Category Archives: British Columbia

After 10 Years, What’s Next for Nurse Practitioners? by Mark Schultz, NP

The introduction of Nurse Practitioners in B.C has just recently passed the 10 year mark. Throughout this past decade, we have had some notable successes in NP integration – some large, some small. We’re finally starting to see general acknowledgment by the Ministry of Health, the health authorities, and even some of our medical colleagues, that nurses with advanced practice education and the appropriate resources to support them can be quite useful in keeping our population healthy.

Shortly after arriving in the rural community where I’ve been practicing the last couple of years, I remember seeing an unstable patient who needed to be evaluated at the local emergency department. Based on my training, as a provider sending someone to the emergency department, it is good practice to call and give a verbal report if the receiving provider is available. On this occasion, the receiving provider was an ER physician who, before I could explain the patient’s issues, cut me off and demanded to speak to my “attending physician.” I explained I was in solo practice, didn’t have an “attending physician,” and was the patient’s primary care provider.

This was not the answer he was looking for. Further discussion culminated in me suggesting he keep me honest by calling the CRNBC to verify nurse practitioners could practice independently. I’m happy to report that a year later, this medical colleague was sending difficult patients with multiple co-morbidities to my practice for primary care in the community. This marks a small, but for me, vital example of the daily evolution of professional recognition.

The NP4BC funding initiative is an example of a larger success. Prior to this initiative, we were losing highly (and expensively) trained B.C. nurse practitioners to other provinces and the US. I was one of those NPs who was forced to seek licensure elsewhere because prior to NP4BC, there were very few NP jobs, despite a significant healthcare provider shortage. The funding helped to get NPs into the field. This in turn allowed communities and healthcare systems to experience advanced practice nursing with good results. Some health authorities are now beginning to fund some NP positions out of their operating budget. I see this as an extremely positive development and an acknowledgment of our value across diverse practice environments.

For a number of years NPs were footballs in a game of “funding chicken.” Health authorities wouldn’t hire NPs unless funding was provided by the Ministry, and the Ministry suggested to the health authorities that if they wanted NPs they could use their multibillion-dollar (but fully utilized) budgets to hire as many NPs as they wanted. We seem to have moved past this logjam, at least for the time being, as an appreciation for the solutions that advanced practice nursing can bring to the table has become more apparent. The long-term solution to advanced practice nurse funding involves inclusion of NP funding in all current relevant streams of healthcare provider funding. I think at some point, NPs are going to have to participate in MSP.

Now I know some of my esteemed colleagues disagree, but if there’s a provider funding stream, I believe nurse practitioners should be included in it.

We’re in a time of huge change in healthcare. I’ve always enjoyed the evolutionary concept of punctuated equilibrium. Yes, evolution can take place over long periods of time, but then there are those exceptional periods in the fossil record where change comes incredibly quickly. I don’t know what the healthcare system will look like in 10 years, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to look a lot different than it does now. I’m looking forward to being part of helping nursing unlock its inherent healing powers to meet the evolving demands of our patients, our medical colleagues, and our healthcare system. I enjoy being at the ground zero of change. I have come to believe that dealing gracefully with change is now a core competency for being a nurse.

I got a call the other day from a forward thinking nurse who is working with some forward thinking medical colleagues. She was wondering if they might be able to improve outcomes by including a nurse practitioner on their team in a role not traditionally performed by nurses. In thinking about the Triple Aim- improving population health, cost sustainability, and creating patient- centered care, advanced practice nursing has a lot to offer. These are the kind of discussions I love. I look forward to being part of nursing continuing to evolve towards new healthcare solutions.


Mark has been practicing as a nurse since 2003. He received his Master of Nursing, Nurse Practitioner degree at the University of British Columbia in 2006. Since then, he has been an active member of the BC Nurse Practitioner Association, where he has developed a strong interest in health and nursing policy issues. Mark has practiced as a nurse practitioner in several areas including in-patient cardiology at Vancouver General Hospital, orthopedic reconstruction at UBC Hospital, primary care at the Comox Valley Nursing Center, and urgent/emergent care at Oceanside Health Center in Parksville and Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock Alaska.

President’s Message: Looking Forward, by Zak Matieschyn, BSN, MN, RN, NP(Family)

I am honoured to write my first President’s Message to the registered nurses and nurse practitioners of British Columbia who have entrusted me to lead the Association over the next two years. I look forward to the challenge ahead with excitement at the potential that exists for the Association and nursing to make transformative changes in the healthcare system, the nursing profession and the lives of individual RNs and NPs. The nurses of British Columbia have elected a diverse and strong group of directors who will lead our board and I am thrilled to work with them as we serve the nursing profession over the coming months.

I grew up in British Columbia and have been an RN in this province since 2000, working in a variety of settings including med/surg, ICU and emergency nursing in Victoria, Vancouver, and the Kootenays. For the past six years I have worked as an NP at a primary healthcare practice in Castlegar and I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to work directly with patients at every stage of their lives and provide for their primary healthcare needs.

Although my interests are diverse, a particular passion of mine is around the social determinants of health (e.g. housing, income, education, etc). This is an area that nursing has been aware of for decades, because we know that health is so much more than the absence of disease or making good lifestyle choices. Nursing needs to be at the forefront in offering an evidence-informed opinion when it comes to developing the health and social policy that will address the social determinants. And while governmental policy that seeks to improve these health determinants should be applauded, policy that worsens the health of British Columbians by negatively affecting these factors must be constructively critiqued. I look forward to applying my passion in this area to help strengthen the nursing response in addressing social determinants that impact our families and communities.

This is an important time for nursing, and for healthcare in British Columbia. Through the policy papers issued in March of this year, the provincial government and the Ministry of Health have signaled that the next few years will bring transformative change to our healthcare system – with a focus on patient-centred, team-based care and a move to revitalize primary and community care. These are areas in which nursing and nurses have extensive knowledge and expertise. The success of this transformative policy change is greatly dependent on the involvement of nursing throughout the process. I am pleased to say that the ARNBC is specifically named in these policy papers as a consultant and contributor to this process. I encourage any RN/NP interested in being involved in this exciting work to share your thoughts with us so we can bring your voice forward to government.

Join me in strengthening the nursing profession and nursing community. There are a multitude of opportunities to be engaged with your Association, your College and your Union. Let’s demonstrate the incredible knowledge and strength that this amazing profession brings to healthcare transformation. Together we can build positive, lasting change.


