lives or dies from a heart attack rather than what happens after,” says Norris. It was the first time she had ever heard or even thought about what a

person’s quality of life might be after surviving a heart attack—and it motivated her to complete a PhD in Epidemiology. After collecting data for several years, some curious trends started to emerge from the APPROACH Registry. “Women were consistently reporting worse quality of life outcomes than men and we couldn’t pinpoint why,” says Norris, who designed and directed the follow-up evaluation of APPROACH for her PhD studies. “Even when controlling for sex, there was something over and above a person’s biological attributes that was creating these different quality of life outcomes.” Norris began to investigate gender and gender roles—socially manufactured roles, behaviours, expressions and identities—as a possible explanation for the differences in health status. After spending four years following nearly one thousand Canadians under the age of 55 who were suffering from heart disease, Norris and her colleagues found that gender roles, such as being the primary caregiver, had much more to do with surviving a heart attack than biology. As one of the GENdEr and Sex determInantS of cardiovascular disease (GENESIS) investigators, Norris used a new scale developed by the team—the GENESIS Gender Index (GGI)—to untangle characteristics related to sex and gender. After evaluating 40 factors, including marital status, blood pressure, personal income and time spent on housework, the team identified seven attributes that appear to play a role in determining a patient’s outcome. Those who scored high on traits that ranked as more feminine or less masculine were much more likely to have a poorer recovery.

OUT OF THE BLUE “Those who are both chiefly responsible for household work and the primary wage earner, are four times more likely to return to the hospital with another heart event during their recovery,” explains Norris. “That is significant.” Other studies have shown that women who work outside the home are often still responsible for the household management. Many women finish their work shift and go home to start their ‘second shift’ of housework and other responsibilities. When Norris asked patients how many hours of housework they did each week, some women were putting in upwards of 66 hours, but the average for men was four hours—with many not doing any housework at all. “The stress levels of a person who works outside the home at a job they want to do and that they find fulfilling are much different than the person who takes a low-paying job because they need the money,” says Norris. “Once you add in the stress and responsibility of running a house, your body isn’t getting a chance to recover the way that it needs.” There’s a myth that people have heart attacks out of the blue, but it’s simply not true says Norris. The body is great at providing feedback; you just have to listen to what it’s trying to tell you. Although necessary, it can be incredibly difficult to sit down and say, ‘if I am taking this task on, what task can I stop so that I can take care of myself?’ It’s something that Norris has struggled with previously. As part of the so-called ‘sandwich generation’ she was working full-time while raising her daughter and two sons and providing care for her aging parents; more recently she took on the role of caregiver while her husband dealt with cancer. uAlberta | nursing

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The analysis made it clear to Norris that health care providers need to pay close attention to patients who score high on the GGI and have high stress. “At the end of the day, regardless if you are male or female, if you have a high GGI score, you are in trouble; we need to figure out how we can help you cope and what supports we can provide so that you don’t return to the hospital,” she says. “When you’re responsible for managing a household and working full-time as well as providing both childcare and elder care, guess what gets lost? You. You and your health get lost and as a consequence your health is affected negatively.” Norris believes that health care providers need to start having conversations with patients about their stress, social support, and what they’re doing at home.

TIL DEATH DO US PART Even marriage itself has an impact on health outcomes. Studies have consistently shown that married men have better health outcomes than divorced or single men, and that married women have poorer health outcomes than single women. When Norris’ father had coronary bypass surgery, her mother became his caregiver. “I saw the burden that dad’s post bypass care needs placed on mom,” she says. “Yet when mom had a knee replacement, dad didn’t take on the caregiving role; he instead asked me to hire a nurse to cover the times that I couldn’t be with her.” Once again, it comes down to gender relationships and social support, says Norris. “What actually matters to a woman’s health outcome is social support—does she have the perception that she is cared for and has assistance available

from other people? Does this social support exist for her?” Her research showed that regardless of whether a woman was married or not, what mattered most was if she had a daughter or close female friend for social support. “Men had better health outcomes if they were married and having social supports didn’t matter—only whether they had a wife or not,” says Norris. “There’s some thought that once married, perhaps the woman takes on a caregiver role to her husband, which contributes to better health outcomes for him. But when there isn’t anyone in her life to provide the same kind of support that she’s giving to her husband, her health outcome suffers.”

WHAT’S THE MATTER In Scotland, the National Health Service started a program called ‘What matters to you?’ which prompts healthcare workers to ask ‘what matters to you’ rather than ‘what’s the matter’. The aim of the program is to encourage and support more meaningful conversations between people who provide health and social care and the people, families and carers who receive health and social care. “It’s assumed that if a cardiac patient is sent home with a prescription for six medications, they’ll take all six medications,” says Norris. “It’s up to the health care team, with our wealth of knowledge, to have a conversation with the patient. We can help prevent them from coming back to the hospital by simply asking the patient what’s important to them. If they can’t afford all of their medications, which ones are the most important to their health? Or if they’ve taken a particular statin before and didn’t like how it made them feel— okay, let’s talk to the doctor about trying a different one.” As associate director of research for

