Oct. 29, 2019

Clinical program director believes in enabling patients to engage in their own care

50 Faces of Nursing: Sue Conroy, MN’97

Sue Conroy has tackled some challenging roles over the span of her exciting 36-year nursing career as she took on clinical and leadership roles across three provinces and many service areas. But one that stands out as especially demanding and rewarding was as chief operating officer with the British Columbia Ambulance Service.

“My role was to provide strategic direction and effectively lead the operational team through some significant organizational transformation in a provincial environment that was highly dynamic and evolving,” explains Conroy.

“There were many challenges and hurdles. However, we were committed and driven by knowing the changes we were implementing would have a very positive impact on service delivery and improving the quality of patient care.”

Conroy has worked in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia across a scope of areas including emergency departments, intensive care, trauma services, ambulatory care, Emergency Medical Services and quality and health-care improvement.

In her current role as Senior Provincial Director, Provincial Clinical Programs at Alberta Health Services, she leads a range of provincial clinical programs, including: Health Link, Poison & Drug Information Service (PADIS), Referral Access Advice Placement Information and Destination (RAAPID), Respiratory Equipment & Services Program, Interpretation & Translation Services and the Provincial Insulin Pump Therapy Program.

“What really excites me in my current work is the breadth and diversity of programs, the opportunity to address growing patient care needs by leveraging these programs through innovative approaches and collaborative partnerships, and the passion and commitment demonstrated by the leaders and teams and how they make a difference in the lives of patients and families every day.”

50 Faces of Nursing: Sue Conroy, MN’97

Sue Conroy, MN’97 is Senior Provincial Director, Provincial Clinical Programs, AHS.

What’s an unforgettable experience from your time at UCalgary Nursing?

“I enrolled into the Master of Nursing program (administration focus) in 1993 and graduated in 1997. I was working full time and completed the program over four years as a part-time student. My interest was administration and I was fortunate the graduate nursing program expanded from being primarily a clinical focus to also include administration and education streams.

“It was through the tremendous guidance and support of the faculty that I was able to participate in courses offered through the Faculty of Management (now Haskayne School of Business). Health care in Alberta was undergoing significant change at the time and I chose to focus my learning on ‘change and transition.’ The UCalgary graduate nursing program helped me to think differently, expanded my perspective and was the catalyst for what's become ‘lifelong learning.’ At the time, I was able to apply the advanced learning directly to my work environment and was much more prepared to be able to help lead my teams, my colleagues and myself to adapt and thrive through the changes we were undergoing at the time.”

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

“I am passionate about enabling patients to be engaged in their own care, to be able to make well-informed decisions about their health and health care and to take action to support those decisions.”

“An effective way to help patients be more involved in their health is through the use of a patient portal, where individuals can interact electronically with their health-care team and gain access to their personal health information. Patient portals have the ability to increase patient involvement in their care and lead to more positive experiences and health outcomes.

“Albertans now have access to a provincial patient portal and nurses can have a pivotal role in informing, encouraging and supporting patients in using the portal.”

What advice would you like to share with aspiring nurses?

“Enjoy what you do! Figure out what you're passionate about and how you would like to make a difference and then pursue a role that enables you to do that.

“I think it's important for aspiring nurses to be aware that there are so many ways and opportunities they can make an impactful difference in the life of others — at the individual patient level or at the broader system level. There are numerous facets of nursing practice and there are endless paths and opportunities for nurses to apply their advanced knowledge, skills, diverse experiences and leadership. Enjoy what you do and you will make a difference!”

All through 2019, we'll be highlighting 50 Faces of Nursing and profiling nursing members in celebration of our 50th anniversary. If you know someone noteworthy (faculty, staff, alum, students, partners, etc.) who you would like us to feature, tell us more with this short online form. For more, visit nursing.ucalgary.ca/50