26 March 2013

Spring and winter on same day; must be Canada!

EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada—I am used to leaving the United Kingdom in cold weather and stepping out of the Sydney airport terminal into the middle of Australia’s summer, but I have never been in glorious spring one day only to be in the dead of winter later the same day—and still be in the same country.

Canada is massive, and my visit to the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta in Edmonton took me through Vancouver, British Columbia, for a weekend of running, coastal walks and sitting outside with my family, watching the sun go down. After a one-hour-and-10-minute flight and one hour forward on the clock, I am now in Edmonton, and it has taken two men working all day—one with a small snowplough/digger machine, the other with a dumper truck—to clear the hotel car park. And it’s cold!

I am visiting the University of Alberta as an international visiting scholar for a few days. My visit was organised by Wendy Duggleby, PhD, RN, and Kathleen Hunter, PhD, RN, NP, GNC(C), NCA, and I have had the chance to meet a co-author of mine, Alex Clark, PhD, RN, for the first time as well as a host of other people, including Carole Estabrooks, PhD, RN, FCAHS, FAAN, who serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

The time here is busy, with two intensive days of lecturing and leading sessions with students and staff. I was able to present some of the latest work on assessment and alleviation of feeding difficulty in older people with dementia in the Geriatric Grand Round at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton. In addition to the audience of more than 50 people, the presentation was linked to 45 other telehealth centres in Canada. The question-and-answer session was stimulating, and encouraging. Later, I met Susan Slaughter, PhD, RN, GNC(C), together with other members of the chronicity research group, to hear about her seminal research into the causes of feeding difficulty in dementia. I was unaware of this work, and it was a lesson to me to take more time—like I used to—to scan the literature in my field of research.

My lectures were on the emergence of new methods of scholarship through social networking, and on mentorship and career development. I am not sure that everyone was convinced about the social networking, so that talk may need more development. The highlight of my time here, undoubtedly, was meeting the Master of Nursing students, who had sent me, in advance, a challenging series of questions. They covered almost everything, from my decision to enter nursing to my latest ideas for research as well as a lot in between about getting published and the future of doctoral education for nurses.

A final dinner with colleagues impressed on me that academic nursing in Canada suffers many of the same prejudices that it does in the United Kingdom. At least, I realised, we are not alone. I introduced the phrase, used against university-educated nurses in the UK, “too posh to wash,” which folk here had not heard. I hope they keep it to themselves, as I would not like that phrase to become part of the anti-university educated nurse lexicon in Canada. If it does, then blame me. My final morning here will be spent planning some future work with Alex Clark, who is as dedicated as I am to Twitter and can be followed on @alexclark1944.

In addition to meeting my family and undertaking this highly enjoyable visit to Edmonton, I came across a new Canadian “Indie pop” band called Dear Rouge, comprised of Drew McTaggart and his highly photogenic and talented wife Danielle, backed up by some excellent musicians, including Andrew Stewart. They are currently touring Canada and are well worth exploring on YouTube. Quite possibly, you heard that here first.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

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