the division of cardiac surgery at the University of Alberta Hospital and the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, Norris often ends up going on rounds. She’s seen patients’ eyes flash to their partner when told by the cardiologist that they’ve had a heart attack and can’t drive for six weeks. “You know that there’s not a chance that will happen,” says Norris. “As a nurse, my response would be to go back to the patient and explain that those are the rules because if they are driving and an accident occurs, their insurance won’t cover them.” It’s all about asking the patient what they need to make their recovery happen. Taking a few moments to have a conversation about the things that really matter helps establish a relationship with the patient, and also understand them in the context of their own life and the things that are most important to them. With this insight, health care providers are in a much better position to work with the patient to find the best way forward for them. “Every nurse knows in their heart, in their soul, that it’s not just getting a patient a prescription for a pill to lower their blood pressure,” says Norris. “If there is stress going on at home and it hasn’t been addressed, or even mentioned, all we’re doing is putting a bandage on a festering wound.” Nurses need to start asking questions no matter their field—no matter if they’re in a hospital or in an immunization clinic, explains Norris. “Just initiate that conversation with a patient, because we know stress and health are intertwined. If they have a baby who’s screaming and a toddler running around and they have no help, it must be stressful at home. Simply asking them what their day has been like can get the conversation started.” Whatever you do, just start talking—it can help more than you know. nx uAlberta | nursing

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My relationship with women—whether friend, loved one, or even just the shared experience of being a woman—is what really drives me in my research.

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Researcher Carole Estabrooks adds one of Canada’s highest honours to her list of accolades


Estabrooks—a Canada Research Chair in Knowledge Translation and professor in the Faculty of Nursing—and her TREC team are focused on developing solutions for improving the quality of care provided to nursing home residents, enriching the work life of their caregivers and enhancing system efficiency. Already extremely decorated as a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Science and a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing,

Estabrooks will travel to Ottawa at a later date for the official ceremony at Rideau Hall. Established in 1967 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, this highly prestigious award recognizes Estabrooks’ work translating research into health care improvements for older Canadians. She will be joined by three other University of Alberta alumni: Donald Brinton, Patricia Demers and Shar Levine. With a research focus on knowledge translation in the health sciences, uAlberta | nursing

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“We are so pleased that Carole Estabrooks’ research contributions have been recognized with the Order of Canada. She is an outstanding scholar and her work has an important impact on care of older adults in long term settings.” —ANITA MOLZAHN, DEAN OF THE FACULTY OF NURSING

Estabrooks studies the influence of organizations on the research implementation behavior of health care providers and the effect of knowledge translation on patient/resident, provider and system outcomes. Much of Estabrooks’ early research was conducted in acute care hospitals and addressed staff use of ‘best evidence’. But a major challenge of analysing the organizational influences on use of best practice was finding a source of relevant patient outcomes across an organization. “What use is studying clinicians’ use of best evidence if it doesn’t matter to patient outcomes, or even if we are pretty sure it does, we can’t measure it?” says Estabrooks. “I became increasingly frustrated with my own research and wondered if my work mattered or if it could really contribute to a difference in patient health related outcomes.” In 2006 Estabrooks shifted her program of research to its current focus and began to build in a new area that had the capacity to impact an enormous segment of the population. The number of seniors continues to increase sharply and within five years, 19 per cent of Canadians will be over 65 years old. By 2041, nearly a quarter of the Canadian population will be over 65, with seniors over 75 the most rapidly growing group. Motivated by the urgent needs of 15 |

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highly vulnerable and frail older adults who live in residential long term care (LTC) facilities, Estabrooks and her team now conduct the majority of their research in LTC settings—where half of the residents are aged 80 or older. “The need to improve quality of care, quality of life and quality of end-of-life are dramatic,” she says. “And at a time when these older adults most need strong advocacy, they may have the least amount available.” Estabrooks notes that while there are certainly some residents in LTC facilities who can advocate for themselves, almost all are frail and over 70 per cent have some form of dementia. “As our community and alternative living programs become more mainstream and plentiful, and as aging in place policies continue to be implemented, older adults will be admitted to LTC facilities later and later in the trajectory of their decline.” This translates to residents who are more physically, medically and socially complex; however, how LTC facilities are staffed hasn’t changed significantly in some time. Staffed largely by care aides who provide about 90 per cent of direct care, this group is not regulated. Isolation, which has a negative impact on health, is also an issue for this population—whether in the community or LTC facility. Estabrooks’ research shows that women, who also have significantly higher rates of dementia,

make up the majority of LTC facilities and are disproportionately low income and alone. Estabrooks’ adds that recently—and only in a small number of major cities— efforts begun in earnest to address the unique needs of the LBGTQ community. “This is a community that is often marginalized and upon admission to LTC facilities would likely be forced back into the closet, furthering worsening their social and psychological isolation.” The last decade of Estabrooks’ research and seeing its impact has given her hope for a better future for the care and quality of life of seniors. “It has certainly been worth the effort,” she says. “The work is rewarding, the sector welcoming, the quality of our team makes it a pleasure to work with. We have been able to move from observational work to intervention studies, network studies, and to exploit our rich database.” One day at a time, and one research study at a time, is how Estabrooks and the TREC team are shaping the future of LTC facilities and impacting the lives of older Canadians. Interested in studying with Dr. Estabrooks and the TREC team? There are many opportunities for postdoctoral fellows, graduate students from a wide variety of disciplines, as well as, undergraduate students at TREC. Visit for more information. nx