ZakZak’s interest in health and healing began at the early age of nine years old when he would carry a small first aid kit while playing with friends.  Since then, his passion for healthcare and health policy has been unwavering.  He was particularly inspired by concepts of family, community and societal health, as well as the social determinants of health during his undergraduate (BSN UVic, 2000), graduate work (MN UVic, 2008), and clinical experience in urban, rural and remote B.C. communities.

Zak has served on numerous boards and committees, including the BC Nurse Practitioner Association Executive and was the first Nurse Practitioner in B.C. to be invited to sit on a Division of Family Practice Board (Kootenay Boundary, 2010 – 2014).  Through this work he has gained valuable experience in member engagement, optimizing board governance, and relationship building among diverse stakeholders.  In his clinical practice, Zak has worked med/surg, emergency, intensive care, vascular access and outpost nursing.  After obtaining his NP education in 2008, he began a practice in a West Kootenay family clinic, providing primary healthcare to the general public with a focus on marginalized populations.

Nursing Day at the Legislature: Reflections from an RN and a Nursing Student, by Lisa Constable, RN and Jennifer Kanai

Reflections of an RN

As a Registered Nurse practicing for almost 30 years Nursing Day at the Legislature on May 13th 2015 was a personal and professional highlight of my career. I have always prided myself in being someone who steps beyond their own practice setting, diving into less familiar worlds. As a nurse interacting with patients/families for most of my career I have come face-to-face with issues associated with patient safety and satisfaction, access to services, clinical outcomes and health disparities. I have seen when and how the health care system is effective, or not, in meeting the needs of the public. So here I was spending a day in the legislature arena, eager to share my years of experience and motivated to find an opportunity to bring about change to the healthcare system itself by meeting with politicians in Victoria.

Legislature Day began with a discussion on nursing unity, followed by an open forum with Ministry of Health leadership. We then sat in the Legislature gallery for Question Period, which proved to be a thought provoking experience observing the democratic process and hearing member statements and greetings read by MLAs in celebration of Nursing. Afterwards, the five nursing associations hosted a well-attended open house for all MLAs and their leadership staff in the Legislature lounge. A frank discussion with the opposition’s health critic concluded the day.

The fifty nurse leaders present were articulate in their thoughts, clear in their intentions and passionate about the health of British Columbians. I walked away invigorated, empowered and energized to do more in the legislature arena. I felt we were heard by the MLAs who showed keen interest in what we had to say and the solutions we shared. I was proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with my nursing colleague leaders and even prouder to share this day with Jennifer Kanai who is the future of nursing and health care legislature advocacy.

Jennifer Kanai is an inspirational second year nursing student at Victoria’s Camosun College and my niece. I watched in pride as she confidently joined in and spoke to the different MLAs discussing issues and articulating her position. I believe by us sharing this day together Jennifer will have the potential to become a confident advocate; be comfortable with and have the capacity to politically influence health and health care throughout her career. I look forward to seeing her influence and change policy, laws and regulations that govern the larger health care system. Jennifer is my niece but even more importantly to all is Jennifer is the future of health care and in my eyes the future looks more than promising.

Reflections of a Nursing Student

When I first went to the Nursing Day at the Legislature, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I knew that there were five associations of nursing that would be present. It was a bit overwhelming to be a second year nursing student at the age of 21 in a large room with all of these very successful and amazing nurses; all who were incredible friendly, knowledgeable, and encouraging.

The part that stuck with me the most from this experience was going to the legislature building and having the MLAs come into the room with the nurses and having a discussion about health in the areas that they represent. They asked the nurses what their concerns were and if they had solutions. This was so incredible to watch because these MLA members were asking the nurses for advice and for their opinions; they recognized that nurses have a huge role in health care and are on the front line. By the end of the night I realized how amazing it was to have all five of the nursing associations working together and giving a strong voice to nurses. I understand that this is something that has just recently started, but it was so exciting to see this nursing coalition advocate for the health of the public.

As a student I found this to be an amazing and empowering experience. It made me more proud of my decision to go into nursing, and it may have sparked an interest for further down the road. It was great to see this other side of nursing in action, and the combination of politics and nursing together. I was very surprised that there were not more students there. I think that this is an experience that other students would benefit from; these nurses at the legislature day were working for change for the future of nursing and health care, and we students are the future of nursing. It really emphasized the impact that nurses have.

I went to the Nursing Day at the Legislature with my aunt. I am so thankful that she extended the invitation to me and encouraged me to come along with her. My aunt has had such an amazing influence, and has been an incredible role model for me. It was great to see her involved in all of these discussions and to hear her thoughts on the future of nursing.

Lisa, Jennifer and ARNBC President Julie Fraser speak with an MLA

Lisa, Jennifer and ARNBC President Julie Fraser speak with an MLA


Nursing Day at the Legislature occurs each year during nursing week, and is an opportunity for the all members of the nursing family – licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses – to connect and network with one another, meet with MLAs and experience the B.C. political system in action. Our thanks to Lisa and Jennifer for sharing their reflections on this day – we hope others will share their reflections in the comments section and we look forward to an even bigger and better event next year.

My Journey with ARNBC, by Linda Axen, RN

Congratulations on finding your way to the ARNBC webpage! By cruising through the website and reading blogs you have already taken your curiosity from thought to action. I also took that step exploring ARNBC online a few years ago and now I find myself privileged to sit on the Board of Directors representing the diverse voices of nurses working in northern B.C. This blog is my story of taking action which I hope will inspire some of you who have been thinking about becoming more active in your profession to find ways to take the next steps.

A professional high-point for me was having the opportunity to attend and present at the Canadian Nurses Association 2012 Biennial Conference. Attending that conference, soaking in the words of Canadian nursing leaders was an awe-inspiring event. I encourage all nurses to endeavour to attend at least one CNA conference for the simple yet profound sense of professional pride you will enjoy. Of particular interest was the sharing of the report A Nursing Call to Action: The health of our nation, the future of our health system. It filled me with hope and a sense of purpose that nurses throughout the country were capable of contributing to solutions to better the health of Canadians.

In early spring of 2014 I received an email notification that nominations for the ARNBC Board were open. I wanted to have my name put forward but at the same time I was very nervous and reluctant to compete for a Regional Director position. I overcame my fears only because I knew my regrets would haunt me if I didn’t try for the position. I am so happy that I took that risk. As a Board Director, I have attended meetings which occur approximately five times a year face-to-face and a few times per year by teleconference. The time commitments for connecting with nurses in the regions vary for each Board member. At every meeting and teleconference I am continually inspired by the passion that fellow Board members exhibit in representing nurses throughout the province. I am proud to think   that time spent on Board activities Board allows me to contribute my voice to influencing positive change on social and health issues in British Columbia.

