Dr. Claire Betker joined us to share a bit about her own journey in nursing from being a district nurse in a rural community to being the president of our Canadian Nurses Association.
Claire started by acknowledging this is the International Year of the Nurse & Midwife in the 200th anniversary year of Florence Nightingale's birth. When this year was declared by the WHO the intent was to honour the sacrifices and contributions of nurses and midwives and address the worldwide shortage of our professions - that spotlight has turned out to be a bit brighter than expected.
Claire started her career as a district nurse in rural southwest Manitoba. These nurses really were the community’s nurses who cared for patients and families from preconception to death including palliative care at home. This was a lead from where you are model and leadership was expected of these nurses. This early experience made the impact of social determinants of health clear.
Professional advocacy associations were integral throughout Claire's leadership journey. In fact, her nomination for CNA president came from the Community Health Nurses of Canada and the Association of Registered Nurses of Manitoba.
Claire's campaign commitment:
- Build: strong, strategic and unifying voice for nursing and health
- Bridge: relationships at local, provincial, territorial and national levels to identify solutions to health barriers in Canada and to take collective action for positive change.
- Believe: we are all leaders. Our collective voice and action will advance nursing and the health of people living in Canada. A strong and relevant CNA is essential to this effort.
After winning the presidency Claire made a point of speaking with as many nurses in as many different places as she could. She heard some very strong themes from them:
- Nursing needs a shared vision and a shared national voice
- Nurses are stronger when we work together collaboratively, in partnership and as a collective.
This was reflected in the June 2018 vote to open membership to all regulated nurses (as our own ARNM did just this spring) which had been voted down at least twice before.
One thing Claire learned as she represented Canada internationally was how incredibly well thought of Canadian nurses are around the world - our education, regulation, professional associations, unions and students are held in very high regard.
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