Freshly graduated from nursing school in the mid-1980s, Marilyn Ford-Gilboe began her career as a public health nurse in Wallaceburg, west of London.
In that farming and industrial town, she learned that health leadership includes helping remedy health issues that go beyond patients’ acute care needs and extends also to addressing chronic illness, family violence, systemic inequities and access to well-family care.
“I think every nurse should have some public health experience, some community-based practice. It helps you appreciate more than whatever is the health of a patient in the moment,” said Ford-Gilboe. “When you start your nursing career in the community, it really enriches your practice.”
Ford-Gilboe – now a Distinguished University Professor and Women’s Health Research Chair in Rural Health at Western – has carried that community health perspective into a career of teaching, research and advocacy in health care access and intimate-partner violence prevention.
This week, Ford-Gilboe was one of four Western nursing faculty named to the inaugural class of Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Nursing – a program that recognizes and celebrates the most accomplished nurses in Canada.
Jayne Garland, dean of health sciences at Western, said recognition by national and international peers is among the highest honoursone can receive. “Being included among the inaugural group of inductees speaks to the impact they have had and highlights the meaningful contributions being made here at Western.
“As we celebrate 100 years of Nursing at Western, we are focused on showcasing our leadership in transforming education, services, systems and policies that affect health. It is fitting that these leaders are being recognized for doing just that. Each member of this group has, in their own way, shaped the future of nursing, and we couldn’t be more proud to call them our own.”
Ford-Gilboe added she’s pleased but not surprised Western researchers and instructors are part of this list. “We have an outstanding faculty in nursing at Western. Whether they’re just starting their career or whether they’re more senior members of faculty, it’s really about pulling people together in leadership.”
The new Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Nursing are:
Distinguished University Professor Helene Berman (Emerita) is the founding academic director of Western’s Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion and is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. Her research program addresses the subtle and explicit forms of violence experienced by women and children.
Professor Lorie Donelle’s research explores health literacy, social justice and digital health, and looks to change how we practice health care and how we engage with patients, individuals and each other. She holds the Arthur Labatt Family Chair in Nursing, which focuses on envisioning and addressing pressing individual, family and community health care issues.
Professor Victoria Smye’s research is “located at the intersections of violence, gender, poverty, mental health, substance abuse and Indigenous health.” Director of the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, she has worked closely with several national and provincial mental health and professional organizations to address racism, stigma and discrimination in health care.
In addition to these Western professors, Carol Young-Ritchie, an adjunct professor who is executive vice-president and chief nursing officer at London Health Sciences Centre, was recognized for her contributions to nursing leadership and her passion for patient care.