So if you are like I was a few months ago, thinking about being more active in representing the voice of nurses, take the time to familiarize yourself with the webpage, explore becoming a network lead or consider contributing your voice on the Board of Directors. Nominations for Directors are open, so visit our website for more information  and consider letting your name stand for nomination. It’s a decision you won’t regret.


Linda1Linda started with Northern Health in October 2011 as the Nursing Research Facilitator and is currently the Northern Health Cardiac Triage Coordinator. Prior to the Nursing Research Facilitator role, Linda worked for many years in clinical research in Vancouver including five years in Cardiology Research at Vancouver General Hospital. In completing her Master of Nursing in 2011 from the University of Victoria, Linda gained a greater understanding of the contributions nursing makes to health policy development and the complexities of the social and environmental forces within which nursing has developed as a profession.

Concurrent to working in Northern Health as the Nursing Research Facilitator, Linda co-taught the Introduction to Nursing Research course at the University of Northern BC. Working with the students afforded Linda insight into the amazing strength, energy and professionalism that newly graduated nurses bring to our ever-evolving work environments. Linda is passionate about encouraging practicing nurses to develop expertise in research and research-related activities and evidence-informed practice. Linda has been actively involved in the BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative and is a certified member of the Society of Clinical Research Professionals. She is well aware of the powerful economic contribution the north makes to the overall fiscal strength of our province and recognizes that this economic contribution requires a healthy and robust workforce.

Budget Lockup: Insights from ARNBC, by Zak Matieschyn, NP

Recently, I had the privilege of joining Joy Peacock, Executive Director of ARNBC, in the B.C. Budget Lockup. For those who are not aware, this is a secured room wherein around 200 stakeholders have an advanced preview of the details of the budget and service plans. This is also where the media interviews these stakeholders in order to get their stories aired in a timely manner following the budget speech.

This was the first time ARNBC was invited to participate in the Budget Lockup – an event that can only be attended by invitation of the Finance Minister. Beginning January 1 of this year, ARNBC entered a new phase, and is now a member-driven organization representing all B.C. registered nurses and nurse practitioners. Being invited to participate in Budget Lockup was a strong signal of how government views the importance of the Association and the work we’ve been mandated to do.

The budget itself was a relatively benign affair for healthcare. Increases to healthcare spending will be a very modest 2.9% per year. My review of the Ministry of Health service plan noted much of the same language as last year: commitments to primary disease prevention and health promotion, improving primary/community care through inter-professional teams, and improving rural healthcare to name a few. From a theoretical perspective – this is music to the ears of the nursing profession. As we know and have been educated, these points are among the mainstays of what are needed to reform healthcare. What is concerning is a lack of a blueprint of how we get there. We are talking about a fundamental shift in how healthcare is delivered to become more up-stream, integrated, and team-based. Uttering the correct words is a fine start, but such an objective will require dedicated monies to operationalize this plan, as well as an understanding that this will be a front heavy, longer term process. That is, the benefits will be slower to materialize than can fit in a single budget year or government election cycle. The other point lacking is collaboration with nursing. Registered nurses and nurse practitioners possess exactly the knowledge and expertise of a healthcare system described in the service plan. It is simply a waste of available talent, capacity and leadership to exclude nursing from the spheres of policy planning and implementation.

Also disappointing was the lack of mention of nurse practitioners when commenting on plans for improving access to full service primary care. Over the past 10 years, NPs have slowly been implemented to improve access for British Columbians to primary health care – both in urban and rural settings. Once again, new NPs find themselves without an existing hiring initiative, let alone a robust funding model, to permit them the opportunity to improve primary healthcare access to regions of the province in desperate need of help.

On the brighter side, I was pleased to observe the significant step of eliminating the clawback of child-support payments for single parents on income or disability assistance. This is a relatively low cost intervention (costing only $19 million annually but helping to lift nearly 6000 children out of poverty) which directly impacts the health of these individuals and the health of our society. Nursing has long known the impacts of social determinants on health and government would do very well to continue to explore these evidenced based health and social policy reforms.

The media scrum that occurred towards the end of lockup was a chaotic scene – throngs of stakeholders and reporters mobbing each other. I noticed a friend of mine in the crowd representing another group. “How does this thing work?” I asked. “You just grab the next available reporter and talk to them” she expertly answered. Seemed simple enough yet daunting to the novice that I am, but as I observed the goings on, there did seem to be an order amongst the madness. I did manage to speak with a few reporters about our associations’ reactions to the budget and with luck they may use the story.

I will sharpen my elbows for the next opportunity.


Zak’s interest in health and healing began at the early age of nine years-old when he would carry a small first aid kit while playing with friends. Since then, his passion for healthcare and health policy has been unwavering. He was particularly inspired by concepts of family, community, and societal health, as well as the social determinants of health during his nursing undergraduate (BSN UVic, 2000), graduate work (MN UVic, 2008), and clinical experience in urban, rural and remote B.C. communities.

Zak has served on numerous boards and committees, including the BC Nurse Practitioners Association Executive and is the only Nurse Practitioner in B.C. who has been invited to sit on a Division of Family Practice Board (Interior). Through this work he has gained valuable experience in member engagement, optimizing board governance, and relationship building among diverse stakeholders. In his clinical practice, Zak has worked med/surg, emergency, intensive care, vascular access and outpost nursing. After obtaining his NP education six years ago, he began a practice in a West Kootenay family clinic, providing primary healthcare to the general public with a focus on marginalized populations. Zak is president-elect of ARNBC.

Reflecting on our Success, by Julie Fraser, RN, MN, ARNBC President

As we move forward into 2015, and my final months as president of ARNBC, I value this opportunity to reflect on ARNBC’s achievements over the past year and look ahead to the future that is unfolding for the Association and nursing in BC. I am so proud that through the hard work and dedication of many nurses in BC, ARNBC has grown into its role as the professional voice for nursing leadership, policy and practice in British Columbia.

In January 2015, registered nurses and nurse practitioners began the registration process with the College of Registered Nurses of BC (CRNBC). This was an historic occasion as, for the first time CRNBC began collecting professional association fees on behalf of ARNBC. Through the Health Professions Act, the province has set a visionary and revolutionary precedent by providing professions with the ability to self-regulate in the interest of the public, while continuing to advance their profession and influence change for health and social policy issues.

Upon registration, CRNBC is now collecting a total of $450.18 from each registered nurse and $651.48 from each nurse practitioner. When you register, you will notice that a total of $98.82 is allocated as Association fees. Of this, CNA receives $57.69 and ARNBC receives $41.13. It is important to note that registration fees for individual nurses have not increased at all.