Those who would help shape the future of Canadian healthcare, as leaders and educators, often chose to complete a PhD in a different discipline. As a result, of the nearly 200 nurses who held a doctoral degree in 1986, less than 15 per cent held a PhD in nursing. This didn’t sit well with 15 Faculty of Nursing graduate students, who banded together in 1989 to form the Nursing PhD Program: A Reality (NPPR) Action Group. It was through their dedicated efforts of the NPPR lobbying that funding for their vision to bring a PhD in nursing program to the University of Alberta was approved by the Government of Alberta. On January 1, 1991, the first PhD students were admitted. A quarter of a century— and 181 PhD in nursing degrees—later, our graduates have had a huge impact on the nursing profession and healthcare system through their research, leadership and as educators. Ten graduates from the PhD in nursing program—including the first graduate, Joan Bottoroff, and the most recent graduate, Roger Scott—have come together to share how their degrees have impacted their careers.

What role does a PhD in nursing play in health research and education?


JOAN BOTTOROFF, PHD ‘92 Professor, School of Nursing, UBC Faculty of Health and Social Development; Director, Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention

PhD in nursing program is so important for preparing nurses to lead programs of research. With direct, real-life experiences at the front lines of all facets of healthcare, nurses bring a unique understanding of the challenges related to health and illness across the lifespan to their research. As such, it is not surprising that nursing research is grounded in patient/family experience of health and illness, and brings the voices of patients, caregivers, families, healthcare providers and communities into the research process. This research approach provides fertile ground for developing and evaluating creative solutions and innovations to support and strengthen nursing practice. With an increasing emphasis on patient-oriented research, patient-centred research designs, and patient-centred outcomes, doctoral prepared nurses are ideally positioned

to take leadership roles in advancing health research. Their role in this research is essential—not only to build a body of knowledge to guide nursing practice —but to provide the evidence needed to transform healthcare and enhance the health of individuals, families and communities.

As a member of the Nursing PhD Program: A Reality (NPPR) Action Group, why was it so important to bring a PhD program to Alberta? As a member of the NPPR group, I was highly invested in bringing PhD in nursing education to Alberta. On a personal level, I wanted to study at the University of Alberta with nursing faculty who were engaged in research on issues arising from nursing and healthcare in Canada. I was lucky enough to be part of the BScN program at the University of Alberta when the first nursing research course in the undergraduate program was introduced. This course not only uAlberta | nursing

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taught me about the kinds of research that nurses were involved in, but also what the possibilities were when nurses set about to explore and solve problems using research methods. My interest in research began with this course and led me to complete masters’ degrees in nursing and education. Although I knew that completing a PhD in another discipline was an option, my experience as a nurse educator and MN galvanized my interest in pursuing doctoral education in nursing. I recognized that our nursing literature was often dominated by nurse scholars and researchers from countries where doctoral education had existed for many years, and that many issues that we encountered in nursing were not adequately addressed in this literature. This reinforced for me the need for nurses to be involved in developing the knowledge base needed for practice in our own settings. Building on the exceptional leadership of faculty members in supporting the development of nursing research in Alberta, there was no doubt in my mind that the University of Alberta was ideally positioned to launch a PhD program in nursing. I am very proud to have been part of the NPPR group, led by Ginette Rodger, and of our efforts. I believed, like all members of the NPPR, it was important to bring a PhD program to Alberta to provide the evidence that nurses needed to guide their practice, to enable nurses to play an active role in transforming healthcare and addressing health inequities, and ultimately to contribute to improving the health of Albertans and all Canadians. Twenty-five years later we can see that graduates of this program have achieved all of that. ❙x 17 |

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that shapes what knowledge we generate and ideas we explore, and how we put these ideas to work making a difference in people’s lives.

What value has a PhD brought to your work as an academic, administrator and researcher?


KAYSI KUSHNER, PHD ‘01 Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta

Why did you decide to pursue a PhD in nursing?


