Nov. 14, 2019

Instructor Emerita was a graduate of UCalgary’s first Master of Nursing class

50 Faces of Nursing: Judith Hanson, BN’79, MN’83
Judith Hanson, is one of the 50 Faces of Nursing at the University of Calgary
Judith Hanson

Judy Hanson describes her nursing career as having two signature themes: teaching and leadership. She may want to add mentorship to that list; Hanson’s talent for working with people and supporting nurses in their personal and professional pursuits has not gone unnoticed.

Colleague Mary Bennett says Hanson has successfully mentored many nurses, both as a clinical instructor at UCalgary Nursing and in leadership and administrative positions with the former Calgary Health Region. Although Hanson’s education began in Saskatchewan, she would go on to complete three degrees at UCalgary and dedicate the greater part of her career to the nursing community in Calgary.

“Judy has volunteered hundreds of hours towards alumni functions, the Alberta Association of Registered Nurses and faculty events,” says Bennett.

“Judy is truly an inspiration for students and nurses early in their careers as well as those in established nursing careers. Her commitment, energy and sense of humour are respectfully admired by those who have the pleasure to work with her.”

Hanson began her career as an assistant head nurse in surgery. She taught a variety of specialties, including many undergraduate nursing courses at UCalgary, and later worked in the diabetic clinic at Foothills Hospital before advancing to the position of coordinator of medical nursing.

Hanson held a variety of senior leadership positions with the Calgary Health Region, such as director of patient care with medical inpatient and home care programs, director of nursing with medical and surgical inpatients, and medical nursing coordinator with medical and surgical programs.

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

“There are more wonderful moments and memories than I can count! I always felt at home in the Faculty of Nursing, and I deeply enjoyed the collegial and inclusive environment that brought students, faculty, community members and hospital staff together to enrich nursing education.

“I'll share a funny story, though. During my graduate studies, my six fellow classmates and I decided to dress up as the Blues Brothers for Halloween. We'll never forget the look on Dr. Sandra Reilly's face when she came into the classroom and saw us waiting for her, decked out in hats, sunglasses, and ties. We had also brought in a carved pumpkin, which was glowing in the dark classroom — bending the university rules that forbade all candles and open flames.”

Judith Hanson with her Nursing N289 class

Judith Hanson with Nursing N289 class in 2018 at Confederation Park

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

I believe that the role of nursing will be increasingly focused on assisting both families and individuals to reach their own, personal health goals.

"There will be a growing need for education, research, leadership, and managing diverse sites where nursing is practiced. I also believe that nurse practitioners will continue to play a larger, more significant role in the health and nursing communities.”

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

“I am passionate about supporting older adults as they navigate a new life stage with unique challenges and opportunities. There's a growing need for creative and innovative approaches to support and care for seniors in our communities. This is an issue that I'm currently exploring through my work with not-for-profit health care boards.”

What advice would you like to share with aspiring nurses?

As a nurse, strive to listen and be truly present in each client and patient experience. This approach will enable you to be compassionate and respectful throughout your career. While this advice might sound straightforward, it's an approach that we all must continue to pursue and consistently reflect upon.”

Is there one luxury in life you’d rather not live without?

My family, my nursing friends, and a chilled glass of prosecco.”

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

Sandra Reilly Master of Nursing Class

First class of Master of Nursing students as "Blues Brothers" in class with Sandra Reilly in 1982.

Courtesy of Sandra Reilly.