At this point in the registration process, nearly half of you have already registered for 2015, and just over 85% of you have clearly indicated that you want to hear from ARNBC and CNA. This is a fabulous show of support and validates what so many of you have been saying for the past decade – B.C. nursing needs the contributions of all three nursing organizations – the College, the Union and the Association. We value the trust you have placed in us and regard it as our responsibility to move forward with you in the months and years to come. That said, we are pleased to offer all registered nurses and nurse practitioners access to all ARNBC and CNA programs and services – even if you have chosen to not receive our information updates.

ARNBC continues to build a strong relationship with our national organization, CNA. As president of your Association, I sit on the CNA board of directors where I have the honour of raising health and nursing issues from a B.C. perspective at the national level. CNA continues to be one of our greatest partners and ARNBC is one of many associations and nursing groups that make up the CNA Board. We value their support and leadership in recognizing ARNBC as the best option for B.C. nurses to connect on a national and international level. ARNBC’s status as the CNA jurisdictional representative provides B.C. registered nurses and nurse practitioners with more than a subscription to Canadian Nurse: opportunities to be a voting delegate, chances to inform on CNA resolutions and bylaw forums, engagement in federal lobbying initiatives and connecting with specialty nursing groups.


Click to Enlarge

My greatest hope is that over the next weeks and months, nursing in British Columbia will begin to unify to claim the strong, compassionate, and informed voice that our patients have come to expect and trust from us. The College, the Association and the Union all bring unique but important perspectives to patient care and health system improvements – and at a time when there are so many important issues to manage, we need to work together for the health of our patients and the advancement of our profession.

As you can see, our list of achievements is long and growing steadily longer, in large part because you have told us what you would like to see in an Association. We are excited to be heading out to many parts of the province over the next few months, and hope that we will meet as many of you as possible and you will share your vision for what an Association can do for you. Every single conversation with a registered nurse or nurse practitioner is important to the Association. After all, your voice is our strength!

Click to view ARNBC programs and services for registered nurses and nurse practitioners.


JulieJulie Fraser is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the area of Home Care. She has been a registered nurse for more than 15 years and has practiced in a number of different settings from residential care to acute medical and surgical care units, before focusing on community nursing, working in both clinical and educator roles.

Verna Huffman Splane: Our gentle giant – “Look up, look waaaay up”, by Michael Villeneuve, RN

Verna Marie Huffman Splane OC, Diploma in Nursing (Nicholls Hosp, Peterborough), Diploma in Public Health Nursing (Toronto), BSc (Columbia), MPH (Michigan), LLD (Hon, Queen’s), LLD (Hon, St. Francis Xavier), LLD (Hon, UBC), DSc (Hon, Toronto), Fellow of the American Public Health Assoc.

November 23, 1914 — January 10, 2015

Verna Splane WHO ID badge 1965

WHO 1965

The word giant has been tossed around by many of us this past week in reference to the life, career and persona of our colleague, teacher, mentor and friend, Verna Huffman Splane. First setting eyes on Verna, the word giant might, in the most literal sense, seem to have missed the mark; she was, after all, a petite woman of small physical stature. But to anyone who spent even a few moments with her, it was clear that one was in the presence of greatness, and indeed of a giant sprit and intellect. She was tiny but she was mighty in every sense of that word — and she was utterly unforgettable.

Verna had the bearing of a respected, elder statesman. If she set her eyes on you, they looked deeply into yours and stayed there. You were being checked out. They were heavy with wisdom and experience, but never world-weary. She sparkled with curiosity, engagement and interest in everything right to the end of her life.

When Verna entered a room, attention was paid. At the Carter Center in 2001, she and her beloved Richard were jointly awarded prizes by the Lillian Carter Center for International Nursing Award by Emory University “for their groundbreaking work to document the role of chief nursing officers worldwide.” Even President Carter and his friend, Archbishop Tutu — who was receiving a humanitarian award from the center — accorded her a respectful berth. They made a formidable collection of wise ones that sunny Atlanta day.

But there was little of Verna in the way of pretense, and she was dismissive of much fuss. She was gracious, charming, inclusive, impeccably mannered, well schooled in tact, and completely comfortable with the diversity of humanity. She was, quite simply, one of the most distinctive individuals who ever rose through the ranks of nursing to soar comfortably in the company of our greatest Canadians.

Officer of the Order of Canada, 1996

Officer of the Order of Canada, 1996

Verna’s importance to the nation was acknowledged with her appointment to Officer rank in the Order of Canada. On her appointment it was noted that she had “played a major role in raising the status of the nursing profession both nationally and internationally” and that her expertise had led to “improved health care in different parts of the world.”

For her life of public service she was presented with both Queen Elizabeth II Silver (1977) and Golden (2002) Jubilee medals by the Governor General, and the Canadian Red Cross Distinguished Service Award. She held the highest honour in Canadian nursing, the Jeanne Mance Award, and received a Centennial award from CNA in 2008. From academia she was conferred honorary doctoral degrees by Queen’s, St. FX, UBC and U of T — and she was named one of the Notable Ninety graduates of the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing on the school’s 90th anniversary in 2010.

After many years working with our federal government and the World Health Organization, in 1968 Verna famously took on the role as our first federal chief nurse, landing her in the midst of the country’s most senior health policy decision makers. She leapt from that role to an eight-year voluntary stint as a vice president of the International Council of Nurses, further cementing her stellar career and presence in global nursing and public health. And of course the 50-country study of government chief nurses she conducted with Dick is now the stuff of legend.

So yes, she was amazingly accomplished. And yes, in many ways, she was truly a giant; the examples here just hint at the impact of a massive, global career. And let’s not forget that she took on another 30 years of mentoring, networking, researching and teaching starting in 1985, after she retired.

But celebrated as she was, Verna was of course a real, ordinary and extraordinary human being.

She was fun and funny. Her humour could be subtle and as dry as dust — but she could also giggle like a girl. Her laugh forced her eyes closed and her face could turn from deep concern to jumping joy in an instant.

She had mastered the Spock eyebrow raise of concern or surprise.

She defined the notion of twinkle in the eye — and it could be hard to tell sometimes if that twinkle was inquisitive, teasing or laughing. She had a highly mischievous look about her at times.

Verna was generous with her time, intellect, energy and money, and she received generosity back with love, thanks and real appreciation.

She gave praise with sincerity. When she said, “Dick and I are just so proud of…” the recipient knew that was real. From them it meant something.

