49 Langarans

49Langaran

Patricia Woods

Current Employee | Nurse Educator

When Patricia Woods started her PhD at the University of Victoria School of Nursing, just shy of turning 60, she was planning to build on a highlight of her long career.

Woods has more than 35 years of experience as a nurse and another two decades of experience as a nurse educator. The former assistant chair of the Langara College Nursing department counts co-leading the school’s smoke-free campus initiative as one of the most significant accomplishments.

As co-chair of the school’s Smoke-free Committee, she worked for three years to protect the tens of thousands of students who walk the campus every year from the dangerous health effects of secondhand smoke.

“That policy change was so powerful in terms of health promotion and prevention,” Woods said. “I went into the PhD thinking I’d be doing more work around smoke-free communities and policies.”

Thinking about policies got Woods thinking about decision-making processes, and she realized that nurses aren’t always included.

“Who is making policy decisions, what are they basing them on and why aren’t nurse leaders more influential at the policy table?” Woods asked, adding that she wanted to study how nurse leaders, such as chief nursing officers, or nurses who work for a health authority or the government, develop political competency in policy making.

“It’s very clear that nurses are either very underrepresented at the policy table or, when they are at the policy table, their voices are under-recognized and undervalued.”

Also inspired by the Nursing Now World Health Organization campaign, Woods decided to broaden her PhD to focus on ensuring that nurses and midwives have a more prominent voice in health policy-making, because they have deep understandings of how policies are operationalized on the ground.

“Nurses are the ones looking after people in the hospitals and in the community, and seeing how policies are enacted at the individual level,” she said. “The bean counters aren’t the ones at the bedside 24/7 or in peoples’ homes managing their care.”

For example, in addition to health economists with their cost-benefit analyses, Woods said nurses should be involved in decision-making about the supply of long-term care beds.

“Long-term care is a huge policy issue that people don’t seem to be that aware of,” Woods said, adding that in B.C. in March 2018 alone, there were about 1,400 people waiting for long-term care admission.

“Even though the current demand exceeds the supply, there has been a minimal increase in the number of long-term care beds from 2014 to 2018. The number of publicly-funded beds increased 2 per cent while the seniors population aged 75 or older grew 14 per cent.”

So far Woods is working on the methodology and theological framework for her broader PhD topic. She is the oldest person in her cohort by about 15 years, but she said she feels welcomed.

“It’s great. My cohort are all wonderful,” she said. “We all value each others’ professional and lived experiences and they never make me feel older.

“Not that there is anything wrong with increasing age, as it comes with increasing wisdom, at least I hope so.”

Courtesy of Black Press Media

49 Facts — NO. 35

Langara has partnership, exchange, and transfer agreements with universities across Canada and around the world, including Queen’s University in Ontario, Griffiths University in Australia, and the University of Sussex in England.

Meet more 49 Langarans.

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    Current Employee | Science Educator

    Gerda is the Dean of Science at Langara. She started at the College in 1977 as a Biology Instructor and has gone on to take on roles of ever increasing responsibility, including Biology Department Chair, Math & Sciences Division Chair; Education Council Chair. From her contributions to the Langara Academic Plan process; one of the founders of the 49 Women in Science giving circle; a champion for the creation of the Langara Retirees group; and her committee work as a member of the BC Council on Admissions and Transfer, as well as countless other committees, Gerda has left an indelible mark on Langara. Outside of the College, she is an active community volunteer for education and social justice causes; volunteering her time to run girls’ clubs for local Mennonite Churches; assist transition house residents to access post-secondary education; and do committee work on the bi-national (US & Canada) Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary Board. Gerda holds a Bachelor of Science and a Masters in Botany from UBC.

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    Retired Employee | Professional Development Advocate

    Gail worked in a number of roles during her time at Langara, including Nursing Instructor, coordinator for the Langara Employee Development Centre, Administrator of the Nursing program, and Manager of Nursing’s professional development funds. A program pioneer, she was part of the College’s first International Nursing program and First Nations Continuing Studies pilot project. An alumna of Langara and a former Falcons volleyball player, she continues to be an ardent supporter of the College and the Falcons. She is an active member of the Langara Retirees Steering Committee, and volunteers more than 900 hours annually to organizations such as the Vancouver Aquarium, Easter Seal, Operation Red Nose, and Soccer Canada. In recognition of her work, she has received the 2012 Langara Leadership Award, Andre Tse Service Award, and multiple Richmond Mayor’s Sustainability and Environmental Awards.

  • Audrey Tolhurst

    Audrey Tolhurst

    Retired Employee | Nurse Educator

    Audrey began her career as a Nurse Instructor in the Langara Nursing department in 1972. Audrey graduated from the Montreal General Nursing program in 1966. She earned a Bachelor of Nursing in 1971 from McGill University, and a Masters of Education, