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Special case doctoral student receives grant to study reconciliation in nursing.

By Iryn Tushabe

Posted: December 12th, 2019



As a new immigrant to Canada and a nursing student at the University of Manitoba, Delasi Essien was socialized to various stereotypes about Indigenous People.

"It wasn’t until I started teaching as a nursing instructor  Delasi Essien that the reality of the struggles that Indigenous people continue to endure became very apparent and real to me,” says Essien who currently heads various programs at Saskatchewan Polytechnic including Critical Care Nursing, Orientation to Nursing in Canada for Internationally Educated Nurses, Nursing Re-entry, Diabetes Education Programs, and the Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) Assessment Centre. “I saw firsthand some of the barriers that Indigenous nursing students face which lead to attrition at different stages of the program.”

During her Masters Program, Essien pursued the topic of indigenization of the curriculum as a means to curtail attrition and improve retention of Indigenous nursing students. Now as a special case PhD scholar, she’s the recipient of the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre (IPHRC) and Saskatchewan Centre for Patient Oriented Research (SCPOR) Award which will enable her to conduct research into how indigenization is being realized within the nursing academy.

"As a Canadian citizen,” she says, “I’m guided by a desire to respectfully contribute to the discussion about the role of non-Indigenous Canadians in dismantling the legacy of colonialism and pushing the agenda of reconciliation.”

Even so, she struggles with her role as a non-indigenous person of colour researching the impact of colonialism on the Indigenous peoples of Canada. “But one thing I know for sure is that I want my research to be anti-oppressive, self-reflexive, relational, and to utilize non-colonial research methodologies,” she explains, adding she will approach the research with openness to learn through asking many questions.

She believes that the responsibility to shift the narrative of settlerhood from one of privilege to that of complicity and accountability falls on the shoulders of every Canadian. “We can acknowledge that you don’t need to be a privileged white person to be complicit in the ongoing legacy of colonialism and neocolonialism,” she explains.

After the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released ninety-four Calls to Action in 2015 appealing to governments, organizations and individuals to make concrete changes to redress the legacy of residential schools, the term Indigenization found its way into the Canadian nursing academy’s lexicon. But it hasn’t been easy. “The challenge for the academy has been to reconcile its current practices and values — which have been described by some as inherently rooted in colonialism — with the ideals of Indigenization,” Essien explains. As part of her PhD program, Essien’s research will also engage in a critical analysis of key documents that are framing the discourse of Indigenization within the nursing academy.

Essien is grateful of the award that will make all this work possible. “It’s very humbling,” she says. “It validates me and my work and makes me feel that other people recognize it as important.”

In October 2019, Essien received a grant from Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre (IPHRC) and the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient Oriented Research (SCPOR) Research Awards Program to pursue her studies and research. 

Northern Health and Wellness Days expands to include nursing students.

By Iryn Tushabe

Posted: October 7th, 2019


Third year student nurse Kamille Moyer knows a whole lot more about life in Northern Saskatchewan after participating in Northern Health and Wellness Days.

 ”I was really surprised by how open the students were in terms of talking about their mental health challenges,“says Moyer, one of five SCBScN students who travelled to the Northern communities of La Loche and Clearwater River Dene Nation as part of an interprofessional education (IPE) experience, which included faculty and students from Sask Polytech’s dental program, a psychiatry resident, and dental professionals from across the province. “As well, I didn’t realize the extent of the shortage of resources up there. There were people who hadn’t had dental care in over twenty years.”

Left to Right: Anna Smith, Chelsey Briere, Jana Lajeunesse, Kiane Desnomie and Kamille Moyer

Moyer says the trip north validated her intention to be a nurse working in northern Saskatchewan. “You hear about it and form opinions based on that, but you don’t get the full picture until you experience the community yourself,” she says, explaining she was touched by the kindness and generosity of the community members.