She was educated, articulate, hard working, principled and incredibly politically astute.

Verna was quiet and discreet — but she took no prisoners and she really respected intelligent, thoughtful people. She didn’t have a lot of time for silliness or disrespect.

Verna was infuriated with the dismantling of the former RNABC, and not afraid to say so or to ask tough questions in public ways. She put her name and money on the line in the fight to maintain a professional association in British Columbia. And while she supported the importance of the family of nursing organizations that support nurses, she was clear that, first and foremost, strong professional nursing advocacy and representation must be housed in strong professional nursing associations. End of story.

She hosted amazing cocktail parties and dinners at which she always included any nurses visiting Vancouver, not to mention a dazzling array of Canadian and global celebrities from many fields over the years. More correctly, she and Dick hosted those events together, because rarely did any sentence she uttered start without three important words: “Dick and I.”

Verna and Dick, 2014

Verna and Dick, 2014

During her WHO work as a nurse leader in the Caribbean, Verna befriended another famous nurse who studied at the University of Toronto — Dame Nita Barrow, who went on to be the first woman candidate for the presidency of the United Nations and later served as Governor General of her home country of Barbados. Verna travelled in some lofty circles. But the most novice student nurse was greeted with the same loving welcome at the Splane’s front door as the celebrated Dame Nita or the political elite here in Canada.

“Dick and I thought we’d have a little drinks party,” she’d offer. In the warm surroundings of their beautiful home at UBC, Verna greeted admirers and kept conversations going; Dick always wore a shirt and jacket, mixed great drinks and was her thoughtful co-investigator, asking probing questions about every topic. They were masterful tag-team referees of deep conversations tackling the implications of all strategic options for moving forward to ensure optimal success on any policy initiative.

Few gatherings were purely social; there would always be a professional opportunity for time with an important leader that “Dick and I thought you should meet.” She was a marvelous networker and connector. And in even the most social get-together, Verna might say “there are two or three things on my agenda I wanted to ask you about.”

“Dick and I thought we’d have lunch outside,” she would say at the cottage in Eastern Ontario, where they also invited nurses and other intimate and professional friends on the regional, national and global scene. A “casual lunch outside” with the Splanes could mean a roasted chicken on china plates, with a white tablecloth gentle flapping in the afternoon breeze under shade trees by the water. Not exactly the typical cottage hotdog set!

A dinner inside was just as wonderful: “Dick and I thought we’d have some tapas and open some good wine.” What 90-year-old white lady says that?! Verna Splane did, standing casually before the framed Orders of Canada and other honours mounted over the fireplace as the loons called out across the lake.

Verna was masterful at the leadership game and she knew just how to work a room. She had a fierce awareness of herself developed over many decades. But as she moved past 90, she was also living with some failing body parts, including her eyes and ears. But no mind; she handled her early sensory losses beautifully so no one would even know. She could be totally disarming, even to the point of seating herself dead centre on a small coffee table, framed by the fireplace behind it, wearing a completely black outfit and a perfect set of pearls, putting her hands down flat on the table on either side of her body, and with the intoxicating subtlety of Bacall seducing Bogie, leaning forward to look directly at a guest and say slowly, with that voice none of us will ever forget, “So tell me, how are you?”

She was radiant. And she was casually in total control of herself and the room in the most restrained way. It was delicious to witness, as her admirers can attest. And many visits were master classes in leadership, if not just decorum and diplomacy. She was in her 90s then, and she was brilliant. And of course beyond being able to charm the snow off a snowman, she could see and hear better because she was closer to her visitors sitting in that central position.

2012 Garden Party

2012 Garden Party

Verna loved being around nurses, especially novices, but in truth anyone who expressed an interest in nursing, health care, humanity at large, and above all, in public policy, was invited into the fold. For decades she mentored groups of loyal younger nurses working around the world who would gather for conversation, story telling and advice at the university or at the Splane home.

When Dick and Verna hosted a huge and elegant outdoor cocktail party on Allison Road in June 2012 for the board of the Canadian Nurses Association and the chairs and members of the National Expert Commission, her older friends and colleagues stood by like an honour guard of watchful sisters. They were there to bolster her and they did. Others surrounded Dick and kept him company so she could hold court. But not for long; soon he was beside her like always.

Students and young nurses lined up anxiously to have their pictures taken with Dick and Verna like they were with rock stars.

And those of us somewhere in middle age looked on with pride and gratitude just to enjoy a tiny part of those special lives and the whole scene. What a privilege.

That night, Verna said quietly, “this is it, there will be no more public events,” explaining that at 97 she was feeling tired and wanted to turn over those duties to those of us a generation or more behind. There was to be no major speech that warm June evening, but deliver one she did, sharing gracious, loving, and humorous comments that, as ever, championed nurses, the CNA, and her beloved professional association in British Columbia — then rising as the new ARNBC. And whether intentional or not, she bade a public farewell to nurses and to what she said had been “a wonderful life and a wonderful career full of these events.”

ARNBC Lifetime Membership

ARNBC Lifetime Membership 2013

In the end there would be one final public celebration at the house, in April 2013, for ARNBC leaders and members after they awarded Verna with a life membership on her 98th birthday — a quarter century after receiving the RNABC Award of Merit (1987). She was deeply honoured by that gesture, and to the end last week, was a fierce defender of the importance of professional associations to nursing in British Columbia and Canada at large.

Verna embodied the sort of gracious and mannered style that in some ways seemed out of step with the frenzied career and world around her. She was relentlessly busy, but carried herself with a grace and pace that felt relaxed, caring and considerate of those around her. A timeless lesson perhaps in the incalculable currency of a great education, a good set of pearls, the love of a great glass of wine, a terrific partner, and a keen, observant mind.

Today in Vancouver, prayers will be offered and tears shed said for Verna — and for her great love, Dick. And rightly so: She was a tremendous ambassador for nursing within her beloved British Columbia (home for 40 years), across Canada, and around the world. And she was a great wife, neighbour, friend, and honourary mother to many.

She was especially attached to UBC and her network of friends, contemporaries, colleagues and students there. She was so, so proud of the UBC School of Nursing and of British Columbia nurses. She was a powerful inspiration and beacon in Vancouver and our British Columbia colleagues will especially mourn her loss today.

In conjunction with CNA’s annual general meeting in Ottawa in June, as a larger profession and a country we will gather to grieve and say goodbye to a great woman who embodied leadership in all she did across some 70 years of nursing.

