June 5, 2019

UCalgary senator a role model for well-being and leadership in nurses

50 Faces of Nursing: Catherine Pryce, MN'93

Over her 40-year nursing career, Catherine Pryce has focused on positively impacting the well-being of diverse populations. She worked in acute care settings, public health and addiction and mental health and emergency medicine before retiring in 2015.

Currently, Pryce is a member of the University of Calgary Senate, promoting advanced education and advocating for nursing across the university and with the broader community. She points to her graduate studies at UCalgary Nursing as integral to her professional trajectory.

“The single most important career decision I made was to return to university to complete my Master of Nursing at the University of Calgary in 1991,” she says. “That allowed me to assume senior administrative positions in the Calgary Health Region and Alberta Health Services (AHS) to work to continuously improve health care in the province.”

For AHS and its predecessor, Calgary Health Region, Pryce provided strategic leadership to diverse teams of clinicians in the development, design and implementation of provincial priorities and quality improvement programs.

In 2013, she led the psychosocial recovery efforts following the flooding in southern Alberta. In May 2016, she lead the planning for appropriate psychosocial plans and services to be in place for those impacted by wildfires in Northern Alberta as incident commander for the Addiction and Mental Health Emergency Coordination Centre at Alberta Health – a role she temporarily left retirement for three months to assume.

Kome Odoko, Master of Nursing thesis-based graduate student, who nominated Pryce says they first met through the Graduate Student Association’s mentorship program in 2017.

Even after the formal mentorship ended, they continued to stay in touch and Odoko says Pryce has been a key supporter with her research, “meeting to strategize, talk about all the amazing holiday adventures she has and discuss all the ways mental health services can better serve our populations.

“She embodies all the values that our faculty works to uphold such as respect, excellence and leadership,” says Odoko. “She has shown me that I have the ability and the responsibility of developing my nursing practice because it impacts the next generation of nurses. She balances senate activities and mentorship opportunities with time with her family and travelling, which I really admire. It models the balance that is required for nurses to develop and sustain positive well-being.”

What’s a memorable experience you had at UCalgary Nursing?

“In the first year of my graduate degree, our nursing class made a conscious decision to work to support one another through the program. That support was made tangible when classmates would bring your attention to an article that might help you in a paper you were writing, or offer assistance to a colleague that was new to Canada. Or provide moral support and encouragement when life's circumstances became difficult, as happened to me when my husband was laid off six weeks after I started the program. This spirit of support has endured, and our class has had several reunions, which are well attended. That experience sparked my commitment to celebrate and promote nurses whenever the opportunity presents itself.”

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

“I am currently mentoring two nursing students: one undergraduate and one graduate student. I am excited by their passion for helping people, their interest in improving our health-care system to better meet the needs of the population and their openness to creating new solutions. The people entering nursing and those assuming leadership roles excite me and leave me feeling optimistic!”

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

“It would be nursing leadership - how can we best support nurses in school, and then in the workplace to develop their talents and skills? What professional development should be offered and how can we tailor that to meet individual needs and the needs of the health-care team?”

What advice do you have for aspiring nurses?

“The nursing profession is one filled with opportunities. Some are likely apparent today, but others will present themselves as the landscape changes and you grow as a nurse. Be open to new ideas, new roles and new choices.”

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

“A good book and a glass of white wine!”

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