Nov. 27, 2019

Nursing professor proud to highlight accomplishments of others

50 Faces of Nursing: Karen Benzies
50 Faces of Nursing: Dr. Karen Benzies
50 Faces of Nursing: Dr. Karen Benzies

UCalgary Nursing associate dean (research) and professor Dr. Karen Benzies says her belief in the development of graduate students, faculty and staff is her constant motivation and is driven by the desire to make the world a better place for future generations. And judging by the accolades she regularly receives from her students and co-workers, she is doing just that.

Her world-class research into the development of children and the importance of the parent-child relationship has garnered her millions of dollars in grants and numerous awards; her partnerships with clinical and community organizations like the Calgary Urban Projects Society and Alberta Health Services recognize her leadership.

But to her team in the Nursing Research Office, she still has time to be “one of the smartest, kindest and most generous people we know.” Despite her tireless work schedule, Benzies is described by students and her staff as being “considerate, flexible and a great mentor.”

What's a memorable experience you had at UCalgary Nursing and why it's significant in your life or career?

"As associate dean, my role is to support UCalgary Nursing graduate students and faculty to increase their research productivity. Among the 19 research-intensive schools of nursing in Canada, UCalgary was ranked 7th; in 2018 we were ranked 5th and this ranking holds for 2019. These rankings, although not a perfect metric, provide strong evidence that research support of our graduate students and faculty is paying off in a way that is recognized across Canada. This recognition is both reward and motivation for my position as associate dean (research).

My role includes highlighting nurses for awards for excellence. My most memorable experience at UCalgary Nursing occurred in 2018 when four Alberta nursing leaders were recognized at the Canadian Nurses Association Order of Merit Ceremony. There are only six awards given every second year and with the support of adjunct faculty and the Nursing Research Office staff, four of six nominations were awarded to Alberta nursing leaders."

What most excites you about the future of nursing or changes coming in the profession?

"The growing recognition of nurses' power and influence with individuals and the health-care system. As nurses recognize their power, they are seeking each other’s expertise in new collaborations that build capacity for a strong nursing voice in an accessible and sustainable health-care system."

Is there a nursing issue you are especially passionate about or you would like to change?

"What worries me about nursing is that, in the current context, it is easy for nurses to ‘get stuck’ in traditional ways of knowing and doing. In an increasingly complex and dynamic society, the discipline needs to be curious about why things are the way they are, and whether or not the 'status quo' is actually working to improve outcomes. In nursing, we need to refocus on helping each other to challenge the 'status quo' and be open to supporting the changes that need to happen to improve outcomes."

What piece of advice would you like to share with aspiring nurses?

"The most important piece of advice I can share with aspiring nurses is: to understand the core of nursing is to holistically care for individuals, their families and communities.

Nurses must be curious about why individuals, families and communities are resilient and thriving, or not. With understanding comes the opportunity to build truly meaningful relationships and engagement that will result in sustainable changes in health."

Is there one luxury in life you would rather not live without?

"Nespresso coffee maker."

All through 2019, we'll be highlighting 50 Faces of Nursing and profiling nursing members in celebration of our 50th anniversary. For more, visit