March 12, 2020

Nurse and educator tirelessly supported advances in nursing throughout her 50-year career

2020 Year of the Nurse and Midwife: Lorraine Watson, BN’79, MEd’82, PhD
Lorraine Watson and Arlene Johnston, UCalgary Nursing alumni executive
Lorraine Watson and Arlene Johnston.

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.

In her 50 admirable years as an RN and nurse educator, Lorraine Watson (whose 1991 PhD is from the University of Arizona) helped spearhead advances in nursing practice and took great pride in her responsibilities as an instructor of aspiring nurses, noting both roles as career high points.

“I valued my role in preparing nurses to enter the nursing profession and in so doing I had the distinct privilege of working with some incredible individuals that have gone on to become leaders and change makers.”

The UCalgary associate professor emerita (pictured above left with Arlene Johnston) approached her work with a creative mind, often thinking in a new way and finding inventive solutions as she designed protocols for patient care or prepared nurses to become educators. She revised a baccalaureate curriculum, negotiated nursing practice experiences and created a simulation practice lab, all with an aptitude for innovation.

What is the legacy of Florence Nightingale to the next generation of nurses?
“Her legacy is a powerful guide for the next generation of nurses to forge ahead to make necessary changes in health-care delivery. Her visionary thinking about public health and sanitation are critical in today’s world as we continue to face ever emerging breakouts of new viruses.

“Also of critical importance was her compassion and care for ill patients and her innate ability to use statistics and documentation in her quest for change.”

What’s one thing most people don’t know about nurses or one stereotype you’re often correcting?
“People are confused by the many ‘levels of nurses.’ Registered nurses need to be more distinct amongst the myriad of health-care workers that call themselves nurses. Wearing a name tag or pin somewhere on one’s uniform is not the answer!”

The presence of an RN needs to be heard and felt by those individuals within their care.

Highlight one challenging condition nurses face.
“In Alberta, I feel the voice of nurse leaders is not being heard: it is being stifled by the current economic business model and consequently the quality of patient care is suffering. In this environment nurses are not able to implement nursing care reflective of their full scope of practice.”