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CPSI Share                                                  
5/11/2020 7:00 AM

Chris PowerThe World Health Organization declared 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. In Canada, National Nurses Week takes place in the second week of May. During all the pressures and uncertainty of COVID-19, we have relied on nurses at the front lines of healthcare more than ever before – in these stories, we celebrate our staff, friends, and partners who have chosen this heroic life of sacrifice and service.

“When I was in nursing,” said Chris Power, CEO of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. “I had the unique privilege of being in people’s lives at their most vulnerable times. In their happiest moments, or to hold their hands while they died, I was part of an inside look in so many lives.”

Chris Power graduated in 1977 with a four-year degree in Nursing from Mount St. Vincent and started work immediately at the Old Halifax Infirmary. As one of only three nurses there with a degree, she found herself recommended for supervisory or management roles.

Eventually, that progress led her to her work as CEO of Capital Health in Halifax for nine years. When that role ended, she took the final professional position she will hold before retirement – the pan-Canadian, patient safety advocacy role with CPSI.

While she misses the patient contact that was a priority for her throughout her career – as nurse, manager, or CEO, she made sure she spoke to a patient every day – there are so many benefits to her position. However, when she is asked for her advice on career paths for young people, she always recommends nursing.

“Nursing is the best training you can get,” Chris stated. “A nurse learns but is also trained in resiliency. We problem-solve, juggle tremendous workloads, figure out workarounds, and must display both leadership and followership. It grounds you so much. I take my lessons in listening, collaboration, and observation and still use them every day.”

This training, along with their position as the healthcare providers who engage with patients more than any other, means that nurses have enormous roles to play in patient safety. Whether in community care, hospitals, or long-term care, their training is what keeps patients and themselves safe.

In fact, Chris’ nursing training helped prepare her for even this unprecedented pandemic.

“As a nurse, you must be ever ready for a crisis,” she said. “A patient gets sicker, a cardiac arrest – you have to be adaptive every single day. I’ve also provided leadership through a number of crises – SARS, H1N1, and SwissAir.” Her best advice, even during this global panic, is to not sweat the small stuff. Stay calm, collect the best evidence, and apply it. “I developed a plan for myself, for my family, and for CPSI,” Chris said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel and this too shall pass.”

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute honours the efforts of all nurses – indeed, all healthcare providers – across Canada and around the world. They are some of our strongest advocates for patient safety and patient care. The safety of patients is absolutely essential to proper healthcare, and we rely on nurses every day.

Thank you.