Northern Health and Wellness Days began as Northern Dental Days. Monica Gretchen, a faculty member with the SCBScN program says she first heard about the event at a speaker series with Dean Lefebvre. Lefebvre is instructor in the Dental Hygiene program at Sask Polytech who led the project. “He was sharing about this wonderful event that he was a part of and I saw an opportunity for it to be bigger,” says Gretchen, who is part of an IPE committee tasked with integrating IPE into the SCBScN curriculum. “So I asked if we could link in our students that are in the mental health rotation.

Volunteer dentists, dental therapists, dental assistants, and dental hygienists, as well as a psychiatry resident worked alongside students and faculty in clinics that ran September 27th and 28th in La Loche and Clearwater River Dene Nation. Ninety nine members of those communities were provided blood glucose checks, education, oral health assessments, hygiene care, restorations, extractions, nutritional, and oral health education.

According to Jaime Mantesso, a University of Regina’s faculty member involved in this initiative, the team visited and interacted with over 380 students in order to provide health education, focusing on mental health and oral wellness. “We talked with the students and community members and got to know their needs,” says Mantesso, who is a mental health instructor. “We worked on different stress-reduction skills and breathing techniques — simple skills for promoting mental health — recognizing that we were only able to stay for three days.

Mantesso says nursing students and dental students had the opportunity to work with and learn alongside each other in an interprofessional environment. “At the end of each day we took time to reflect and share our thoughts about the day,” she explains, adding it was incredibly humbling to witness the dismal access to healthcare that the people of Northern Saskatchewan endure. “We take for granted our neighbourhood medical clinics, ability to book into a dentist's office merely blocks away, and our access to affordable healthy foods.

Mantesso expresses a deep gratitude for being welcomed so graciously by the Dene people in the North. Her sentiments resonate with Gretchen who explains that over the next year, this new relationship will be cultivated and strengthened to better meet the needs of Northern Saskatchewan communities.

Every Child Matters: The Faculty of Nursing remembers Indigenous children who attended residential schools

Posted: September 30th, 2019

Orange Shirt Day Saskatoon September2019 Orange Shirt Day Regina September2019

Left to Right Saskatoon Campus and Regina Campus

De-stigmatizing breastfeeding in public spaces.

By Iryn Tushabe

Posted: September 6th, 2019

Shela Hirani U of R Photo

Mothers are often made to feel uncomfortable while breastfeeding in public, and Dr. Shela Hirani would like to change that. “People from various cultural backgrounds may have certain unfavourable views about mothers feeding their babies in public spaces like the workplace, restaurants, airports or in the mall,” says the new associate professor and lactation consultant, “But it’s a vital aspect of parenting and an essential source of nutrition for infants.”

Hirani has spent the last few years of her academic career promoting the implementation of supports as well as policy recommendations for breastfeeding mothers in diverse care settings, especially those living in disaster relief camps and breastfeeding mothers who are in the workforce or studying.

In 2016, as part of her PhD studies at the University of Alberta, she was awarded the prestigious Vanier scholarship, which enabled her to travel back to her native Pakistan and conduct important research on facilitators and barriers related to breastfeeding practices among displaced mothers. Her passion to serve breastfeeding mothers affected by disaster and displacement took her to Chitral, northern Pakistan, where glacial lake outbursts and subsequent earthquakes had displaced thousands of families the year before.

“People were living in tents and makeshift shelters up on the mountain because the accumulated debris had made it impossible for them to rebuild their homes,” she explains. Getting to and from the disaster relief camp meant six hours of treacherous hiking daily, but Hirani was up to the task.

The dire living conditions in the disaster relief camp gave her pause. The community lacked a basic healthcare system, proper sanitation facilities and there was no supply of clean water.

“They were living fifteen people to a shelter because families there are large,” she says. “Even smaller spaces were cramped; no privacy whatsoever.”

One of her main discoveries was that relief aid donated dried milk and infant formula to mothers, but it wasn’t accompanied with proper instructions for use.

“Some of the mothers were using the formula to make cultural tea and they were offering that to the whole family, including kids under six months old.” Hirani adds that because supplies were minimal, she witnessed mothers rationing the powder, mixing, for example, one scoop into a whole lot of water.