ou know, I had decided by the time that I finished my BScN that I’d be back for graduate studies. Both of my parents were high school teachers and two of my aunts were actually nursing educators, so although I loved frontline nursing, there was also a part of me that loved education. When I began as a sessional instructor after receiving my MN, teaching went from being something that I was interested in and thought I would enjoy, to something that I was passionate about. I knew that to have a continuing faculty position I would need a PhD, so it really cemented my decision. Throughout the process I discovered that I thrive in an environment where I’m able to explore new ideas and continuously learn. I think the fundamental reason that I enjoy this so much is that in nursing we take a ‘knowledge for practice’ perspective

y PhD was a rigorous and intensive experience, but it laid an amazing foundation for my research, teaching and learning, and even administration roles. Any kind of education, but in particular the PhD program, is such an amazing luxury. I was lucky enough to be able to spend a number of years where the primary focus of attention was to read and explore as much as I could in a variety of areas. When I was getting ready to do my final oral exam, my supervisor looked at me and said, “You may not appreciate this right now, but you will likely in your career never again be as well read as you are right now.” And she was right. A PhD allowed me to really hone my ability to think strategically; to make decisions with breadth and depth of understanding and pulling together what makes sense to me. You also develop a habit of continuously challenging yourself. I’ll ask myself, “This is comfortable, but is it really the best path? Maybe I should get out of my comfort zone.” I do this continuously in education. A PhD also really highlighted the responsibility I have to pay back to the collective—it was a big part of my decision to take on an administrative role. If we made selfish decisions and said, “No, I’m comfortable right here and don’t want to take on something different like a leadership position,” the place would implode and we couldn’t function! ❙x

DIANNE GODKIN, PHD ‘02 Senior Ethicist, Trillium Health Partners

What value has a PhD in nursing brought to your work?


hen I began the PhD program in 1997, I hadn’t imagined a career in healthcare ethics or being part of the leadership team of one of the largest community-based teaching hospitals in Canada (Trillium Health Partners, Mississauga) which is where I find myself today. The intellectual stimulation of engaging with faculty and fellow students shaped my thinking and practice in many ways and helped prepare me for the demands of working in a complex and constantly changing health system. Certainly, the research methodology and statistics courses I completed continue to serve me well in my roles as researcher and member of the Research Ethics Board. The nursing history and philosophy courses I took emphasized the need for reflection and clarification of one’s assumptions and these too are important tools I use in my work every day. And last, but certainly not least, having Dr. Vangie Bergum as my dissertation supervisor left an imprint of the critical role of relational

autonomy in all that we do in healthcare from the point of care through to the boardroom.

You were a member of the Nursing PhD Program: A Reality (NPPR) Action Group. What do you think we should take on next?


ne of my biggest worries about our healthcare system—and a problem that keeps me up at night—is our ability (or perhaps the lack thereof) to continue to meet the care needs of our growing and aging population. What I see described in the literature from many parts of the world and what we are certainly experiencing locally is that each and every day we are being asked to do more with less–to see more patients and to move patients through the system more quickly. Innovation and “doing things differently” can only move the needle so far. As the largest body of healthcare providers, I wonder, what nurses collectively can do to tackle this issue in a meaningful way that makes a demonstrable difference in effectively and efficiently meeting the care needs of our population now and in the future —locally, nationally, and globally. This issue needs a practical solution and I don’t believe there is any other group that is better positioned than nurses to come up with that solution! ❙x

SHANNON SCOTT, PHD ‘06 Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta; Canada Research Chair (Tier II) for Knowledge Translation in Child Health

What role does a PhD in nursing play in health research?


urses are the largest group of healthcare providers in our healthcare system. As a result, nurses’ influence in shaping Canadian healthcare is significant. Graduates of a nursing doctoral program are prepared to conduct research independently and research is the critical component to ensure an innovation, high quality, efficient and responsive healthcare system.

Did you know that you would eventually seek a PhD?


hen I decided to pursue a career in nursing in 1990, I knew that I wanted to eventually pursue graduate education. Early in my career I realized that if I wanted to shape my discipline I would need to pursue a PhD and I always knew that I wanted to complete my doctoral education at the University of Alberta given the program’s reputation. ❙x uAlberta | nursing

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but also the complexity of health of the healthcare system and the political, social and cultural context in which the health system operates. Having a PhD in nursing will position you with the skills and knowledge to effectively engage in and lead collaborative research and health care teams and to influence system change. It also creates opportunities to generate and disseminate knowledge, to advance nursing science, and to facilitate its translation to practice within the broader health system. ❙x

DEBORAH WHITE, PHD ‘04 Interim Dean, University of Calgary in Qatar

Thinking about your PhD work how has it informed your day-today practice?

If a student were to ask you why they should do a PhD in nursing, how would you reply?


t has definitely influenced my practice in a number of ways. The knowledge and skills, critical analysis, synthesis and evaluation of evidence and information issues informs my day-today work whether it be my scholarship of teaching, research, or as an academic leader in the university. Designing and evaluating research, practice, or system innovations and influencing health agenda and policy initiatives also requires these attributes. I believe that my PhD education has influenced my success in securing research funds, successful development and implementation of initiatives that support scholarship of faculty and students. On a daily basis it has influenced my approach to the development of partnerships to support the work of faculty and the University.

If a student were to ask you why they should do a PhD in nursing, how would you reply?


aving a PhD strengthens your critical analysis of not only evidence,

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the Graduate Teaching and Learning program had a significant influence on my career and my nursing practice. As a nurse educator with a research and clinical focus on aging and community health, the PhD program provided me with a renewed vision and an understanding of nursing leadership and why it is imperative for the discipline but also our patients and their families. More so, I’ve been able to develop a program of research that is relevant to society while promoting the need for quality care and the development of public policy. In my day-to-day nursing practice, I treasure sharing experiences with patients and colleagues that can be transformed into research and translated back to practice.

