Sept. 9, 2019

Former CARNA president dedicates her life’s work to protections for the vulnerable

50 Faces of Nursing: Dianne Dyer, BN’76, MN’93
50 Faces of Nursing: Dianne Dyer, BN’76, MN’93
Dianne Dyer BN’76, MN’93

Challenges associated with vulnerable populations, the opioid crisis, substance use and reducing stigma and barriers to treatment for those experiencing addiction are some of the important issues Dianne Dyer routinely takes on as a lead on provincial projects, policy and strategy.

“My passion is nursing leadership and excellence, harm reduction and support for vulnerable populations,” says Dyer. “It is my honour and privilege to work with experienced professionals and people with lived experiences that are dedicated to this work, and to improving the lives of marginalized people.”

As an experienced RN with expertise in trauma care, emergency and public health, Dyer has a background that encompasses staff nursing and leadership in many practice settings including lead for provincial nursing regulatory affairs.

A past president of CARNA (College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta), Dyer believes strongly in the registered nursing profession and its duty to make a difference in society. She has been recognized for her immense impact on the evolution of trauma care in Canada through research and trauma system accreditation.

Dianne Dyer, BN’76, MN’93, is one of the 50 Faces of Nursing at the University of Calgary, Nursing Faculty

Dianne Dyer graduated in 1976 as Dianne Margaret Kershaw.

Tell us about a memorable experience you had at UCalgary Nursing and its significance in your life or career.

In June 2014, I was selected as the distinguished graduate for UCalgary Alumni. At the graduation ceremonies, I was honoured to join the UCalgary leadership on the stage and provide the graduates with their graduation certificates and congratulate them on their achievements. This was truly an honour and privilege.

“In September 2016, I was fortunate to help organize a reunion of my undergraduate class from 1976 to celebrate 40 years of nursing. We were a class of 40 students, and 28 people from across Canada and the world travelled to Calgary for this event. We had the chance to share our nursing career and personal stories. Our class was honoured at the Marguerite Schumacher event.”

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

“Registered nurses are being recognized for their important roles in leadership of the teams in hospitals, community, in research and education. I think many RNs are just starting to acknowledge that their role and expertise is essential to ensure safe competent care in all settings.

“In addition, RNs will assume a greater presence in the future in their local communities, in political action and advocacy for effective change in the health-care system. For example, RN prescribing is a new initiative and supports RNs to assume unique vital roles that support patients and families in both urban settings and remote communities.

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

“People that face the challenges of addiction often experience detrimental stigma and judgment from leaders, nursing staff, physicians and others in the health-care system and the community. Registered nurses should assume a leadership role to advocate for change and teach others about harm reduction, social determinants of health, compassion and ways to reduce or eliminate stigma.

“Our code of ethics expects that we treat all patients with respect and dignity regardless of their circumstances or the decisions that they make. This is an important opportunity to lead and make a difference for vulnerable people that need our professional expertise, caring and kindness. Small acts of kindness, words of support and our commitment can change lives and make a significant difference.

Dianne Dyer, BN’76, MN’93, 50 Faces of Nursing

Dyer, as then CARNA president, helped to present Diamond Jubilee medals to six Alberta RNs in 2013.

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

In my career, I have had many rewarding experiences from emergency to public health to trauma care to my recent opioid crisis project work. The registered nursing profession is rich with wonderful opportunities. Explore new work experiences when you can; it is so worth it. If you love what you do, you will benefit yourself and your patients.

“My move to the world of addictions has been one of the best choices and experiences in my career. I am inspired every day by passionate, dedicated staff and physicians and patients that are so incredibly resilient and facing challenges we can hardly imagine. Your nursing career journey ahead will be truly wonderful; venture out and see what inspires you.”

One luxury in life you’d rather not live without?

“The one luxury I cannot live without is my wonderful family. My two daughters are both RNs and I am so proud of them. One has worked in the OR and now in a day clinic and the other works in acute cardiology. My youngest son is a school teacher and teaches music and Grades 1 to 6 as assigned. My oldest son is an animator and has won awards for his work with the National Film Board. He will be teaching at the Alberta College of Art and Design this fall. I have two beautiful granddaughters and one on the way. My husband has been there for me throughout my journey and his support has been beyond amazing. He is an executive in finance with AHS and I am so proud of him. My family support is my luxury and I am inspired every day by their love, kindness and support for what I do.”

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