According to Hirani, the donation of infant formula to disaster-stricken communities common even in Canada. “Of course there are some mothers who, for various reasons, must rely entirely or partially on formula to feed their infant,” she says. “But those mothers who are breastfeeding should be supported to continue doing so even when disaster strikes.” Such supports, Hirani says, could include safe spaces for breastfeeding, guidance and counselling, and context-appropriate humanitarian aid from relief agencies.

Hirani hopes that recommendations from her research will continue to shape policies and inform the development of programs that meet the specific needs of breastfeeding mothers, especially those living in disaster relief camps.

Her job description as an associate professor includes teaching, research and community services. “I would like to build on my work in the community, especially with vulnerable and marginalized populations of immigrants and refugee mothers, as well as young children in Canada,” she says.

In teaching, Hirani says she will focus on diversity since nursing jobs are increasingly diverse and no longer limited to a hospital setting. “I’m hoping to bring my students to an appreciation of evidence-based practices so that whatever they learn throughout their degree program, they will confidently and enthusiastically integrate it into their places of work,” Hirani says.

Nursing instructor involved in organizing inaugural Men’s Night.

By Iryn Tushabe

Posted: August 22nd, 2019

YXE Mens Night provided necessities to Saskatoon men

A recent event in Saskatoon responded to the service and support needs of men living in that city’s core neighbourhood. The first of its kind, Men’s Night treated the men to a night out at the White Buffalo Youth Lodge gymnasium where they were served dinner and invited to help themselves to clothes collected through a clothing drive prior to the event, and personal care items including soap, lotion, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, new underwear and socks. Some of the men also walked away with free haircuts.

YXE Mens Night provided necessities

"We noticed that there was a large gap with services to men,” said nursing instructor DominiqueRislund, who initiated and organized the event alongside friend and social worker, Brittany Houk. Other members of the grassroots committee included Craig McCallum, Kim Robson, Elizabeth Plishka, Michael Linklater, and Jaris Swidrovich. Rislund, who comes from a perinatal background, explained, “I see a lot of community initiatives with resources for women, children, new moms, but not a whole lot of support for men."

332 men attended the event, surprising the organizers who hadn’t known what kind of turnout to expect. Rislund said that though the massive turnout put a strain on resources, it contributed to the overall success of the event. “Some of the men brought their children out, so it was a warm and friendly atmosphere with kids running around the gym,” she added.

The biggest challenge, according to Rislund, was money. Organizers barely had enough cash donations to squeak by, but they did. “We have evidence that there’s need for the services that we were offering,” Rislund said, adding she’s hopeful that subsequent events will receive substantial sponsorships

Rislund said she was grateful to the volunteers who helped out at the event, including SCBScN students Kelsey Arnelien, Allora Teskey, and Ricki Nunweiler. “I put them in charge of the nutrition area, them being familiar with hand hygiene and all that kind of stuff.”

Though future Men’s Night events may not look like this first one, Rislund said the organizers will plan to put on something similar “to celebrate the men living in the core community."

Bilingual professor’s research awarded external grant

By Iryn Tushabe

Posted: July 16th, 2019

Leones CNFS grant story 2 July 2019

A study that will analyze the home service and care needs of the French minority population in rural and urban Saskatchewan has received a major funding boost from Fonds national de recherche du Consortium national de formation en santé (CNFS).

It's very encouraging to receive the support to carry out research of this magnitude," says Dr. Léonie Mvumbi Mambu, who is heading the qualitative study whose ultimate objective is to keep French minorities in their homes and communities longer. "We want to give them a voice to express themselves and tell us what they need in order to age in their homes, rather than rushing to care home facilities."

In the initial prospective study funded by Le Réseau Santé en Français de la Saskatchewan (RSFS), Mvumbi Mambu visited and established connections within French communities in rural and urban South Saskatchewan, including in Regina, Bellegarde, Redvers, Gravelbourg, Ponteix, and Moose Jaw. In those early conversations, she says, community members expressed a yearning to grow older in their homes but cited age-related health issues and mobility concerns as major barriers.

