Where are you from?
My family moved from Montreal, Québec to High River, Alberta when I was 11 years old. I attended high school there and then came to the University of Lethbridge to study Biological Sciences, after receiving a personal response to my many questions from Dr. Job Kuijt, the Chair of the Department at that time. I went on to study insects in southern Alberta hay fields at the Lethbridge Research Station (now the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre) for a few years, and then completed the nursing program at Lethbridge (Community) College. I have worked in palliative care and public health nursing roles for the past 38 years. During that time, I also completed a Master of Nursing degree at the University of Calgary and a PhD in Nursing at the University of Alberta.
When did you start at the U of L and what do you do here?
I was an undergraduate student here, earning a BASc in 1978. I brought my children to campus for judo, dance, and music classes during the 80s. In the 90s, I participated in the development and implementation of the Palliative Care certificate program offered by the University’s School of Nursing. After a few years of teaching as a sessional instructor, I joined the Southern Alberta Collaboration for Nursing Education (SACNE) Program, first at the College, and then at the University of Lethbridge in 2002. At the time, we were planning the implementation of the Nursing Education in Southern Alberta (NESA) program, which after 18 years has now undergone a complete revision that will be launched in Fall of 2020. In addition to teaching in the undergraduate nursing program, I also teach in the public health program and various graduate programs (MSc, MN). My research over the years has focused on infectious diseases, global health, and the role of nurses in development and implementation of public health policy.
What’s the best part of your job?
I love the many opportunities to engage with and learn alongside students, colleagues, communities and research participants. The freedom to explore and interrogate questions of relevance to the nursing profession and the responsibility to make mindful and intentional contributions to society create an ongoing tension that is challenging and inspiring to navigate. I also appreciate the flexibility that allows me to continue with clinical nursing — a practice that keeps me grounded in the essential purpose of my work!
How has your work changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic has allowed me to participate in the efforts of my public health colleagues to minimize the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in our community and to raise awareness about how to protect ourselves and our neighbours. I have been part of the intensive work at Alberta Health Services in the assessment, testing, and teaching process to ensure that people with symptoms of the infection have access to the information and care they need in these stressful and frightening times. I have loved being a student of my former students as I get up to speed with current AHS practices and protocols! It has also encouraged me to re-consider learning opportunities and modalities for our students and how to balance their safety with the need to learn how to be a nurse in pandemic situations, as I doubt this will be their only exposure to such a crisis.
What’s one thing you’ve learned from this situation?
It has been fascinating to observe the great variety of responses of people from across the globe as the tsunami of this infection has affected everyone, everywhere. Although there are negative and hurtful actions by some, I choose to focus on the many people who demonstrate loving and compassionate support of others — they renew my faith in humanity! Having studied our responses to the influenza epidemic of 1918-19 and SARS-CoV-1 in 2003, it is satisfying to see that we have been able to apply strategic knowledge to the current situation. We will learn much more from this experience that I trust will be applied to the next threat. Beyond that, I have gained much appreciation for the strength and wisdom of the women who have led the way for our province and our country in their thoughtful, calm, and evidence-informed approach to ‘planking the curve’ of this dreadful pandemic. They are inspiring and I admire their incredible perseverance and dedication to society.