Fall 2021 Alumni Magazine Digital Copy

The Faculty of Nursing is dedicated to promoting health, equity, and quality of life for the public good by creating vibrant and supportive environments, advancing health science, and developing nurse leaders. U of A Nursing highlights tremendous achievements in the Faculty of Nursing community. It is distributed to alumni, faculty, staff, students, and donors.

The Faculty of Nursing is dedicated to promoting health, equity, and quality of life for the public good by creating vibrant and supportive environments, advancing health science, and developing nurse leaders.

U of A Nursing highlights tremendous achievements in the Faculty of Nursing community. It is distributed to alumni, faculty, staff, students, and donors.


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FALL 2021




Simon Palfreyman's U of A research team is

developing and testing sensors embedded in wound

dressing to prevent amputations for people living

with diabetes | p. 7

Photographer: FaePictures




The Faculty of Nursing is

dedicated to promoting health,

equity, and quality of life for the

public good by creating vibrant

and supportive environments,

advancing health science, and

developing nurse leaders.

07 Wound biosensors hope

to prevent 1,100 lower

limb amputations that

occur each year in


10 Unique cardiac

rehabilitation program

developed for high-risk

cancer patients

13 Five tips for health-care

professionals and others

to use when looking to be


23 We think you are U of A+:

professional achievements,

community service and

innovation of nursing

graduates and faculty


Congratulations to our

2020-2021 award


27 Meet the student leaders

for the 2021-2022

academic year

U of A Nursing highlights

tremendous achievements in the

Faculty of Nursing community. It

is distributed to alumni, faculty,

staff, students, and donors.

Send your comments to:

The Editor, Nursing Alumni Magazine

Faculty of Nursing

Level 3, ECHA, University of Alberta

11405-87 Avenue,

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 1C9


2 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1


Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I am delighted to connect with you for this year’s U of A

Nursing Alumni Magazine. For the next two years, I will be

acting dean in the Faculty of Nursing, and I’m looking

forward to getting to know more in our tight-knit nursing


Some may not know that I am truly green and gold through

and through. I received my undergraduate, master’s and

doctoral degrees from the University of Alberta. To know a

little more about me, there is a quick Q & A in the pages


More importantly, inside you will find a collection of stories

showcasing nurse innovators in our community who are

pushing the boundaries of science and compassion

through cutting-edge research. I hope you enjoy these

remarkable stories and share them with your friends,

family, and colleagues. The groundbreaking work being

accomplished by our alumni, faculty, and students is a feat

we must celebrate together.

This past year at the University of Alberta has been truly

unprecedented. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every

facet of our day-to-day activities — from how we conducted

research, to adapting to remote learning whenever

possible, and discovering how to effectively collaborate

from the safety of our own homes.

An institution-wide restructuring initiative developed in

response to financial pressures, the U of A for Tomorrow,

began last year and will continue well into the new year.

This brings many changes to the University of Alberta but

also to the Faculty of Nursing.

As of July 1, 2021, our faculty became part of the College

of Health Sciences alongside our colleagues in the Faculty

of Medicine and Dentistry; Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport,

and Recreation; Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical

Sciences; Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine; and the

School of Public Health.

This new model is an opportunity to do more of what we

already do so well in our core mandate of research and

teaching: demonstrate leadership for the common and vital

purpose of promoting health, equity, and quality of life for

the public good.

The new college will allow for deeper collaborations and

mutual growth while maintaining our respective identities

that make each of our faculties unique.

This opportunity poses new and exciting

opportunities for our faculty.

Despite the many changes and challenges of the

past year, the Faculty of Nursing continues to

thrive due to your support. Because of you, we

continue to provide world-class teaching and

learning opportunities for our students and conduct

innovative research that changes the world for the


As we move forward into this new year, we are

thankful to have the support of you — our alumni,

donors, and friends — alongside us.


Diane Kunyk

Acting Dean, Faculty of Nursing

Photographer: John Ulan

3 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1


A M e s s a g e f r o m A l u m n i B o a r d C h a i r

Photo: Supplied

The Faculty of Nursing is extremely grateful for the work Kate Young has achieved as Alumni Board Chair over a two-year term. Young is a 2007

graduate of the BScN program who has cultivated a passion for bringing together health-systems and front-line lenses, first through her clinical

work, and later through her pursuit of an MBA and subsequent work as a consultant with KPMG.

"First and foremost, on behalf of the Board, I want to thank our U of A nursing alumni for their tremendous contributions to the health system. We

are continuing to talk about what alumni need and have been spending the summer discussing the needs of our nursing alumni and potential

avenues of support, after a tumultuous year. I am finishing my term in October and am looking forward to passing the torch to another skilled

nursing leader. It's been an honour to serve as the Chair and to be part of developing the Board," said Young.

Looking to the future, she hopes a strong emphasis on mentoring our nursing leaders of tomorrow is paramount.

"Across the world, the nursing workforce in crisis and we know that a number of seasoned and new alumni are working in challenging

circumstances. Mentorship is something that will need to be at the forefront, particularly for our newer grads who are entering the profession at a

very difficult time."

Interested in getting involved or attending University of Alberta Faculty of Nursing Alumni events? Please contact nugiving@ualberta.ca

4 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1

H A V E Y O U M E T . . .


T T ?

On July 1st, 2021, Dr. Diane Kunyk stepped up to lead one of the top

nursing faculties in the world as Acting Dean of Nursing for a twoyear

term. Under her guidance — and as she notes, with the support

of the strong leadership team — the Faculty of Nursing will continue

to advance world-class research and teaching; reaffirm the

importance of equity, diversity, inclusion, and indigeneity strategies;

and draw attention to everyday ethical practices and interactions.