I SUZANNE DUPUISBLANCHARD, PHD ‘07 Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Université de Moncton; Research Chair in Population Aging; Director, Centre for Aging Research

Thinking about your PhD work, how has it informed your day-today practice?


y PhD experience changed everything! For me, the 18 months I spent on campus while completing coursework, meeting nursing colleagues, being mentored by my co-supervisors and working in their programs of research along with attending conferences and completing

would encourage students to pursue a PhD in nursing because it provides an additional facet of understanding of our discipline. The nuances that explain who we are as nurses and why we do what we do are intertwined with our history, our theories, our knowledge and our quest for science. Educating more nurses with a PhD in nursing will allow continued growth of our discipline. I believe we became nurses to help those in need and a PhD in nursing provides the ability to theoretically reflect about the status quo, to consider actions to improve the situation and to get involved. I am always proud to introduce myself as an RN and to share that I have a PhD in nursing! ❙x

RAISA GUL, PHD ‘07 Professor and Director MScN, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Aga Khan University, Pakistan

Why did you decide to pursue a PhD in nursing at the University of Alberta?


PhD degree was definitely a requirement for career growth. I decided to pursue my doctoral degree in 2003 when I was working as an assistant professor at Aga Khan University in Pakistan. I was required to teach in the MScN program, but I was well aware of my shortcomings— although my clinical skills were strong, my research skills were limited. I needed to go abroad as there weren’t any PhD in nursing program available in Pakistan. I decided to attend the University of Alberta because it had reputed faculty members, it didn’t require GRE for enrollment, and most students could complete their program on time.

What value has a PhD in nursing brought to your work?


hrough the PhD program I developed an understanding of the link between research and knowledge development. It also provided me the

opportunity to enhance my ability as an educator. In my practice, I try to emulate the teaching and assessment strategies that I experienced as a PhD student. My research and writing skills were also enhanced in the program. I published the first article of my career while I was in the program, which gave me the confidence that ‘I can publish’. With the above knowledge and skills, I have been able to form multidisciplinary research groups, write grant applications and secure intra and extramural funding. I mentored many faculty members, nurses, and graduate students for research and publication. Along with my colleagues, I led many workshop related to curriculum development and teaching and learning skills. Consequently, I am well-known for my qualitative research skills, not only in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, but also in other entities at Aga Khan University. Likewise, I am well respected for my academic skills at the national and regional levels. Overall, the doctoral degree equipped me with all the necessary skills and attributes that are important for a scholar and educator, and are required for a professorial rank. ❙x

DONNA MCLEAN, PHD ‘12 Nurse Practitioner at Covenant Health Misericordia, Mazankowski Heart Institute, and AHS EMS Community Care Urgent Care Response; Faculty, Faculty of Health Disciplines, Athabasca University; Faculty, Faculty of Nursing, MacEwan University

Thinking about your PhD work how has it informed your day-today practice?


eing a PhD prepared nurse practitioner/nurse scientist has given me the educational background to lead change in a healthcare system through critically appraising the evidence to determine the most effective strategies that will impact patient outcomes. It was through my doctoral dissertation (SCRIP-HTN) that I was able to design and implement a randomized trial to test a new clinical intervention protocol in the delivery of care: The effect of nurse and pharmacist care on improving blood pressure management in patients with diabetes. Results from my dissertation were translated and disseminated into practice and now nurses and uAlberta | nursing

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pharmacists are playing a role in managing blood pressure outside the family physicians office. My PhD increased my skills to analyze the needs of specific patient populations and to intervene to impact outcomes through the use of evidenced-based practice. I am currently engaged in clinical research projects to develop innovative strategies to improve blood pressure control. It has given me many opportunities to engage in intellectual perspectives in my specialty area and collaborate beyond borders to further the success of hypertension management. Through my research associations I have been able to collaborate with interdisciplinary teams and researchers locally, nationally and internationally from various health care disciplines in the general area of hypertension management and more specifically in health centre improvement projects in Russia and Ukraine.

questions are abundant, current and relevant from the clinical environment. I knew completing my PhD would allow me to build my own research capacity and skills to critically appraise, contextualize and translate my nursing practice as well as others. Today I play a part in developing quality practice solutions through collaborative partnerships and community–based approaches to improve access to care and health outcomes for patients and families. My PhD opportunities came full circle from when I was a mentored teen to when Drs. Rene Day and Pauline Paul agreed to be my PhD mentors and supervisors. ❙x

Did you know that you would eventually seek a PhD?


es, most definitely. As a teenager I had the unique opportunity to participate as a data collector alongside Dr. Rene Day on a Stroke Unit that my mother managed at the Glenrose Hospital in Edmonton. I wanted to be involved in research from that day forward! Dr. Day’s passion for conducting research at the bedside and engagement of learners provided the wonderment for me as a teen to want to continue to examine issues within nursing practice, particularly in an evidence-based practice environment. She mentored that research is a critical means of advancing the quality of nursing care we provide for our patients, whether in hospitals or communities. I value the art of clinical expertise and advanced nursing practice at the bedside — clinical practice research 21 |