"So now I know who to approach in those communities," she says, adding community leaders will help her identify individual senior citizens to interview at length. Through the interview process due to begin in the fall, residents will talk about their home service and care needs as well as how they would like them delivered. Analyzing that data will result in a comprehensive document that Mvumbi Mambu will disseminate and present to decision makers, lead ing, hopefully, to impl ementation.

As a researcher, Mvumbi Mambu is interested in  Leones CNFS grant story 2 July 2019 primary health care, healthcare acces s and education as  pertaining to vulnerable communities, especially immigrants. A t the University of Sherb rooke, her doctoral research examined the factors influencing care trajectories among African immigrants living with HIV in Quebec. Soon after arriving at the University of Regina where she's an assistant professor in the Bilingual Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing (SCBScN) program, she started making connections with the local Francophone community, which planted the seeds for this current project.

A research assistant assigned to her through the faculty's Nursing Undergraduate Research Internship Program (NURIP) helped Mvumbi Mambu get started on the process of reviewing the existing literature. "It's definitely harder for French-speaking seniors, especially in rural communities, to make themselves sufficiently understood to healthcare providers," she explains, citing the literature. The reviewed data also shows, she adds, that people (French-speaking minorities in this case), as they age, tend to revert to their mother tongues, making it a barrier when health services are predominantly provided in English. "They don't have the literacy or terminology to express their symptoms to English speaking professionals," adds Mvumbi Mambu.

But there's hope now with the SCBScN bilingual option. "Our wish is that the bilingual students, when they graduate, will stay in the community," she says. "That's why we're working so hard to connect them with community organizations so that the community members will benefit from our bilingual program.

Internship program introduces nursing students to research and scholarship.

By Iryn Tushabe

Posted: June 20th, 2019

Hailey Ann Rebecca Nurip

Left to Right as Hailey Silversides, Dr. Ann-Marie Urban, Rebecca Morash

“I’m really interested in understanding the process of research,” says Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing Rebecca Morash after her first week in the Nursing Undergraduate Research Internship Program (NURIP). The forth year student nurse says there have been times during clinical placements when she’s found herself thinking, “This could be better somehow.”

Now she’ll spend this summer getting hands-on experience helping faculty members with ongoing research projects including Dr. Léonie Mvumbi Mambu who is researching the French-language bilingual SCBScN program that began last fall. She will also assist in another study co-authored by Dr. Shauna Davies and Dr. Sherry Arvidson, on factors affecting Indigenous student success.

“So we’re currently starting the literature review on that,” explains Hailey Silversides, the other student participating in the internship program and who is working on the same project. “We’re also researching journals where they could publish their findings, and we’re putting together the poster presentation for when they (faculty members) go to conferences.”

Silversides is also helping out with Dr. Vivian Puplampu’s research which will focus on the experiences of ageing in immigrants from African countries.

Now in its fifth year, the Faculty of Nursing, NURIP hires students interested in further developing their research and scholarship skills and assigns them to work directly with nursing faculty doing research.

Getting into the literature review, applying for funding, working with the team to develop individual roles — these are all aspects of the research process that NURIP co-ordinator Dr. Ann-Marie Urban hopes the students will get immersed into. “Just this morning we were talking about what’s involved in applying for ethics approval,” she says, adding that someone from the Research Ethics Board will be talking to the students about this important step in the research process.

In addition to their jobs as research assistants, the students will participate in scholarship sessions with faculty members, provincial nurse leaders, individuals from the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and the university librarian. They’ll enjoy special presentations from guests including Mary Martin-Smith, Saskatchewan’s Chief Nursing Officer as well as from Cindy Smith, the Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association (SRNA). The students will be involved in the Canadian Doctoral Nursing Network Conference (CDNN) taking place June 10 and 11 on campus, and they will participate in the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient Oriented Research – Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) modules in June.