We sat down with Dr. Kunyk to discuss her new role, her nursing

journey, and her vision for the Faculty of Nursing:

Can you tell us about the focus of your research program?

I am interested in the applied aspects of ethics, particularly

relational ethics, as it relates to the health and well-being of

employees. How can we mitigate the moral suffering induced in the

workplace? Or by our colleagues? My research goals are to translate

my findings in ways that provide practical solutions for improving

ethical action.

What is your favourite course to teach?

Not surprisingly, INTD 570 (Healthcare Ethics) and INTD 670

(Research Ethics). I am passionate about the content of these

courses and truly value interdisciplinary learning at the graduate


If you were enrolling in one course, program or degree right now,

what would it be?

I valued every opportunity to take courses from other faculties as an

undergraduate, masters, and doctoral student. These gave me

important insights into my research and teaching. Going forward, I

want to take more courses in art, music, history, and languages.

What’s on your radar for your first year as acting dean?

The changes we have experienced this last year have been

unprecedented. We have learned new skills, deepened our

resiliency, and advanced our work. This is the optimal time to

evaluate our experiences and to determine when continuing with

remote activities makes sense for meeting our strategic priorities —

and when it does not.

There is great potential for deepening existing and developing new,

interdisciplinary learning and research activities in the new College

of Health Sciences.

5 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1

Photographer: John Ulan

Similarly, sharing and collaborating some global and EDI activities

at the College level makes sense. I see these as tremendous

opportunities for our students and faculty alike.

The Faculty of Nursing is outstanding on any measurement scale. I

am incredibly proud of our accomplishments and strive to continue

and advance these positive metrics. There is much for me to learn!

H A V E Y O U M E T . . .

S H A N N O N S C O T T ?

Dr. Shannon Scott is a well-known and highly valued member of the

nursing community, and she brings a wealth of experience with the Faculty

of Nursing to the position of Acting Vice Dean, effective July 1st, 2021, for

a two-year term.

Below, Dr. Scott shares her favourite memory at the U of A, her favourite

place on campus, and her vision for the future:

What is your first memory at the U of A?

Since the time of being an undergraduate student at the University of

Manitoba, I was impressed with the world-class research reputation at the

University of Alberta. As a result, I moved to Edmonton in 1999 (with a

newborn baby) to do my PhD at the University of Alberta. I remember

being blown away by the size of the graduate programs in the Faculty of

Nursing - this was back when we were still in the Clinical Sciences


What’s something that people might be surprised to learn about you?

I am a country girl through and through. I grew up on a small farm in rural

Manitoba where my family still resides. My rural upbringing has shaped

much of my nursing career, from working in the Outreach Program as a

new RN at the Manitoba Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation (now

CancerCare Manitoba) to researching the experiences of rural families

with a child with cancer in my Masters thesis to being a co-founding

Director of Translating Emergency Knowledge for Kids (TREKK) - a

national initiative that aims to ensure that Canadian children irrespective

of where they live get high-quality emergency care.

Where is your favourite place on campus?

I live close to campus so I am always walking or biking on campus in

the evenings. Before the pandemic, while I did love frequenting

Starbucks in ECHA, I would have to say right now my favourite place on

campus is watching the restoration of the Dent/Pharm building. The

transformation of this iconic building has been incredible to watch.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Stay true to your values, work hard, be sure to have fun but don’t worry

so much.

What is the biggest strength or opportunity that you see for the

faculty over the next two years?

Photo: Supplied

Our student body, our faculty members and our staff are our

biggest strengths. I am looking forward to working hard to create

a supportive environment where everyone can thrive.

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University of Alberta experts in engineering, nursing and

neurology have teamed up with an Edmonton-based data

analytics company to develop and test tiny biosensors

for foot wounds in people living with diabetes, with the

aim of improving treatment and preventing the 1,100

lower limb amputations that occur each year in Alberta.

7 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1 Photo: Supplied

The goal is to treat foot

wounds as early as possible

so they can be treated more

easily and effectively, says

Simon Palfreyman, an

assistant professor in the

Faculty of Nursing.

(Photo: Ryan Whitefield)

W o r d s b y G i l l i a n R u t h e r f o r d

It was sparked by a chance


Simon Palfreyman and Manisha Gupta

got to talking about their research after

a meeting. He’s an expert in wound care

and she’s a leader in making biosensors

that can be attached to the skin to

monitor things like temperature or the

presence of germs.

Palfreyman, an assistant professor in

the Faculty of Nursing, expressed

frustration that despite the best efforts

of health-care teams, more than a

thousand Albertans a year lose their

lower limbs to amputation due to

complications from foot ulcers in people

living with diabetes.

And that’s when inspiration struck:

Could the tiny sensors that Gupta’s team

in the Faculty of Engineering has

developed be used to detect and treat

foot wounds before they get bad enough

to require amputation?

8 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1

Gupta and Palfreyman reached out to

Douglas Zochodne, a neurologist and

neuroscientist in the Faculty of Medicine

& Dentistry, who has expertise on the

nerve damage that makes these specific

foot wounds dangerous. And a new

team was born.

Early intervention is


The goal of their new joint project is to

develop and test a new sensor that can

be embedded in a wound dressing or

used like a swab to analyze the wound.

The sensor will measure up to four

variables—likely electrolytes,

temperature, pressure and glucose

levels—so that clinicians can monitor

progress, detect complications and

determine precise treatments.