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changing social, political environmental and technological times. Gaining that scope of knowledge will not only change you personally, but professionally is so many ways. A PhD program will provide you all the necessary tools and more to live your passion for nursing. As crafters of your own learning, and with guidance from some of the world’s most amazing nursing leaders, it will set in motion a series of opportunities that will help shape how you view the world in relation to nursing practice. The PhD journey will strengthen your abilities as a critical inquirer, nursing leader, educator, researcher and policy maker. It will prepare you to actively participate in leadership roles and expand your contributions from a local level to an international level. This higher level learning will contribute to the advancement of nursing, because change has to come from within our own professional knowledge systems. Yes it will challenge you, alternatively it will ground you in ways of knowing, being and doing in such a way that your own philosophy and perspectives in nursing will be nurtured spiritually, intellectually, mindfully and physically in life giving ways.

Did you know that you would eventually seek a PhD?

R. LISA BOURQUE BEARSKIN, PHD ‘14 Associate Professor and Interim HCA/PN Program Chair, School of Nursing, Thompson Rivers University; President, Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association

If a student were to ask you why they should do a PhD in nursing, how would you reply?


hat are you waiting for? There has never been a greater need for nurses to advance knowledge in these


o, I never imaged that my early Cree/Metis roots would have led me into a PhD program. My grandmother and mother were the ones who always told me that I would make a good nurse and that I should work with people because I was always so caring right from a very young age. As an Indigenous woman, I am reminded of what our Elders and traditional knowledge holders always tell us: We must continue to reflect on our own philosophy in the spirit of wellness and the struggle for selfdetermination and to do this we

have to know who we are and where we come from. This message has resonated with me my entire life and has guided me in finding my way through the hegemony of education and health. When I lost sight, this teaching guided me all through my learning and eventually brought me to my PhD journey and my love for learning. I want to contribute to the legacy of Indigenous nursing knowledge, so that others can continue to the inquiry. Although I never imagined I could achieve success in the PhD program, I knew that my hard work ethic and compassion to help people would take me far—I just had to allow myself to enjoy the experience. ❙x

interests can be used to improve the health of individuals or populations. RNs and NPs with a PhD are positioned to influence health through nursing research focused on nursing practice, or through broader health research. Health education benefits from doctoral prepared nurses through the impact we can have in bridging research to practice gaps and more importantly our work with students and health care professionals. We can never fully know the impact we will have on students and colleagues and how it just takes one positive conversation or one question that makes one of them wonder “hmmm, what if?” marking the start of a new researcher’s journey of inquiry and discovery.

To celebrate a quarter century Canada’s first funded PhD in nursing program, the Faculty of Nursing hosted an Anniversary Dinner on September 24.

Did you know that you would eventually seek a PhD?


ROGER SCOTT, PHD ‘16 Director Health Services Reserve, Canadian Armed Forces

What role does a PhD in nursing play in health research and education?


he path that led to my career as a PhD prepared NP was an interesting one. I started out fixing jets in the Canadian Armed Forces, took first aid/CPR courses and became an instructor and volunteered with St. John Ambulance. That led to my next career as a paramedic where I worked with two outstanding paramedics who were also RNs. I followed their example and completed a nursing degree which eventually led to my wanting to be a NP and a master’s degree. A PhD was not in my plans, but with the encouragement of the late Commodore Christine Newburn-Cook, I agreed to enroll in one semester as a special student and several years later, I am the 181st graduate of the Faculty of Nursing PhD program. nx

PhD in nursing brings the breadth and depth of nursing experience to health research. Our focus on individuals, families or communities means our profession’s research

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Both current and former professors and graduate students travelled from across Canada to attend the event!

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LEADERSHIP, CURIOSITY, DISTINGUISH AWARD-WINNING PROFESSOR Outstanding professor honoured for commitment to students, research and community.

STEPPING UP WITH LEADERSHIP RAISED IN A SERVICE FAMILY WHERE GIVING WAS A WAY OF LIFE, YONGE LIVES BY HER MOTHER’S WORDS: “IF YOU HAVE TWO OF ANYTHING, GIVE ONE AWAY. DON’T HOARD IDEAS, POWER OR TIME. GIVE IT AWAY.” Throughout her 36 years of service on campus, Yonge has given freely of her time and knowledge as a leader, whether she is teaching and supervising nursing students, conducting research, serving her profession in various committees or serving in several administrative positions on campus, including as the university’s vice-provost, deputy provost and interim provost. “You step up and do what you can do,” she said. “My philosophy is to leave a place better than I found it.” Yonge earned a BSc in nursing from University of Alberta in 1974, followed by a master’s degree in educational psychology and later, a PhD, both from

“Leadership is a form of citizenship.” —OLIVE YONGE

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IN MEMORIAM The Faculty of Nursing notes with

sorrow the passing of the following graduates. (Passings occurred in 2016 unless otherwise noted.)