It will no doubt be said that, “she will always be with us.” Fair enough, but many of us will really miss her gentle physical presence. Great love and great people deserve great grieving, and for all those who were privileged to experience her unforgettable personal touch, integrating the reality of this loss will take a little time.

For all sorts of reasons, we will not see her like again. She was a class act and of a certain time, and she never went out of style. What a gift to British Columbia, to UBC, to Canada and the world.

Verna was indeed our gentle giant. She insisted that while we always have our eyes on those we serve, we must also look up and out at the larger world around us. So look up – look waaaay up. She will be there, like always, watching, smiling, and expecting nothing less than the best from us all.


Michael Villeneuve is a lecturer in the Master of Nursing, Health Systems Leadership and Administration program at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto. Sincere thanks to Dr. Sally Thorne, professor at the University of British Columbia School of Nursing for her loving contributions to this reflection.

B.C.’s Flu Shot Policy for Healthcare Providers: it just makes sense, by Hannah Varto, NP

This year again the BC Ministry of Health has mandated that all healthcare providers must receive the influenza vaccine and if they choose not to, they must wear a mask for the duration of flu season whilst providing patient care. I applaud this decision and am frustrated by some of my colleagues who argue against science and common sense. Let’s examine some of the arguments.

Point 1: Flu kills.  It doesn’t tend to kill healthy people. I could care less if I personally get the flu but I care a lot if some nurse or doctor gives my elderly grandmother the flu and she becomes very sick (or worse).  I care a lot if some family doctor, NP or public health nurse gives my two week old baby the flu during a home visit. Flu kills our young, our elderly and our sick. It really is that simple. And these are the people we have agreed to take care of.

Point 2:  “I’ll stay home from work if I get the flu”. Great thinking….but you’ve already spread the virus before you even knew you had the flu.  Most flus and colds work that way. You’re spreading it before you have any symptoms.  Why should I have to cover for your sickness at work?  I took personal responsibility for my health and the health of my patients and co-workers to prevent getting sick but I’m supposed to cover for you because you didn’t? Thanks. Why should your employer and taxpayers have to pay more because you didn’t take responsibility for your own health? Something seems pretty unfair about that.

Point 3: Mandated vaccines. We are already mandated to get a vaccine, it’s called Hepatitis B. When healthcare providers are accepted into their schools and training programs and when we’re hired we are asked to prove we’ve had hepatitis B vaccine and also that our level of protection is adequate. So, we’re already mandated to get a vaccination because of our chosen profession. This isn’t new. Why is flu vaccine different? Why aren’t we crying “human rights” about Hepatitis B, Tetanus and MMR vaccines too?

Point 4: TB Skin testing.  Read point 3…same thing for TB Skin testing.  The fact is that healthcare providers have agreed to care for our most vulnerable populations and this includes a personal responsibility to do our best not to bring additional disease and infection to our patients.

Point 5: Shoddy science and “Big Pharma”.  Healthcare providers who are citing out of date, scare tactic “research” just to support their points need to check their professional commitment to evidence based practices. I look to the science, the evidence and the experts.  Conspiracy theorists abound and it’s difficult to sort through the rhetoric on both sides. Who should be making these vaccines instead of pharmaceutical companies? I would love nothing more than to have self-sacrificing scientists who are barely paid a living wage come up with amazing scientific breakthroughs. This isn’t happening in Canada. It’s a problem. But it doesn’t mean that the scientists who are working for pharmaceutical companies are all corrupt and out to kill and maim people. Our government has a vested interest in keeping the population healthy and out of emergency rooms.

Point 6: Only a few strains are covered. Sure, flu vaccine might only be 40% effective and only protect against two strains – but it’s better than 0%.  It’s the best we have for now.  We have a vaccine for hepatitis A and B but not for C so does that mean I won’t take Hep A and B vaccines?  If I took this logic into any other harm reduction strategy, my credibility could be called into question. This argument is like not wearing a bicycle helmet because it only protects my head – but I still might fall and break my arm.

Point 7: Safety.  I’ve been involved in flu vaccine campaigns for more than 12 years now.  I have yet to see a reaction more serious than redness at the injection site or a sore arm.  But, because I also don’t support anecdotal evidence as actual scientific evidence I look to the research.  It supports my observation.  Rare reactions (which can happen with any food or drug) do occur but at such super low rates you’d be more likely to win the lottery first.

Point 8: Getting the flu from the flu vaccine. Read up on first year immunology. Flu vaccine is an inactivated vaccine. It cannot infect you with the flu.  It simply stimulates an immune response.  Now, this being said, there are a lot of anecdotes about people getting the flu right after getting the vaccine. The fact is, you have a different strain or you were already infected before you got the shot.  Just as you don’t get hepatitis B from the hepatitis B vaccine, you don’t get flu from flu vaccine…but wait, even if you did, I thought you said you didn’t mind getting the flu?

Point 9: Human Rights and Bullying.  Ok, so yes, you as a Canadian, have a right to your decision-making about your own healthcare.  No problem with me.  Your employer and patients also have a right to ask you to protect those around you and stay healthy in order to work. I wear gloves during procedures because it protects me and the patient. I change the gloves to protect the patients, not me. I don’t ever need to change gloves to protect myself…but I do, because I know it’s important to protect my patients. Don’t like these policies?  Feel free to go work somewhere else or chose a different career.  Feel free to go work where the elderly, young and sick are happy to have the flu.  Just let me know where you’re going….because I’ll be going the other way and taking my family with me.

Unfortunately, the logic and evidence is unlikely to change the minds of those people who are staunchly against flu vaccine. It makes me sad that they are closed to logical arguments and so entrenched in poor science, conspiracy theory and anecdotal evidence that they are willing to put the lives of their patients at risk. This winter, I’ll be wearing my “Flu Sticker” on my employee badge with pride.  It shows that I care about the people around me.  It shows that I care about my health.  It shows that I support evidence based practice. I will stand united in herd immunity to decrease the spread of the flu this year.  It’s part of my job, my career, my profession and my humanity.


Hannah Varto is a family nurse practitioner and an ARNBC Network Lead. She enjoys working as a part of interdisciplinary teams of health care providers. Her career focus has been primarily in the field of sexual and reproductive health, specific to women and adolescent populations. She has worked in a variety of settings including public health, youth clinics, walk-in clinics, telehealth, education, travel medicine, communicable disease and as a sexual assault nurse examiner. Hannah is on the board of directors for the McCreary Centre Society, a leading non-profit organization focusing on adolescent health research. Currently Hannah is leading the implementation of ARNBC’s first community of practice – the BC Contraceptive Management Community of Practice.

