April 8, 2019

UCalgary nursing alumna shows pride in heritage

50 Faces of Nursing: Joy Bliss, BN’85

Joy Bliss is a clinical adjunct faculty member with the School of Nursing at Chaminade University of Honolulu. She teaches two courses, Nursing Care of the Maternal Newborn Family and Nursing Care of Children and Family, and works out of the Tripler Army Medical Center, the largest military hospital in the Asian and Pacific Rim region.

Joy and a colleague are currently focused on grant applications to help fund a documentary about Hawaiian ties with Indigenous populations in Canada.

What motivates your work and research?
“The work I do with the various cultures that I encounter through my students’ cultural backgrounds and the various patient cultures drives me to understand my own roots. It also fosters understanding and community impact for the nurses that I help train.”

What’s an unforgettable experience from your time at UCalgary Nursing?
”The most memorable experience was the mentoring I received from my faculty professor and advisor Dr. Evelyn Guillemin at UCalgary in 1985. She was instrumental in mentoring me in the research and presentation of a conceptual model of the Sibling Program: Concept to Reality. I presented this paper at the International Conference of Nursing in 1985 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

“Her support, compassion, empathy and academic advice will forever remain with me. It was particularly meaningful because it was offered during a very difficult time in my life. I continue to emulate her in all of my student interactions and try to guide and mentor my students as she did me. I would like to acknowledge her significance as a mentor, professor and continued friend.”

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

“What excites me about the future of nursing is the changing and increasing role and development of graduates of nursing in primary care in the community, especially for underserved populations.

"Hawaii encompasses numerous cultures and communities where the preparation of student nurses, throughout our four-year program, assists them in returning to their island communities and cultures to become nurse leaders in primary care.”

Is there a nursing issue you are passionate about or would like to change?
“I was the faculty of record for the first international clinical immersion of senior nursing students to Chuuk, Micronesia. This course is a final clinical intensive course for senior students based on preceptorship models and cohort models at primary care facilities.

“Not only did this clinical experience broaden all of our understanding of post-nuclear testing and its effects on the environment and community (60 years later) but also gave the students experience in current treatment of infectious diseases rarely seen in society, such as leprosy and resistant strains of tuberculosis.

“The students were also involved in rural immunization programs through UNICEF. Common diseases encountered there, such as diabetes, often were untreated and resulted in amputations and extensive wound-healing problems rarely seen in our society. Violence in the community was another challenge and impacted high-risk pregnancy results often leading to Caesarean sections. Effective teaching for depression in these instances was a part of postpartum care.

“These experiences served to ignite my passion to create effective communication and cultural understanding, and to develop partnerships in Federally Qualified Health Care Centers as well as Native Hawaiian Health Care Centers on all the Hawaiian Islands.”

What's your advice for aspiring nurses?

“Embrace your cultural roots. I did not find out until I was 40 years old that I had First Nations heritage. I immediately sought to learn more about my history, my people and what role I could play in my aboriginal community.

"Aspiring nurses should strive to share their cultures and traditions within their community to bring pride to their people and communities.”

All through 2019, we'll be highlighting 50 Faces of Nursing and profiling outstanding 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