Sept. 9, 2021

Three alumni nurses bring their global health perspectives home

Arsheen Dhalla BN’10, Masira Baloch BN’10 and Jacqueline Wilson BN'18 are UCalgary Nursing's 2021 Marguerite Schumacher Memorial Alumni Lecture speakers
Arsheen Dhalla, Masira Baloch, Jacqueline Wilson
From left, Arsheen Dhalla, Masira Baloch, Jacqueline Wilson

As the world continues to grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s never been more apparent that global health is inseparable from local health. The idea of 'Think globally, act locally’ is a concept that, applied to public health, means we must all enact a more compassionate and thoughtful understanding of the health of our neighbours and society, at large. That shifting perspective can help health-care practitioners — particularly nurses — be more influential as leaders in their own backyard.   

On Saturday, Oct. 2, three internationally experienced registered nurses will explore these themes as part of panel called ‘Bringing Global Health Home’ for the 2021 Marguerite Schumacher Memorial Alumni Lecture. The online webinar will take place 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. MST. 

Panel speakers include Arsheen Dhalla, BN’10, Jacqueline Wilson, BN’18 and Masira Baloch, BN’10. Each alumni nurse will reflect on what they have learned working away from home and how it has helped them adapt to where — and how — they work now.  

The panel will be moderated by Heather Bensler, BN’97, an instructor and global health lead at UCalgary Nursing. Bensler is an alumna whose career path has taken her from global health in South America to obstetrics and nursing education in Canada. In her role as global health lead, Bensler helps to create international@home clinical placements. 

“I always tell my students that you don’t need to stick to a standard path,” says Bensler. “The unconventional routes that sometimes present themselves can lead you in a very satisfying direction in your career.” 

Heather Bensler BN'97

Heather Bensler BN'97 will be the emcee and moderator for this panel event.

Wilson is a PhD student at UCalgary Nursing. She’s worked in urban hospitals in Whitehorse, Yukon to Uganda where she studied global perinatal health as a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholar. 

“My advice to anyone who wants to work or volunteer internationally/remotely in these challenging global times would be to reach out to the stakeholders who are actively involved in that area to determine what key needs and priorities they have identified based on their lived experience there,” she says.  

“Networking, collaboration, and contributions from young leaders working together has the potential to make more sustainable change and impact.” 

For Dhalla, building bridges is a key tenet behind her non-profit foundation and charity Daraja Foundation, a Canadian and Tanzanian charity focused on supporting and empowering women and youth in Zanzibar based in East Africa. 

“Metaphorically, we aim to bridge people around the world and build foundation, support livelihood and create opportunity in the lives of children and youth in Zanzibar,” says Dhalla. who received a UCalgary Arch Award for her work in 2016.  

For anyone considering global health opportunities, Dhalla says it's important to "take care of yourself and embrace the opportunity."

"Wherever you end up, global challenges will exist, whether in your home country or on another continent. So the best thing you can do is take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally, do your best, don't let great opportunities pass you by and remember, we are all in this together."

Baloch is currently a critical care ER nurse at Peter Lougheed Centre and a humanitarian nurse with Doctors Without Borders. 

“I have learned how community involvement, trust and capacity building between stakeholders and beneficiaries directly affect outcomes,” she says. “I was fortunate to witness the large picture of an operation as well as the small steps that are necessary to run any project.”  

Baloch has worked as a registered nurse in four countries and provided remote nursing services to Indigenous communities through Health Canada at Fox Lake in Alberta.  

She adds, “I feel very proud: nursing is one of the best professions out there. I will always be a proud nurse until my last day.” 

Her word of advice to any nurses considering work or volunteer away from home is to “Apply, research, take a leap of faith and just do it!  

“You will fail sometimes, most of the time or all of the time, but get right back up and keep applying, keep knocking doors of those places or companies or organizations you want to work or volunteer with.” 

Arsheen Dhalla, BN'10

This UCalgary Nursing lecture is an annual event held by UCalgary Nursing in memory of Marguerite Schumacher, the first dean of the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary. The event celebrates inspirational UCalgary Nursing alumni leaders and will be presented this year as part of the Alumni All-Access program. 

Registration is currently open to everyone at