“The main thrust is customized

medicine tailored for each patient,” said


The idea is to get there early when wounds

are less complicated and cheaper and easier

to treat, rather than when the wound is

enlarged and not healing, and issues such

as infection are already established,” said

Palfreyman. “Urgent medical intervention is

needed with these foot wounds because

they can deteriorate quite quickly.”

Zochodne explained that diabetes causes

nerve damage known as diabetic

polyneuropathy, which means some people

may injure their skin or develop a severe

ulcer without realizing it. The lack of nerves

also slows healing.

“Treating these wounds is like working at

the back of a cave with no lights on,” said

Zochodne, who is director of the

Neuroscience & Mental Health Institute and

divisional director of neurology.

“We don’t know the basic biochemistry of

what’s going on in these wounds and why

they don’t heal, so this enabling technology

that Dr. Gupta has developed has fantastic


Device could help those in remote areas

Alberta Health Services’ Diabetes Foot Care Clinical Pathway

recommends regular foot screening for the estimated one in

four Albertans living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. More than

half of people living with diabetes will develop polyneuropathy

and 15 to 20 per cent will develop foot ulcers. Outcomes are

often poor—approximately three of four patients will die within

five years of a lower limb amputation, according to Diabetes

Educators Calgary.

Existing technology does not allow for localized

measurements within wounds, Gupta said. “The novelty of this

is we’re going to monitor multiple parameters within the real

wound environment.

Gupta’s team has already developed biosensors to measure

pressure, glucose and ion levels. The transistor-based sensors

are 3-D printed using biocompatible materials such as gold

and organic semiconductors that work well in an aqueous

environment and will not be rejected by the body’s immune

system. The sensors can be as small as ten microns, about

one-seventh the width of a human hair.

The new sensors for foot wounds in people living with

diabetes will be developed and tested on diabetic animals,

and later, on human volunteers. The team is working with an

industry partner, Clinysis EMR, a local data analytics


“The main thrust is

customized medicine

tailored for each patient.”

— Manisha Gupta

Gupta envisions also developing an app that would allow

patients to monitor their own wound sensors. Palfreyman said

the system could be particularly valuable for people living in

remote communities who do not have access to in-person

clinical care.

The project was recently granted $250,000 through the Kaye

Competition, a partnership between the University Hospital

Foundation, the University of Alberta Hospital and the Kaye

Edmonton Clinic.

9 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1

Six years later, it is now standard practice for patients from

Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute who have had autologous

transplants (using stem cells from their own bone marrow or

blood) to take part in cardiac rehabilitation, thanks to a

partnership with the Jim Pattison Centre for Heart Health within

the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute.

“We are the first to report not just the physical benefits but

psychological benefits of supportive rehabilitation in a very

high-risk cancer population,” said Pituskin.

“No such program exists anywhere else,” she noted. “This is

something that can change and improve people’s lives.”

A double whammy for the heart

More than 50,000 people around the world receive a stem cell

transplant each year. They face an increased risk of future heart

problems due not only to chemotherapy and radiation that can

be toxic to the heart, but also to being bedridden for weeks

following the transplant.

“We explain to patients, what we’re giving you is a chemo

attack, not a heart attack, enough that it will damage your

heart,” said Nanette Cox-Kennett, nurse practitioner and

autologous transplant program lead at the Cross Cancer

Institute. “To speed recovery and keep you healthy, we know

that exercise is beneficial.”

Patient fitness—including grip strength, gait speed, how long it

takes to get out of a chair (“timed up and go”) and how far they

can walk in six minutes—is assessed before transplant, after

transplant, at the outset of the rehab program and after

completion. The patients do eight weeks of supervised

moderate aerobic activities and resistance training, and also

attend classes about cardiac health topics such as diet, stress

and weight management.

Statistically significant improvements were found in grip

strength, gait speed and the six-minute walk test for the first 30

patients, the researchers reported in a 2018 paper published in

the Canadian Journal of Cardiology. Their attendance was 57

per cent, a number that can be as low as 30 per cent for regular

cardiac rehab patients. Ten of the patients were also

interviewed for a followup paper, which will soon be published

in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and


“Overall, we found this program helped patients cope during the

recovery period,” said first author and nurse practitioner Derek

Rothe, who developed the project for his master’s thesis. “It

gave them goals to set, and motivation to get more active and

regain their functional status.”

Three themes emerged from the patient interviews, Rothe said.

For most of the patients, immediate recovery from their

transplant was more of a motivator than their risk of future

heart disease. Those who had been previously active made the

rehab program a priority. And observing the initial loss of

fitness following transplant and then the tangible improvements

during rehab motivated them to keep going.

Patients in the study reported how much they appreciated the

support and encouragement of the rehab program staff, a

multidisciplinary team of exercise physiologists, dietitians,

social workers, pharmacists, nurses and cardiologists.

“They were outstanding,” said Guenard. “Their positive attitude

was infectious.”

Exercise as medicine

The research was supported by the Jim Pattison Foundation

and the University Hospital Foundation, and was made possible

by trainee awards for Rothe from the Elaine Antoniuk Graduate

Nursing Scholarship, Maurice and Edna Minton Endowment

Fund, Aplastic Anemia and Myelodysplasia Association of

Canada Scholarship, Canadian Nurses Foundation, Liz Lemire

Memorial Scholarship, Alberta Registered Nurses Education

Trust and the Dean’s Discretionary Fund at the U of A. Cox-

Kennett also received the Maurice and Edna Endowment Fund in

2004 when doing her master’s thesis. Pituskin is a member of

the Women’s and Children’s Health Research Institute.