the Faculty of Education, reflecting a rounded approach to learning. Over the years, her work has been recognized with several awards, including a 3M National Teaching Fellowship, the university’s Rutherford Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and a Vargo Teaching Chair. She’s served on more than 30 committees and co-chaired several task forces on campus. She’s also a member of the Psychologists Association of Alberta and the Alberta Association of Registered Nurses. Through all of Yonge’s service runs a common thread of leadership—a key driver in everything she does. “I value the work that underlies leadership: the principles of governance, the role of policies, working on teams. The rewards are seeing a team accomplish things I couldn’t do on my own, from establishing a scholarship to developing a pandemic plan. Leadership is a form of citizenship.” The final research project she is focusing on before she retires—her legacy project—is the meaning of courage in leadership. The project includes interviews with 84 women on what they have to say about emotional, moral and ethical courage, with the ultimate goal of building their capacity and developing more female leaders. Yonge wants to leave them with a set of empowering skills. “What are we doing for females in the public sector? How can we teach emerging leaders to be great? If we give them a toolbox, it’s better for them.” 25 |

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Being named as a Distinguished University Professor is a particular honour for her, she added. “I was pleased that, as a woman, I was chosen for this award.” Besides her research and administrative work, teaching is also a passion for Yonge. Using an assortment of people-friendly methods ranging from a summer book club to writing retreats, Yonge enjoys creating unusual ways of sharing knowledge, whether in faculty development or student courses. Even the basic things matter to her. One nursing leadership course she runs includes a simulation of how to run an effective meeting. The model has been adopted by the Students’ Union and served her well during her own time in the provost’s office. “I love a good meeting. It starts and ends on time, but after the meeting, people stay and talk. They don’t want to leave the intellectual debate, the successful resolution of the conflict.” She’s also pioneered research and, with a former graduate student, co-wrote a book on nursing preceptorship, a one-on-one teaching and learning approach that sees registered nurses instructing students in their specialized areas. Yonge saw the practice happening in the medical profession and thought it would translate well to nursing. “With the specialized instruction, nursing students learn as much as they can, hone their skills and emerge as professionals who are confident and competent.” As she reflects on her three decades on campus, Yonge feels blessed to be a U of A leader and educator. “The vitality, the creativity we have in academia— there is no other place like it and I feel so privileged to be here.” nx

‘40 Elizabeth Louise Bell, Dip, of Victoria, BC, in September ‘46 Pamela Bissell, Dip, of Surrey, BC, in May ‘46 Lois Radley (Anderson), Dip, of Ottawa, ON, in July ‘47 Pearl Hook (Nicholson), Dip, of Dickson, TN, in July ‘49 Shirley Minogue, Dip, of Edmonton, AB, in July ‘50 Mary Callaghan, Dip, in July ‘50 Norah Fraser (White), Dip, ‘51 BScN, of Nanaimo, BC, in November 2014 ‘52 Mina Pool, Dip, ‘72 BScN, of Edmonton, AB, in May ‘54 Evangeline Webster, Dip, of Meadow Lake, SK, in February ‘55 Barbara Horricks (Samis), Dip, of Edmonton, AB, in July ‘58 Gwendolyn Leask, Dip, in July ‘58 Ann Richardson, Dip, of Calgary, AB, in September ‘59 Margaret Garland, Dip, of Vulcan, AB, in June ‘61 Penelope Barr (Kellam), Dip, of Comox, BC, in June ‘70 Beverley Boren, Dip, ‘75 BScN, in October ‘77 Barbara Leblanc (Alexander), Dip, of Beaumont, AB, in October ‘79 Catherine Harlan (Chorney), BScN, of Edmonton, AB, in April ‘81 Connie Ball, Dip, of Calgary, AB, in July 2015 ‘82 Patricia Dooley, BScN, of Edmonton, AB, in August ‘93 Donna Hooper, BScN, of Victoria, BC, in June ‘05 Helena Mitchell, BScN, of Edmonton, AB, in June

A huge thank you to the 110 alumni who attended the 2016 Nursing Alumni Lunch on September 24 and made it such a success! Our sold-out event was held in the Wedgwood Room at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, which again provided a fantastic view of the North Saskatchewan River valley and fall foliage.

Violet Cu

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Class of 1956

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Class of Januar

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er 1957

Class of Septemb

Class of 1964

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ber 1


of S Class

Class of 1966

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UPCOMING ALUMNI EVENTS All alumni are invited to attend the Annual Alumni Dinner in Calgary! Date: Tuesday May 2, 2017 Location: Calgary Golf & Country Club 50 Avenue & Elbow Drive, SW Time: Cocktails 6:00 p.m. (Cash Bar) Dinner 7:00 pm Cost: $55 Alumni Weekend 2017 will take place on September 22 - 25. Watch for details on the SAVE Faculty of Nursing alumni THE ! event in the Spring 2017 DATE issue of uAlberta | nursing!

