July 22, 2020

UCalgary Nursing dean reflects on 2020 with hope and clarity

2020 Year of the Nurse and the Midwife: Dr. Sandra Davidson, Dean, UCalgary Nursing
Dean of UCalgary Nursing
Sandra Davidson, Dean of UCalgary Nursing

In January of 2019, the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the first ever “Year of the Nurse and the Midwife,” in honour of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

UCalgary Nursing will be celebrating the year with a variety of activities including a monthly series of reflections on the past and future of nursing and health care from our nursing community.

For Dr. Sandra Davidson, The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife took a turn she hadn’t envisioned. As dean of UCalgary Nursing, she says there were faculty, colleagues and nursing students to consider amid a new global health crisis. And so a new vision would be imagined – and in Davidson’s way, it would be cast in a positive light.

When asked how she would like The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife designation to draw attention to the nursing profession, she wrote, “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted our profession in a profound way!”

“Through this pandemic, we have rediscovered what is essential and what is not. Nursing is essential. Universal health care is essential." 

Through this crisis, it has highlighted that nurses don't quit. Nurses are resilient problem-solvers that always find a way to deliver.

What is the legacy of Florence Nightingale to the next generation of nurses?
“She understood and used evidence-informed practice before it was a thing. I'd say her legacy is using research findings to inform clinical decisions and health-care delivery.”

What is nursing’s next big idea?
“EntrepreNursing, and nurses as innovators of health.”

Highlight one challenging condition nurses face.
“Attending to our own mental health and wellness. Sometimes we are so busy looking after the health and wellness of others, it's easy to forget we have needs, too!

“In helping others, nurses often witness trauma and experience vicarious trauma. We need to acknowledge this and find ways to effectively deal with and process it so we can maintain our own well-being. Developing habits for self-care and resilience-building are essential nursing skills that we can purposefully teach the next generation of nurses so that they don't just survive, but can thrive throughout their careers!”

What’s one thing most people don’t know about nurses or one stereotype you’re often correcting?
“Nurses are everywhere and work in very diverse roles. Nurses do not just work at the 'bedside.' Nurses work in research, education, policy, non-profits, government, businesses and community. When I first took on my role as the dean, someone asked me if I was a 'real nurse.' You bet I am!”

Boosting leadership and influence is one key message from the WHO. What leadership qualities do you think you bring to the profession?
“Creativity. Positivity. Humility. Good humour.”

Describe a career highlight.
“Early in my career, I read the book Quantum Leadership: Advancing Innovation, Transforming Health Care by Tim Porter-O'Grady and Kathy Malloch. The ideas were life-changing for me, professionally and personally. Years later, I got the chance to work with them to design and deliver the Masters of Healthcare Innovation Degree at Arizona State University. To this day, we continue to work and collaborate together and it's a joy that they've become dear friends and colleagues!”

What would a world without nurses look like, in a few words?
“Post-apocalyptic chaos.”

Set one goal. Right now, for 2020.
“To send at least one note of appreciation, thanks or acknowledgement to someone in my life every day.”

On Aug. 20, Davidson will be presenting her talk "The Year of the Nurse & Midwife and Beyond: Charting the future of the nursing profession" at a virtual Breakfast Lecture Series. Registration will open July 28 at nursing.ucalgary.ca/breakfast-series.