“The idea is to expose the students to various realms of nursing,” says Urban, explaining that the profession is broad beyond the clinical practice which employs the majority of nurses. She adds that the internship is a transformative experience for the students different from the classroom. “Besides research, they’re learning how to organize their days, setting up meetings with faculty, solving problems.”

Being in the department in the capacity of an employee is exciting for Matthew Nordin, a first-year nursing student participating in NURIP through the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. Having been awarded an Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Nordin is assisting Dr. Abigail Wickson-Griffiths in her research focused on the importance of communication in long-term care, palliative care and end of life care. Nordin says he’s looking forward to collecting data through literature reviews, focus groups and interviews. “It’s really cool being able to work alongside these amazing professors,” he says. “You get to see what they do behind the scenes outside of teaching in the classroom.”

The Nursing Undergraduate Research Internship Program provides students with a unique experience that not only fosters their research and scholarship abilities, but broadens their perspective of the nursing profession as a whole.

RN as Scholar

a specialist in a particular branch of study

By Originally posted SRNA News Bulletin

Posted: January 31st, 2019


RN as Scholar: Joan Wagner

A sense of curiosity is what led Dr. Joan Wagner, PhD and RN, into the field of research. Upon earning her nursing undergraduate degree in 1973, she worked as a direct care provider in both hospital and community settings until entering the formal teaching realm when she completed her PhD in 2010. “I am a very curious person, and, as a critical thinker, who is also a care provider, it is natural that I ask a lot of questions about health care,” says Wagner. “These questions led me to research.”

Her most recent research project, “Synergy in the ER: Improving Emergency Department Care and Provider and Patient Outcomes Using a Synergy Tool Website:,” spawned from a policy direction of the Government of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health. In 2016, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health put forth a goal to reduce emergency department patient wait times by 60 percent, and to overall improve patient flow within the department, reducing patient length of stay. Emergency departments across the country are frequently congested, so exploring emergency departments and management of patient care delivery and staff workloads can uncover significant systems issues, benefiting an entire organization. Wagner notes that the issues are cyclical and can impede patient outcomes.

“Congestion increases a patient’s time to be seen by nurses and doctors. Patients get frustrated and leave, resulting in unnecessary, adverse outcomes. Patient overcrowding is associated with increased patient morbidity and mortality.” Wagner goes on to explain that emergency department congestion and overcrowding is also associated with health care provider dissatisfaction and turnover. “Nurses and physicians experience undue moral distress from their inability to provide safe, quality care.”

With the 60 percent reduction target in mind, Wagner, in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Health Authority executive and clinical emergency department leadership, the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses and nurse researchers from the University of Regina, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Manitoba and the University of British Columbia, began to investigate the impact of the synergy tool, a real-time staffing tool on patient care delivery and nurse workload management, within two Regina hospital emergency departments. The synergy tool itself has been implemented in acute care, community health care, residential care and mental health care settings across Canada and the United States but, Wagner notes, has never been implemented in an emergency department. Eager to improve the experience in Saskatchewan emergency departments, the research team set out to evaluate the impact of the synergy tool with respect to describing patient outcomes, describing organizational outcomes (including human resource utilization, such as nurse overtime, absenteeism and turnover), quantifying patient care requirements (including determining alternate services that can be provided in a more appropriate and less costly environment), identifying nurse perceptions of quality, safe care delivery and team work, and disseminating findings to improve patient wait times and patient flows to other emergency departments in the Canadian health care system as a whole.

With a keen interest in developing healthy workplaces in health care practices, Wagner’s research “holds promise as a means for emergency department clinical leadership and nurses to determine patient priority needs in real time. It is a patient-centered model focusing on patient care.” Although the research is still ongoing, the potential impact thus far is encouraging— Wagner notes that the synergy tool has encouraged nurses to look at the patient in a more holistic manner, enabling care providers to better assess required resources than some diagnoses initially suggest. As the research unfolds and results are interpreted, Wagner will work with her research partners to incorporate this knowledge into health care practice in Saskatchewan.