Canadian Nurses Association Lobby Day on Parliament Hill: Insights on Nursing as a Political Act

Have you ever had one of those days where you said to yourself “If I had the opportunity to go to Ottawa, I’d tell those politicians how to fix our health care system”? Well, that is just what happened for five nurses from B.C. who were part of the Canadian Nurses Association annual “day on the hill” lobby opportunity on November 25th, 2014. These nurses included two current CNA board members; Julie Fraser, B.C. jurisdictional representative and Jocelyne Reimer–Kent, Specialty Network representative; as well as three nurses selected as CNA board observers for the November meeting, Zak Matieschyn, Joy Peacock and 4th year nursing student Jessy Dame. The following insights are from the nurses who participated in this extraordinary event.

From left: Barb Shellian, CNA President Elect; Zak Matieschyn, ARNBC President Elect; Julie Fraser, ARNBC President; Karima Velji, CNA President; Joy Peacock, ARNBC Executive Director; Jocelyn Reimer-Kent, CNA Board Member; Jessy Dame, BSN Student; Anne Sutherland Boal, CNA CEO

From left: Barb Shellian, CNA President Elect; Zak Matieschyn, ARNBC President Elect; Julie Fraser, ARNBC President; Karima Velji, CNA President; Joy Peacock, ARNBC Executive Director; Jocelyn Reimer-Kent, CNA Board Member; Jessy Dame, BSN Student; Anne Sutherland Boal, CNA CEO

Julie Fraser, President ARNBC

“The energy the morning of the day was palpable – the nurses going to lobby spent the afternoon and evening prior brushing up on our key “asks”. We arrived on parliament hill focused on creating change through arranged 30 min meetings with selected members of parliament. CNA President Karima Velji started the day with powerful comments in a pre-event with the Health Minister, many members of Parliament and the CNA board members and observers. Karima expressed the opportunities to create access and quality in our health care system by establishing national standards for home care. She shared powerful statistics – 75% of Canadians think it’s important to be able to age at home with access to health care in the home setting and that same amount agree there is an enhanced role of nurses in delivering health care to seniors in the home setting. Federal Health Minister, Rona Ambrose, expressed how she appreciated the specific “asks” from CNA and the partnership with the new Health Innovations working group and HEAL (Health Action Lobby). The results of the day may be hard to technically quantify, but there were impacts. 25 nurses gained valuable experience on the “how to-s” of lobbying that can be used within our provinces and territories. Many members of parliament heard the message that #homeishealth, but with needed design and resources. Most importantly, nursing was seen at the national level as an informed politically astute profession, caring about the health of Canadians and the way we spend our health care dollars.”

Jocelyne Reimer–Kent, CNA Specialty Network Board Member

“The “Hill Day” was a great opportunity to meet with members of parliament and discuss issues pertinent to CNA. The focus this year was on home health and seniors. I met with The Honourable Joyce Murray Member of Parliament (MP) for the electoral district of Vancouver Quadra, which she has represented in the House of Commons as a member of the Liberal Party of Canada since 2008.

MP Murray was keenly interested in CNA’s issues and also gave an open invitation to nurses to attend a monthly breakfast speaker series that she hosts “MP Breakfast Connections” on Friday mornings at Enigma Restaurant (4397 W 10th Ave, Vancouver, BC). These meetings are non-partisan and designed to provide an accessible networking forum and opportunity to learn and engage in current policy issues ( Most issues have health implications so please feel free to join in this gathering and bring the voice of nursing to the fore.

With a federal election on the horizon I would encourage each and every nurse to speak with their MP. As nurses we are the most trusted healthcare provider but we also have untapped power that is ours to release.”

Jessy Dame, 4th year Thompson Rivers University Nursing Student

“Starting the day off with a bang is an understatement for how Karima Velji, the 46th President of CNA, welcomed attendees during breakfast on Parliament Hill. The welcoming speech spoke to the major topic of the day #HomeisHealth and how patients’ outcomes could be much higher if individuals stayed at home. Through this experience, I was able to obtain communication skills with government officials, learn insights on the lobbying process, increase my understanding of the Member of Parliaments (MP) role, as well as, acquire a taste for how the different political parties valued topics that nurses brought forward. Though I felt prepared to enter the rooms of the MPs, my insecurities of being a student were still present. These insecurities often lead me to introduce myself as a “just a student nurse”. This introduction quickly got the attention of my passionate mentor who then lead me to the realization of the importance of my role as a student nurse and that I am not just a student nurse, I am a future nurse and my role is just as important. The group I worked with was amazing and provided me with the inspiration to come home and continue expressing the importance of CNA’s three main asks and #HomeisHealth. My motivational gas tank has been refueled and I cannot wait to start driving my own car (My Own practice).”

Joy Peacock, Executive Director ARNBC

“Nursing is a political act. The privilege of being a registered nurse and representing our profession on Parliament Hill is something I will always hold close to my heart. Nursing is about making a difference. Attending “Hill Day” in Ottawa with CNA is one way to demonstrate advocacy in action, through collaborative leadership. I know we made a difference. I know together we will continue to make a positive difference.”

Zak Matieschyn, President Elect ARNBC 

“My first experience with the work of Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) was illuminating. For so much of my nursing career it existed as something vague, abstract and far-removed from my own nursing practice – both geographically and functionally. This all changed in the last week of November 2014 when I had my first introduction as an observer with our B.C. jurisdiction.

It was an opportune time to dip my toe into CNA activities – not only was there the annual day on Parliament Hill, but as well there was significant strategic planning undertaken to chart the course of the association over the next five years. I cannot overstate the level of sophistication present within this organization. Even the physical space of the ‘CNA House’ building emanates a solidness of history and wisdom – no doubt as a result of being filled with many of the great Canadian nursing leaders over the decades. That tradition continues to this day as I found myself struck by the depth of knowledge and experience I witnessed when observing the board explore issues, consider opposing points of view, and develop innovative solutions to very challenging problems.

Equally exciting was our day on Parliament Hill. Our large group was divided into 10 groups of four people and we were assigned to three unique MPs to speak with. The brilliant strategists at the CNA had developed three well thought out and specific ‘asks’ in the realm of home care and seniors’ health for us to pitch. We engaged with members from government as well as opposition parties. I can say my personal experience was one of excitement to offer evidence-informed policy solutions (an area in which nursing is well versed) to some of the complex health care problems of our times.


Joy Peacock, ARNBC Executive Director; The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health; Julie Fraser, ARNBC President; Jessy Dame, BSN Student

All in all, I felt my passion for nursing further renewed. I look forward to my future involvement with the CNA in the coming years as British Columbia’s jurisdictional representative. Nursing is, and will continue to be, a leader in health care in Canada.”