Please register online by April 21, 2017 at: For assistance with registration, or for more information, please contact Fiona Wilson by email ( or phone (780) 492-9171. uAlberta | nursing

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Class of 1974

Class of 1975


Class of 19

son na Wil

Fio Class of 1991

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and K


Congratulations to… MANDY ARCHIBALD, BSCN ‘07, PHD ‘16 Archibald, a recent graduate of the PhD program, was named as one of Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 by Avenue Magazine for using art in the health education, particularly for patients managing chronic illnesses.

PATTIE PRYMA, PHD ‘13 Moving Forward Journeys of Strength and

Moving Forward

Journeys of Strength and



Pryma’s PhD research on domestic violence was the starting point for the creation of Moving Moving Fo rward Journeys of Stren Forward: Journeys of Strength and Hope, a book gth and Hope published in partnership with the Community Against Family Violence (CIAFV), the City Read the stories Initiatives of strong women with courageous journeys. Altho ugh each wom an’s Edmonton journey included of family violence, as they and the University of Alberta Faculty share their struggles and succ esses you will see that family violence does of not Nursing. define who they are. Written to provide hope to othersand Written by CIAFV Community and toproduced dispel the myths of family viole nce, these personal accounts offer insight into a world many people Project Team who share their own are unable to undeAdvocates rstand yet easily able to judge. stories and pictures, the book aims to give hope Be inspired by these frank and inspirational stories from experts of their to others and own lives, who to dispel the myths of family have travelled through the world of abuse to a place of hope, fulfillment and realiz ed dream violence. Theirs.personal accounts offer insight into a world many are unable to understand, and inspirational stories on how those who have experienced family violence have been able to rebuild positive change and have strength in the face of adversity. The book is available for $10 from CIAFV (http:// with all funds being returned to the CIAFV Community Advocates Project Team.

BUKOLA SALAMI, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Salami was honoured by Avenue Magazine as one of the best and brightest young people in Edmonton. She was named as one of the city’s Top 40 Under 40 for her work on data that could improve the well-being of immigrants in this country and around the world.

OLIVE YONGE (BSCN ’74), PROFESSOR The Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) announced in November that Yonge had been selected as winner of the 2016 Pat Griffin Scholar Award! She will receive a $10,000 grant to promote her nursing education research through inquiry, mentorship, and dissemination, and will provide the Pat Griffin Annual Lecture at the 2016 CASN Council meeting.

Correction In the Spring 2016 issue of uAlberta | nursing we inadvertently missed acknowledging Glenna Phippen (BScN ’88) as a recipient of a CARNA Centennial Award. We apologize for the oversight.

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GROUP OF FIVE NURSES REFUGEE SPONSORSHIP CANADA IS A COUNTRY OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND IMMIGRANTS. THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION REPORTS THAT ABOUT 7,835,502 PEOPLE CURRENTLY LIVING IN CANADA ARE FIRST GENERATION IMMIGRANTS, WHICH IS 21.80% OF THE CANADIAN POPULATION. Many more of us come from earlier generations of newcomers. According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada refugees from more than 140 countries were either granted asylum or resettled in Canada in 2010 ( The refugee program was expanded by 20% over three years in 2011. Recently, Canada has provided asylum to about 10,000 persecuted persons per year and welcomed another 12,000 refugees from abroad. While the crisis in Syria has gained the most media attention over the past year, refugees continue to arrive from countries such as Somalia, South Sudan, the Congo Republic, and Ethiopia. Support from government programs, settlement agencies and Canadians facilitates their integration into society. The Group of Five Nurses (Drs. Marion Allen, Vera Caine, Judy Mill, Linda Ogilvie and Vicki Strang), colleagues of the Faculty of Nursing, decided to respond to the call for sponsors in light of the Syrian refugee crisis.

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They are sponsoring a refugee family in partnership with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and are interested in sponsoring a family of six or more members in which one or more persons may have existing health concerns. With a fundraising goal of $40,000, they are open to working with families who come from any of the refugee-designated countries around the world. To date they do not have a designated family, but MCC expects to have a family for them by February of 2017. A decision was made to seek the involvement and support of the Faculty of Nursing in the initiative as a way to increase awareness of refugee issues in our student population and to highlight the social responsibilities associated with being a professional nurse. Students, faculty and support staff members have been invited to join the various committees and are currently participating in the fundraising and communications committees. Additional committees will become active once a family is confirmed. Undergraduate students raised $1,300 for the initiative at a BBQ in September and other fund-raising activities are planned.

If you’re interested in joining one of the committees, attending a fund-raising event, or would like to stay up-to-date on the Group of Five Nurses refugee fundraising initiative, you can visit their blog:

Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Faculty of Nursing Level 3, Edmonton Clinic Health Academy 11405 87 Avenue, University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 1C9 Ph: (780) 492-9171 Fax: (780) 492-2551 Email: Website:


Elly de Jongh, one of 315 contributors to the Faculty of Nursing’s Chair in Aging and Quality of Life, with Dr. Wendy Duggleby (MN ’90), the first holder of the chair.

To find out more about how you can make a difference by investing in research, please contact us: E: | P: (780) 492-9171 | W: uAlberta | nursing | SPRING 2014

Fall 2016  

University of Alberta Faculty of Nursing alumni magazine

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