Pituskin said the next step will be to follow patients long-term

to track their cardiac health outcomes. She also wants to offer

the rehab program to an even higher-risk group of cancer

transplant patients: those who receive stem cells from donors

(allogeneic), as they face higher doses of chemotherapy and

longer hospital stays.

“We are hoping to develop a pre-hab program so they can

receive careful exercise advice that’s personalized to them

while they are waiting for transplant,” explained Pituskin, who is

also a member of the Cancer Research Institute of Northern


As for Guenard, the former bush pilot, shop teacher and

McDonald’s restaurant franchisee usually enjoys cycling and

kayaking in Florida each winter. He got his commercial pilot’s

licence back, took up sailing, and over the COVID winter he

rebuilt the exercise room in his Peace River home.

“When you get this kind of diagnosis, and they tell you you’ll

have a bad heart on top of it all, it would be very easy to go

home and feel sorry for yourself and give up,” he said.

“I refuse to let it slow me down, so I run my life as though I’m

going to live for a hundred years.”

1 1 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1














— D R . E D I T H P I T U S K I N

A r e y o u i n t e r e s t e d i n c o n t r i b u t i n g t o i m p o r t a n t

r e s e a r c h l i k e D r . P i t u s k i n ' s ? P l e a s e c o n t a c t

n u g i v i n g @ u a l b e r t a . c a t o l e a r n h o w .








Pronouns are a matter of life or death for Keith

King, a registered nurse who identifies as twospirit

and Métis.

“When I greet a new patient I’ll say, ‘Hi, my

name’s Keith, I’m a registered nurse and my

pronouns are he/him. What can I do for you

today?’” King said. “And that just sets the

stage for the conversation in case that is an


That simple introduction has led some young

patients who came in for routine medical care

to open up about their gender dysphoria, King

said, so he could direct them to the right

medical and mental health supports.

A few have come back later to tell him it

literally saved their lives.

“If that door was just open for every one

of them, it could make a huge difference

in how long people struggle,” King said.

Seemingly small changes can

make a big difference

King, an assistant teaching professor in

the Faculty of Nursing, is also

completing his PhD and works in sexual

and mental health clinics in Edmonton.

Words by: Gillian Rutherford

Photos by: John Ulan









1 3 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1

“I always knew I was a healer—I became a nurse, my mum’s a

nurse, my grandmother was a nurse,” King said. “Accepting that

my gender and my sexuality are a part of that role was a really

transformative moment in my personal experience.”

Here are some of King’s top tips for health-care professionals

and others to use when looking to be inclusive:

Five tips for healthcare



“A prime example would be assuming that someone is straight

and asking them about their wife or girlfriend, husband or

boyfriend, while taking their medical history,” King said. “Or

assuming that I have HIV because I have sex with men.

“That’s not OK.”


While Alberta Health Services has inclusive, patient-focused

guidelines for health-care providers, it can sometimes be hard to

adopt new practices, King said.

“I try to explain it from a relational lens, to build empathy,” King

explained. “How much does it cost you to change your language?

What might it cost the person who is misgendered? How might it

affect their health?”

“Usually for health-care professionals, when they realize that the

patient may not access care or may delay care, it helps the ball to


King has practised nursing in Australia, Great Britain and other

parts of Canada, but it was through exploring his Indigenous culture

at home in Alberta that he found his true calling, and he feels a

responsibility to share what he has learned with future healers.

“It was life-saving knowledge to learn from Elders about other

genders that have always been present and acceptable in my

culture,” said King, who is an Alberta Indigenous Mentorship in

Health Innovation Network mentee.

“Sometimes for trans folks, their medical record may not match

their gender identity,” King said. “A frank, kind and

compassionate conversation is much better than using

incorrect pronouns, or subjecting the patient to unnecessary

tests or examinations to try and determine their gender.”



“It's about being open and giving patients permission to initiate

those conversations on their own,” King noted.

“I sometimes struggle when someone uses they/them, because

it’s hard to break those language patterns, so I just use their

name,” King said. “It helps me to not make that mistake.”



“We all make mistakes; it’s very human,” King said. “Quietly and

quickly apologize and try not to do it again.”



“If you’re a cis-gendered heterosexual person, and you’re super

comfortable and you’ve thought about that position that you

occupy, it opens an opportunity to imagine how someone in a

different position might experience the world.

1 4 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1


Photos by WCHRI



University of Alberta post-doctoral fellow James Benoit is tapping into

his training in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and digital

technologies to create the first mobile health app targeting acute

childhood illness for parents using Canadian-relevant research in

children’s health.

Digital health tools, such as mobile phone apps, offer a unique

opportunity for readily accessible, evidence-based information for

those seeking medical advice.

Benoit — Faculty of Nursing and Department of Pediatrics

Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF) — says there are different needs for how

digital health information is communicated, and this is especially true

for the diverse population of Canadian parents.

“Apps offer a uniquely accessible, scalable, and untapped solution for

giving parents access to high-quality, actionable health information

about their sick child,” explains Benoit, whose 2020 Postdoctoral

Fellow Award is funded by the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation

through the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI).

Dr. Benoit’s post-doctoral fellowship is jointly funded and supervised by

the Faculty of Nursing and the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry — an

interdisciplinary effort to learn more about and co-develop high-quality

evidence-based health resources for diverse groups of parents.

We spoke with Dr. Benoit about his passion for working at the

intersection of technology and health and his view on the potential power

digital health tools hold to empower Canadian parents with the bestavailable

health resources.