13 million Canadians will be providing some type of care to family members or friends with age related needs (CNA, 2014). Therefore, the advocacy work around home care continues for the nurses of B.C. at both the provincial and municipal levels. Although Health Care falls within the federal jurisdiction, we understand that the key implementation decisions occur at the provincial level. Nurses have the solutions to transform health care and will continue to do this to improve the health of the individuals we serve, our families and communities. We welcome stories of your own advocacy and lobby efforts as responses to this blog.

Canadian Nurses Association (2014). Health Begins at Home.

Do You Know if YOU are the Bully?

ARNBC does not generally print blogposts from anonymous sources. Ideally nurses could state their opinion on virtually any topic, without repercussions. However, the following blog was submitted by a nurse who feels so threatened in her workplace that she does not feel it would be safe to identify herself publicly. Bullying is a topic that we know impacts many nurses and we feel strongly that it is important to publish this piece in its entirety.

Nurses are frequently named by the public as one of the most trusted professions, second only to firefighters. Our inherent compassion, professionalism, and dedication to our patients is the root of this. While we seem to have mastered our interactions with our patients, why is nurse on nurse bullying so common? Why can’t we show compassion and respect for each other in addition to our patients? Why does the body of literature on horizontal bullying have to be so vast as part of the accepted language of nursing? Why do instances of nurse on nurse bullying continue to grow? And maybe most importantly, why do we allow bullying to continue in our workplaces?

Seattle nurse and consultant Kathleen Bartholomew has explored the challenge of nurse bullying and notes that “because nursing has its fundamental roots in caring, it’s often hard for nurses to admit that they could be hurting one another. But studies show that 60 percent of new nurses leave their first position within six months because of some form of verbal abuse or harsh treatment from a colleague.”1

You know what I’m talking about. The snide comment about you behind your back that you hear when you’re walking by the nurses’ station. The whispered tones, the smiles to your face and the lies that live underneath fake smiles. We’ve all seen senior nurses do this to younger nurses. They chalk it up to learning the ropes, or growing pains that are necessary to experience. They have to ‘toughen up’. Or, ‘my nurse manager did this to me when I was a new grad’. I’ve also seen younger nurses act like their seasoned colleagues are out of touch dinosaurs for not adopting new looks, methods or body art. Many of our younger colleagues simply don’t respect that experience is a great teacher.

bullyingWhat if it’s your manager or supervisor who is doing this to you? Every time that person calls into question your practice, he or she destroys a little piece of your confidence and makes you question your ability. Constructive criticism provided in a supportive and open environment articulated with respect for the individual is absolutely necessary. The problem comes when there is a lack of regard for opposing opinions and perspectives, and the blatant lack of respect that rears its ugly head when an idea is dismissed, when a person is belittled, or when someone acts like you don’t get to count. Literally and figuratively they may turn their back on you.

I know. Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. Sorry, Mom but that’s just wrong. Names do hurt and they do inflict damage. Damage can be inflicted quickly and painfully by bullying managers and colleagues. As professionals we cover up the damage done as not to let it show in our professional lives, but in private the toll is very real. Anyone who has ever felt sick about having to go to work, afraid of what the day might bring about, knows how this feels. A job you love can quickly become a frightening and difficult place to be.

Stand up to the person. The bully is afraid. The bully is threatened by you. Don’t let anyone push you around. That all sounds great, but what if I lose my job because I was the lone person who made the choice to stand up to the bully? What will I do when a power-wielding bully takes me away from a job that I can’t afford to lose?

The literature tell us that that the roots of horizontal violence often come from workload stress, shiftwork and the emotional toll nursing care takes on people. I get it. We have stressful jobs, we work in high pressure situations and we literally have lives in our hands. Violence begets violence – if you learn it, you do it. And if someone does it to you, you will likely do it to someone else. But is that really our best excuse? If these issues are the roots of violence, then it seems to me that the better response would be to show some empathy to our fellow nurses. The better response would be to recognize that for the most part, we all do the best we can. Don’t we all want healthy and supportive work environments where our patients get the best care possible?

This seemingly too usual response of bullying and putting each other down isn’t working. Perhaps it’s time we all take a long look at our own behaviour and ask ourselves the hard questions. Are you the bully? Did you leave your work today having been a positive force for your colleagues? Or, did you let your bad day, bad mood, or just the fact that you don’t like someone allow you to be a negative force for someone today? Is it such a stressful time for you that it really justifies bad behaviour against a fellow nurse? Should your bad mood and insecurities get to dictate the well-being of those around you?

I write this blog to ARNBC’s members anonymously because I feel so fundamentally unsafe in my working environment that I don’t want any of you to know who I am. Some of you will shake your heads and say what a shame, not realizing that perhaps YOU are the bully in my workplace. Others will understand the feeling, and share my despair – because you also can’t afford to be the one to stand up and say you won’t take it anymore.

In her article Addressing Nurse-to-Nurse Bullying to Promote Nurse Retention, Carol F. Rocker identifies a number of strategies that can prevent workplace bullying:

1)      Education – teaching nurses how to decrease bullying by helping them understand what to do and not do when confronted by a bully.

2)      Policy – involving nurses in policy development to give them ownership and responsibility for their own workplace environment.

3)      Celebration – celebrating positive, bully-free work environments

This is a start, but do we not have some responsibility for our own actions? We’re the second most trusted profession – but only if you ask non-nurses. Within our ranks, we know there’s good reason for the expression “nurses eat their own”.

It’s time to figure out how to end bullying, for the good of our colleagues, our patients and ourselves!





Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety:

CBC News:


Other Resources:

BC Research – Houshmand, M; O’Reilly, J; Robinson, S, Wolff, A, “Escaping bullying: The simultaneous impact of individual and unit-level bullying on turnover intentions”. Human RelationsJuly 2012 vol. 65 no. 7 901-918. (ABSTRACT –  

Stokowski L., “A Matter of Respect and Dignity: Bullying in the Nursing Profession”. Medscape Nurses, September 2010.

Johnson S., Rea R., “Workplace Bullying: Concerns for Nurse Leaders”. Journal of Nursing Administration, 2009; 39(2):84-90. (ABSTRACT –

Griffen M., “Teaching Cognitive Rehearsal as a Shield for Lateral Violence: An Intervention for Newly Licensed Nurses.” Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 2004;35 (6):257-63.



  1. Ending Nurse-to-Nurse Hostility: Why Nurses Eat Their Young, HCPro, 2006