Sept. 19, 2019

Nursing graduate student translates passion into action with entrepreneurial spirit

50 Faces of Nursing: Suzanna Crawford, BN’13, BSc’11

Motivated by a desire to build community support for families affected by disability, Suzanna Crawford combines her entrepreneurial spirit and her graduate education to fill the gap she noted as a RN with the Psychiatric Emergency Services team at the Alberta Children's Hospital and through her extensive experience working with people with disabilities in the community as a support worker.

“I answered a call-to-action,” says Crawford, “and in 2016, co-founded ENABLE, a social enterprise that matches people with disabilities to support workers.” 

Crawford is proud of ENABLE’s success in offering families much-needed respite and young people with disabilities opportunities to build social and life skills. “Since we started, our workers have provided families with over 12,000 hours of support where and when they need it.”

Crawford’s personal success moves at a similar pace to that of her business: full speed ahead. She is actively involved with the Haskayne School of Business’s Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and in various funding, incubator and collision spaces across Alberta.

In 2017, she joined the Board of Directors with Calgary Quest School which serves 150 students with moderate to severe disabilities. To reward her efforts, Crawford received the Scholarship for Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the Faculty of Graduate Studies three times. In 2018, she was named UCalgary’s Women's Resource Centre Distinguished Graduate Student and has been awarded eight Faculty of Nursing awards since starting her graduate program.

Crawford is nearing completion of her MN degree and says her most memorable university experiences would be working with her mentors.

“In particular, my graduate advisor, (UCalgary Nursing associate professor) Dr. Andrew Estefan (PhD), has made all of the difference in my success through my graduate program, allowing me to balance my other passions. He reminds me of how far I have come and humbles me when I think of how far I have yet to go.”

Crawford stresses the importance of mentorship for all students and new nurses. “Find a mentor - in nursing or not in nursing - it does not matter!” she says. “Having mentorship from a leader that you respect will assist you to create a vision and work out the steps to get there.”

And Crawford encourages nurses to be the change they want to see in the health system. “If you see a gap in practice, change it; don't stand idly, frustrated. Know that change comes about when we look at problems differently. Use your mentor to help you come up with solutions.

"If you cannot get the resources and support within your workplace to meet the needs of your patients, then innovate! Flex your hard-earned nursing skills to develop practices that better meet the needs of the patients and families that we serve.”

Following that passion has definitely worked for her and for the community as a whole.

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

"I am most excited about the continued transfusion of innovation in health care."

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

"Given my experience, I am passionate about embedding a greater knowledge among health-care professionals about the lives of families affected by disability. I also truly believe that the next big movements in health care will sprout from innovation. After all, this is how nursing was founded!"

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

"My laptop, a graduate student and entrepreneur's best friend! I carry it like a security blanket, enabling me to squeeze in even the smallest amount of work anytime, anywhere. Although my husband tells me all the time, I realized recently how attached I was to it. It was during a trip to Central America earlier this year when my laptop fell victim to the humidity. I was heartbroken, routinely propping it against the air conditioner and checking on it every few hours. Fortunately, after a few days, that beautiful sound of a Macbook starting up rang through the air! Thank goodness!"

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