How did your educational background prepare you for this project?

I did undergraduate training in honours integrated science at UBC,

focusing on behavioural neuroscience. My thesis explored whether

cognitive effort — the experience of effortful thinking — could be

reproduced in an animal model. I went on to do a Master’s in applied

ethics at UBC; this work focused on whether video games cause

aggression in children, and consequently, whether violent video game

sales to minors should be regulated. After working in sustainability

technology at Simon Fraser University,

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I moved to Edmonton to start my doctorate at the U of A in

Psychiatry (graduating in 2019), where I worked on using

machine learning in personalized and precision medicine to

predict whether or not a patient’s depression would be

improved by treatment.

Can you explain more in-depth what your mobile health

app for parents entails?

This project — designed by Drs. Shannon Scott and Lisa

Hartling after five years of collaboration through their CIHR

Foundation Grant and funding through their Stollery

Science Lab Distinguished Researcher Awards — entails

making the first mobile health app for parents using

Canadian-relevant research about children’s acute illness.

To use the app, parents will verbally tell the app their

child’s symptoms (barky cough, runny nose, crying, etc.),

and this description will be matched to the correct health

resource using speech recognition. Health information will

be presented as a set of health resources (e.g. videos,

infographics) in the app.

These are based on best-available research evidence,

co-developed with Canadian parents and healthcare

professionals to ensure they resonate with parents.

Data from this app will help us build a picture of how

parents find and act on health information in apps,

and how parental identity (e.g. gender, race, and age)

influences app use and health decisions. These

insights will let us iteratively improve our app as we

gather more data.

How did you become involved in this

interdisciplinary project?

In a funny turn of events, Drs. Scott and Hartling

contacted me after reading a profile of my work from

a previous postdoctoral position on the Department

of Pediatrics website. They were interested in

improving health information access by integrating a

machine learning approach with their work in

pediatric knowledge translation and evidence

synthesis. I thought their idea was a prudent, highly

novel application of AI that addressed a very

frustrating aspect of family healthcare for many

parents: accessing reliable pediatric health

information on-demand. We began discussing how a

project like this would look, and ended up agreeing

that a postdoctoral fellowship would be the best way

to work together developing these tools.

Stollery Science

Lab Distinguished

Researchers Drs.

Lisa Hartling (L) &

Shannon Scott(R)

Photo: WCHRI

1 6 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1

strength | pg.3

How have Drs. Shannon Scott and Lisa

Hartling mentored and prepared you for your


Drs. Scott and Hartling have been preparing

me to pursue an academic tenure-track

career, and a key part of that has been

mentoring me through the early career

planning process. This involves connecting

me to other postdoctoral fellows who have

shared their experiences, guiding me through

the process of developing a research

program, and sharing opportunities for

professional development. Drs. Scott and Dr.

Hartling have also shared lessons learned

from their own careers developing a

nationally recognized research program.

How does it feel to work with an

interdisciplinary team? Is this something

you have a lot of experience with?

Working with an interdisciplinary team is

always a pleasure, and one of the reasons I

enjoy working in a field at the intersection of

medicine and technology; working on these

teams has been my norm on digital health


Interdisciplinary work benefits from multiple

perspectives: when we are building an app

for parents, we will involve team members

with expertise ranging from clinical

experience, to qualitative methods, to

computing science, to knowledge

translation. I think that as we negotiate the

path toward cohort-based, and eventually

fully personalized medicine, these teams will

drive innovative digital health projects


What does receiving the WCHRI PDF Award

mean to you? How will this award advance

your project?

I was honoured to receive a WCHRI PDF

award, and hope our work will contribute

meaningfully to improving children's health.

This award will support our work leading

innovative approaches to knowledge

translation, and importantly, developing an

app with high-quality evidence-based content

in children's health. My goal in pursuing this

research with Drs. Scott and Hartling is to

learn the processes they have used to

consistently create nationally-awarded, highquality

evidence-based knowledge

translation tools in children's health. I hope

to contribute to this field myself by

embedding and evaluating the effectiveness

of these tools in a highly accessible

platform for parents.

What impact do you hope this project makes

once completed?

By working with parents to co-create an app

that embodies these values, we hope to

contribute a useful tool to their digital care

options in the near future. In the long-term,

we hope that by pioneering this work, we will

establish a well-defined process for cocreating

health apps with parents.

Canadian parents deserve

information for their

child’s health that is

trusted, practical, and

accessible. — James Benoit

Any plans for the future?

I would like to expand the scope of this work

to examine how else we might augment

knowledge translation with machine learning

to improve children’s health. Apps have

provided a useful tool for health researchers,

and I would like to expand our ability to

simultaneously provide high-quality

information and capture how parents

integrate this knowledge with health

decisions for their children.

Interested in learning more? A joint effort between the

Alberta Research Centre for Health Evidence (ARCHE)

and Evidence in Child Health to Enhance Outcomes

(ECHO) research programs develop free health resources

based on the latest research to help families and

caregivers care for their sick children. These evidencebased

knowledge translation tools are available online,

at https://echokt.ca/tools.

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A University of Alberta nursing researcher is tackling a

paradox that affects not only the mental health of healthcare

providers, but also the quality of patient care they

deliver during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Susan Sommerfeldt, assistant professor in the Faculty of

Nursing, has received funding from the Social Sciences and

Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for two

projects in partnership with Covenant Health, a Catholic

health-care provider that runs hospitals and care centres

throughout Alberta.

