Leigh Chapmanan alumnus of the University of Toronto’s Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, was recently named the nation’s Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), marking the return of a role that was eliminated more than a decade ago year.
The reinstatement of the position at the federal level is applauded by nurses and nursing organizations across the country, as it puts nursing voices and expertise at the forefront of health policy and health care decision-making. .
It also comes as Canada grapples with unprecedented challenges in the nursing workforce.
“I am humbled and honored to have this opportunity to represent nurses at the federal level,” says Chapman, who completed her doctorate in 2019. “I believe having a seat at the table is critical when making decisions. taken regarding our profession and I look forward to working closely with the provinces and territories to address the challenges of our health care system.
The role of the Federal Chief Nursing Officer and the Office of Nursing Policy was eliminated in 2011 as part of a deficit reduction plan. With the reinstatement of the role, Chapman says she hopes she will also be able to restore confidence in the nursing profession and inspire those who are demoralized by the current difficulties they face.
Chapman’s appointment follows Ontario’s recent decision to Karima Veljialso an alumnus of the Lawrence S. Bloomberg School of Nursing, Chief of Nursing and Professional Practice (CNPP) and Assistant Deputy Minister of the province.
A registered nurse for 19 years, Chapman says she is focusing on aspects of health human resource management as she settles into her new role. Describing herself as never one to back down from a challenge, she adds that she is eager to take on urgent tasks such as retaining and recruiting nurses and integrating internationally educated nurses into Workforce. It also seeks to be a stabilizing force for the nursing workforce within the health care system in the provinces and territories.
“There are more than 400,000 nurses in four different categories of licensure or registration across the country, more than any other health care profession,” Chapman says. “It is essential that we have a say in health human resource planning and in our future as a profession.
Nursing was Chapman’s second degree and one she was drawn to because of the role’s ability to touch people’s lives. Nurses, according to Chapman, make a difference every day, whether at an individual’s bedside or in the lives of their family, in the classroom by influencing change for nursing students or in nursing positions. formal leadership motivating and inspiring their colleagues.
“Bloomberg Nursing at U of T welcomes Leigh Chapman’s expertise in this important leadership role,” says Linda Johnson, dean of the Lawrence S. Bloomberg School of Nursing. “His advocacy, past research and understanding of health policy will be an incredible asset to the nursing workforce and the health of all Canadians.”
As part of her PhD at Bloomberg Nursing, Chapman studied the relationship between regulatory bodies and health profession employers and spent much of her career focusing on health professions education and, more specifically, nursing education. She was also a Fellow of the Wilson Center, an institution recognized for its role in advancing health professions education through research.
While completing her doctorate, Chapman experienced a personal tragedy – the death of her brother from an opioid overdose – which led her to become an advocate for harm reduction strategies. Because of her advocacy work, her journey to completing her PhD would not have been possible without the support of her PhD Advisory Board, she says, which helped her broaden her thinking, analytical skills and his understanding of where and how his research fits into the broader healthcare landscape.
“My time at the University of Toronto was so effective in instilling confidence in me,” says Chapman. “Most graduate students have moments of impostor syndrome, where they wonder if they’re actually going to finish it. I would say the confidence in me as a leader, as a health policy advocate, m was instilled by the faculty at Bloomberg Nursing, and it’s something I will take with me in the role of CNO.
She hopes Chapman’s eclectic career path in nursing will inspire other nurses to think more broadly about their impact in the profession and in health care.
“That’s what’s exciting about our profession, there’s a lot you can do in nursing,” Chapman says. “By making a difference, by being a leader, together we have the ability to change the future of nursing and health care.”