May 27, 2020

Meet UCalgary Nursing's newest faculty member

Q & A: Assistant professor Jennifer Jackson RN, PhD
Jennifer Jackson
Jennifer Jackson

Jennifer Jackson is a registered nurse and assistant professor at the University of Calgary. She joined the Faculty of Nursing in April 2020. 

She has nursing experience in nephrology, intensive care, education, and management. She earned a PhD at the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care, at King’s College London, supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Her research interest is in resilience in people and systems, and workforce and professional issues.

Jackson is also a thought leader on digital technologies in health care. Her projects include using social media for professional action and creating a video game for health-care providers.

She was awarded the St. Catherine Medal of Honour and received the Rising Star Award from the Athabasca University Alumni Association. She hopes to make a positive difference for nurses and patients around the world.

What is your area/speciality/sub speciality of nursing?
"Critical care and management/leadership."

What made you fall in love with nursing?
"I had a great role model growing up who inspired me to be a nurse. I also wanted to help people and nursing is a way to put social justice into action.

I also love that nursing requires all of my interests and talents - it isn’t just one thing. I once recited a passage from Shakespeare (that I was forced to memorize in high school) to an anxious patient while I changed his dressing. How I still knew it, I have no idea! But I love that nursing calls upon all of your strengths as you make connections with people. To me, that makes every day different and rewarding."

Describe a career highlight.
"I am most proud of the times when I have been brave in my career and took chances - like a management position or a chance to study abroad. I have been grateful when I have taken chances and seen them pay off, such as the livetweets of a nursing work project I did. I have also never regretted standing up for a patient or student when I needed to: I have only regretted times that I didn’t."

How many cups of coffee do you drink in a day?
"None! Tea with milk."

What made you choose UCalgary Nursing as your next career move?
"The atmosphere at the university – forward-looking, innovative, willing to take risks. I have worked for other institutions and there is nothing more stifling than “we’ve always done it this way.” The people were also really kind and helpful and that is the most important thing in a workplace."

What sound in your workplace is your favourite?
"Laughter, even if it’s me laughing at my own mistakes!"

What has been the most rewarding experience so far in your career?
"Clinically, working with renal transplant patients was really inspiring. I also loved being a part of patient milestones and trying to have fun with them despite critical illness. For example, I had a patient that was in ICU and couldn’t bend at the waist, so I tucked his hockey jersey around him, and put the bed in Trendelenburg so he could watch the game."

Academically, I value working with students, and seeing them succeed. I love seeing the ‘lightbulb moment’ when they achieve something challenging in their work. It is a uniquely humbling experience.

What is your favourite thing to do in Calgary (when life is normal and/or during the pandemic)?
"I am new to Calgary, so I am still figuring this out! Right now, my garden is my favourite activity."

Given that this is the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, what do you feel is the legacy of Florence Nightingale to the next generation of nurses?
"I could talk about this forever! I went to the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care for my PhD, and felt like I should bow to Florence each time I walked in! She was by no means beyond reproach, but I think her biggest contribution was instilling science into nursing and her system thinking. In addition to creating nursing, she developed epidemiology, graphs (the first ever modern depictions of data), public health, and modern statistics. She started the idea that hospitals should keep track of data and monitor outcomes. She was also a talented architect and designed blueprints for hospital wards, based on her experiences [an early application of evidence to practice]. The “Lady of the Lamp” is a diminutive label: we owe her so much for modern health care."

What is your greatest joy?
"Helping people do something that was a dream of theirs. For example, I hiked to Machu Picchu with my Dad, and took my brother (a language teacher) to see the Rosetta Stone. Cried both times."

What is nursing's next big idea?
"Standing up for ourselves, and demanding that our labour be valued and respected - and properly paid! Nurses in Canada know this and we can lead the world, because beyond our borders, these are revolutionary ideas."

In January 2019, the executive board of the World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the first-ever Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, in honour of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

UCalgary Nursing will be celebrating the year with a variety of activities including a monthly series of reflections on the past and future of nursing and health care from our nursing community.