“Health-care workers are quick to encourage people to take

care of themselves and have strategies to deal with stress,

but they’re not always good at doing it themselves,”

Sommerfeldt noted.

“Ultimately this paradox has ramifications for patients in

the delivery of health care,” she said. “It is grounded in how

people work together and how they organize their work.”

“We want to create a care environment where people can

thrive and really fulfil their calling,” said Kerry McKinstry,

manager of organizational development for Covenant

Health, who is co-investigator on one of the projects. “The

health and safety of our patients and residents is at the

centre of everything we do.”

Supporting mental health conversations

One project involves offering mindfulness training to all

Covenant Health staff, and the other is an arts-based film

project to document stories of coping through the pandemic.

Both projects aim to promote conversations about mental


“If somebody needs a break from the physical challenges of

the job, such as masking, wearing personal protective

equipment or facing the imminent threat of breathing in a virus,

that’s understood,” she said.

1 8 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1

“But if somebody needs a break from the stress of their

workplace, it’s like you can't handle this—it’s an

interesting reality of health-care work.”

“This sends signals back to your brain that there’s no

imminent danger, that you can manage whatever is


Sommerfeldt is an expert in how workplace culture

affects health-care delivery. Her research program is

called TRAction, which stands for “Team Relationships

in Action.”

Promoting psychological safety

Covenant Health has a strong culture of compassion

for both staff and patients, and welcomed the

opportunity to get involved with the research,

Sommerfeldt said, noting that SSHRC supports work to

Documenting resilience

The documentary film will include interviews from

volunteers, front-line care workers and supply chain

staff to illustrate how human and non-human factors

shaped their experiences of working during COVID-19.

“Hearing it from people who lived it and breathed it

over the entire time will be much more impactful than

general media reports,” McKinstry said. “What parts of

our workplace culture were sources of strength and

what else could we have done as an organization to

have made this a better experience?”

translate academic findings into real-world applications

as quickly as possible.

The 15,000 staff who work at Covenant Health will be

offered mindfulness programs from MindWellU, one of

the private companies that has been tapped by the

federal government to provide online training through its

Wellness Together Canada initiative in response to the

COVID-19 mental health crisis.

“Redeployment of staff, stigma during hospital

outbreaks on a unit, implications of using infectious

disease precautions such as social distancing and

wearing a mask while trying to give care, the moral

tensions of deciding if you go to work with post-nasal

drip when you’re pretty sure it’s not COVID—all these

social factors became materialized in relation to this

non-human actor, the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Sommerfeldt


A key technique is known as “pause” practice. “Pause

allows you to gather your thoughts, do a few breathing

exercises, do some of the imagery work that can

produce the physiological changes that come with

dropping blood pressure,” Sommerfeldt said.

Sommerfeldt said she hopes to look at the stumbles as

well as the triumphs, to help overcome the stigma of

mental health issues in health-care workplaces.

“We must acknowledge that vulnerability is not a

weakness but an avenue to growth.”

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Words by Gillian Rutherford

Photo by John Ulan

Did you know that heart attack and stroke

are the number one cause of premature

death for women in Canada? Or that

Canadian women are five times more

likely to die of heart disease than breast

cancer? Or that 53 per cent of women who

have heart attack symptoms go

undiagnosed when they seek medical


“If you ask Canadian women what they are

afraid of, they will say breast cancer,” said

Colleen Norris, professor in the Faculty of

Nursing and chair of the health systems

and policy working group of the Canadian

Women's Heart Health Alliance.

2 0 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1

Norris pointed out that while women have

worse outcomes from heart disease than

men, two-thirds of cardiovascular research

is focused on male study subjects. That’s

why she recently led a project to review all

of the existing evidence about women’s

risk factors, disease awareness,

presentation, diagnosis and treatment in

the Canadian Women’s Heart Health

Alliance ATLAS.

“We can’t move forward unless we know

where the gaps are,” said Norris, who is

also a member of the Women and

Children’s Health Research Institute.

Recognizing the signs of heart

disease in women

Norris has just begun a new research

project of her own tracking the number

of women who present at emergency

departments with signs of heart attack

or stroke and are sent home without

being diagnosed. She said her initial

research found that between 2010 and

2020, 300 women per year were

discharged this way from Alberta

hospitals, only to return with a fullblown

heart attack within 30 days.

“These numbers are just horrendous,” she

said. “And they don’t include the women who

died at home.”

She said the signs of heart disease may be

different for women than men. Instead of the

“Hollywood heart attack” symptom of extreme

chest pain, women may experience only chest

discomfort, sweating, nausea, shortness of

breath or light-headedness.

“The big message is that it’s not in your head

—no matter what age you are, you are just as

likely to have heart issues as men,” Norris


A heart health passport could help

Norris said the Canadian Women’s Heart

Health Alliance is building education modules

for medical and nursing students, so they can

identify and overcome the biases that may

lead to them missing the signs of heart

disease in women patients.

She also proposes developing a “heart health

passport,” which would list a woman’s medical

history as it relates to her heart, so she could

discuss prevention with her doctor.

“Women who have had prenatal complications

such as gestational diabetes, hypertension,

pre-eclampsia or protein in their urine are at

significantly higher risk to develop early heart

disease,” Norris said. “Getting pregnant is the

first stress test you will have—it really taxes

your vascular system.”

“Identifying women at risk early in their lives

means that it may be possible to alter that

risk,” she said.

Norris said recent research has also

uncovered that women are more likely than

men to have microvascular disease in the tiny

vessels underneath the main heart vessels,

which can’t be detected with current scans.

