This year was my third year as president of CARNA, and I have the good fortune to have been president during part of CARNA’s centennial year. And what a remarkable year it was!
Nursing students unleashed their creativity in a multi-media competition; 100 inspiring nurses, nominated by their peers, received a Centennial Nursing Award; our spring conference highlighted the achievements of nursing past, present and future; and – perhaps my favourite activity - a historical display toured throughout Alberta all summer. I was privileged to host a number of the tour events. Everywhere we went, I heard RNs and NPs speak about their pride in our profession and our contribution to the people of Alberta for the past 100 years. The tour generated visibility with the public and positive responses from members.
One thing history teaches us is that change is constant. Last year, we were proud of the way Albertans met the challenges of the devastating Slave Lake and Fort McMurray fires. Heroic efforts were made by many people, including the nurses and other staff at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre. They put aside their own fears during the crisis to evacuate more than 100 patients from the hospital - in less than two hours.
We have also seen, and responded to, significant legislative changes such as medical assistance in dying, NP prescribing of controlled drugs and substances, and, hopefully, the final steps in having our new RN regulations passed.
At CARNA, another change was CARNA CEO Mary-Anne Robinson’s decision to leave the organization. We are grateful to Mary-Anne for her vision and tireless efforts on behalf of CARNA and its stakeholders, both locally and at the national and international levels, for the past 10 years. Provincial Council has initiated a CEO recruitment process and we hope to have a new CEO early in 2017. Director of Corporate Services Jeanette Machtemes has been appointed Acting CEO in the interim.
CARNA has changed as an organization in other ways. I now see greater emphasis on collaboration--for example, we collaborated with UNA on a joint advertising campaign this year to increase visibility of RN contributions. One of my proudest moments was to be the first CARNA president invited to speak at the UNA annual general meeting. I also see that we are engaging with members in new and exciting ways: tthousands of you participated in our online consultations on flu immunization, the Uniquely RN® project and medical assistance in dying.
Provincial Council’s approach to advocacy has also evolved. Councillors have continued to develop relationships with their local MLAs and educated them on the actual and potential contributions of our profession to primary health care for Albertans. I have focused on working with senior government officials, municipal leaders and community groups across the province—always with a clear focus on how the knowledge, skills and expertise of Alberta’s RNs and NPs can best serve the public interest. These decision-makers need to understand that RNs and NPs are a key answer to the challenge of providing cost-effective, comprehensive primary health care in all settings, particularly in the community. Care that results in excellent patient outcomes. Changes to our regulations, including RN prescribing and ordering of diagnostic tests, will augment the contributions we can make as a profession. You may be tired of hearing about these regulation changes – we have been working on them for years – but we are very hopeful that government will place a priority of having them approved this year.
Our centennial was a pivotal year for RNs and NPs in our province. For 100 years, nurses have been leaders, advocating for high-quality care for their patients and families, for a health system that uses the full potential of team-based care and for ways to run the health-care system more effectively. It is up to us to “be the change we want to see,” going confidently into a future that will see unimaginable changes in the way we approach health-care delivery, the technologies that will revolutionize the way we work and related to our patients and the continued explosion of knowledge about human health. I look forward to seeing what we will achieve together in the next 100 years.
President 2013 - 2016