“We don’t yet know how to diagnose it or how

to treat it effectively.”

Arming women with information,

good questions

Norris said that along with biological risk

factors, women are also affected by barriers

related to their gender roles.

For example, while there is a general trend

for people with heart disease symptoms to

delay going to hospital during the COVID-19

pandemic, women are even less likely to

seek treatment.

“They are busy as front-line workers and

caregivers, and they delay going to hospital

for their heart symptoms because they’re

afraid of getting COVID,” she said. “But they

also don’t want to bother emergency staff

who are dealing with the pandemic—women

don’t want to bother others.”

In other U of A-based research, it was found

that women may not seek treatment or follow

up with prescribed rehabilitation because

they feel embarrassed that they became ill.

“The word on the street is if you eat properly

and exercise enough and take care of your

stress, you won’t get it,” she said.

“The big message is that it’s

not in your head—no matter

what age you are, you are just

as likely to have heart issues

as men. — Colleen Norris

Norris said the solution is to ensure public

health messages show women how they can

improve their health, rather than making

them feel guilty.

She advises women who do go to emergency

for heart disease symptoms to ask the

following questions before they leave:

What do my blood pressure,

electrocardiogram (ECG) and other test

results show?

What are my risk factors for heart


Where can I follow up if I have questions

about my heart?

What should I do when I feel symptoms


“We can give you the tools to be strong and

advocate for yourself,” Norris said.

2 1 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1

In 2021, it's important that we

recognize the needs of those

with intersectional identities

in our spaces and constantly

remain teachable.





Words by Allie Voisin

Photo: Supplied

University of Alberta Faculty of Nursing alumna Asmaa Ali, 23,

is celebrated in the 10th annual Alberta Council for Global

Cooperation 2021 Top 30 Under 30 for her unwavering

dedication to fostering health equity for vulnerable


Growing up in Edmonton, Alberta, as a Muslim and firstgeneration

Somali-Canadian born to refugee parents, Ali

experienced firsthand the challenges minority populations

face in accessing healthcare.

“I have spent a lot of time navigating the healthcare system

with family members. We faced many unique challenges that

continued to go unaddressed, so I wanted to be a part of

fostering health equity for minority communities,” says Ali,

who graduated from the class of 2020 and currently works in

Cardiology Medicine.

The Top 30 Under 30 Award is an annual campaign by the

Alberta Council for Global Cooperation featuring 30

exceptional recipients for their inspiring work in “making the

world a more just, fair, and sustainable place for all.”

How do you foster health equity?

The best way to detect biases in healthcare and to mitigate

them is to be aware of the unconscious biases we hold

ourselves. Being blind to your own biases as a healthcare

provider means you are causing harm. I have interacted with

many healthcare providers who say that they treat every one

of their patients the same as a testament to their belief in

equality. Still, equity and equality are two very different things.

People have intersectional identities; data proves that women,

LGBTQ+ populations, Black communities, and immigrant

communities have worse health outcomes due to their unique

circumstances remaining unaddressed by health

professionals. Care providers that immediately ask for

pronouns, look up a patient's religious and cultural

sensitivities, and always ask questions are the ones who are

truly mitigating harm.

Treating people "the same" means skimming the surface, and

that's not enough. Being committed to health equity means

fostering justice by building care plans based on each

patient's unique needs.

In 2021, it's important that we recognize the needs of those

with intersectional identities in our spaces and constantly

remain teachable. Blanket statements, zero-tolerance policies,

and "everyone deserves the same" no longer cut it, especially

when we are responsible for public safety. Unlearning is the

key to fostering health equity and equity in all spaces.

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Isaiah Joy is a fourth-year Faculty of Nursing Collaborative Program student at

the University of Alberta and the Nursing Undergraduate Association's (NUA)

new president for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Joy pursued an education in nursing to unite his love for science with his desire

to help people whenever possible.

The NUA is a student-run organization that consists of nursing students who

are elected by their peers to volunteer their time and effort to represent the

Faculty of Nursing's undergraduate students and ensure that they have the best

experience possible.

The NUA provides academic advocacy, coordinates social events, addresses

issues and concerns that affect nursing students, and connects students to the

campus community, as well as the national body of nursing students through

the Canadian Nursing Students' Association (CNSA). It also acts to fulfill the

academic, social, and political needs of nursing students.

Below, Joy provides a glimpse into the academic year ahead.

What are your priorities as NUA president for the 2021-2022 academic year?

Develop partnership with Indigenous Nursing Students Association so

we’re able to provide meaningful and equitable discussion on and support

for each other’s initiatives

Apply for UASU grants and open new positions on NUA Council and

Student Advisory Council (SAC) to increase scholarship and volunteer

opportunities for nursing students

Host broader range of Q&As about relevant nursing student topics (ex. How to get jobs in healthcare, how to make the most of clinical

experiences) and mentorship initiatives to help nursing students of all years with receive guidance from older nursing students and/or recent

nursing graduates

Make standardized and transparent application process for subgroups so nursing students can more easily connect in meaningful,

extracurricular ways with their peers

Is there anything exciting undergraduate students should look forward to?

Students can look forward to the NUA making new initiatives and updating existing initiatives to be more inclusive (easier and more meaningful

opportunities for participation and recognition of accomplishments), accessible (technologically and physically), and relevant to their lives.

Fall 2021 will be like no other fall on campus before. How does the NUA plan to reconnect with graduate students on-campus?

We’ll do our best to provide options for both in person and online participation in all of our initiatives (within the rules given by UASU). And in

addition to more regularly posting to our social media, we’ll also launch a subscription-based email service so people can pick and choose which

NUA and SAC information is most relevant to them.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I’m proud of the NUA and SAC team we’ve assembled; they’re good people and hard workers. I’m looking forward to welcoming new members to

NUA and SAC and making this year the best it can be for everybody.

2 7 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1



Nick Adcock is a second-year Faculty of Nursing masters student (Leadership Stream)

with a focus on Nursing Informatics at the University of Alberta and the Nursing Graduate

Student Association's (NGSA) new president for the 2021-2022 academic year.

“Information is essential to care for clients and in a world where information is endless it

is important to be able to manage, access, and share the right information in a timely

manner,” explains Adcock, who is interested in pursuing more knowledge about the unique

intersection of nursing, technology, and the management of information.

The NGSA is the official voice for Faculty of Nursing graduate students at the University of

Alberta. It is composed of graduate students, both master's and PhD, who promote the

general welfare of nursing graduate students through social, recreational, cultural,

academic, and community-oriented endeavours.

Below, Adcock provides a glimpse into what to expect for the semester ahead.

What are your priorities as NGSA president for the 2021-2022 academic year?

Students will be returning to campus this semester and my priority this year is create an

online and in person environment that welcomes and encourages students, NGSA

members, faculty, and the executive team to participate and engage in fulfilling the NGSA

mandate of promoting the general welfare of students through social, cultural, academic,

and community-orientated endeavours. The NGSA has already received a few emails from

eager graduate students looking for information on how they can be a member and

participate in the NGSA this year and we are excited!

What are your priorities as NGSA president for the 2021-2022 academic year?

Students will be returning to campus this semester and my priority this year is create an online and in person environment that welcomes and

encourages students, NGSA members, faculty, and the executive team to participate and engage in fulfilling the NGSA mandate of promoting the

general welfare of students through social, cultural, academic, and community-orientated endeavours. The NGSA has already received a few emails

from eager graduate students looking for information on how they can be a member and participate in the NGSA this year and we are excited!

Is there anything exciting graduate students should look forward to?

That back to school crisp fall air excitement of endless learning opportunities and fresh minds to sponge it all up. Being able to take advantage of

learning and teaching with each other in the same room and connecting with other students and faculty members in person. I am most looking forward

to those after lecture thought provoking conversations with other students and faculty diving deeper into concepts that were just covered.

Fall 2021 will be like no other fall on campus before.

How does the NGSA plan to reconnect with graduate students on-campus?

This past summer the NGSA teamed up with the University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, and the Centre for Suicide Prevention to deliver a one

hour webinar promoting the Buddy Up Campaign which brings awareness to men’s suicide prevention. Last year we were able to engage with the

community by collecting warm winter wear for the Bissell Centre so that low-income community members were able to keep warm all winter long. We

also had virtual drop-in sessions where students could have one on one conversations with the NGSA team. These are just three examples of ways that

the NGSA would like to continue to engage the graduate students on campus this year. We are also looking for fresh new ideas so please feel free to


Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Please feel free to e-mail us with any questions and please stop by the NGSA office once we are all back to school. If you get a chance, please check

out and like/follow the NGSA facebook (@graduatenurses), Instagram (graduatenurses), and/or Twitter (@Graduate_Nurses).

The NGSA would love to hear from you! To become a general member or for other inquiries, please email the NGSA (nrsgsa@ualberta.ca) or any of the

Executive members.

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Albrecht, Elenore

Ambrose, Gwen

Anderson, Bonnie

Annear, Doris Helen

Antoniuk, Elaine Phyllis

Aziz, Karima

Baptie, Lois Amelia

Black, Trudie Laraine

Bothwell, Mary Elizabeth

Broen, Betty

Brunton, Sharon Elaine

Burkholder, Donna Carol

Bushko, Cecile June

Clancy, Isobel Evelyn

Clarke, Margaret

Cole, Joanne Eleanor

Cote, Marjorie Helen

Croteau, Kathleen Annabell

Culp, Mary Lorraine

Dahling, Miggi

Dobbie, Cathy Anne

Drozdiak, Anastasia

Dudley, Janis Irene

Duggan, Carol

Ford, Jean

Freelove, Yvonne Rose

Gagnon, Doreen Georgina

Greenwood, Donna Margaret

Henrie, Gilda Kathryn

Huff, Patricia

Knudsen, Charlene Martha

Kruhlak, Martha Helen

Kuzyk, Diane Alice

Leffers, Elizabeth

MacDonald, K Ann

MacDonell, Beth

Mace, Maxine

McDougall, Elizabeth Ann

McKenzie, Rosie Jean

McMillan, M Patricia

McNabb, Gailadawn

Meredith, Rhonda Lois

Milligan, Lois Verna

Minion, Marion Madeline

Mitchell, Helen

Phung, Nancy Zhilin

Rau, Suzanne Jane

Rich, D. Merle

Rozeboom, Virginia D

Sanden, Esther Labelle

Sawyer, Hazel Frances

Shaw, Jo-Anne Mary

Strivens, Craig

Trenchie, Donna Ann

Tronningsdal, Jeanie Shanks

Vasicek, Sheila Kay

Wall, Heather Leona

Weishoff, Millie G

Willans, Anne Leslie

Zeller, Ruth Theresa

3 0 U A L B E R T A | N U R S I N G F A L L 2 0 2 1

Faculty of Nursing

Level 3, Edmonton Clinic Health Academy

11405 87 Avenue, University of Alberta

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 1C9


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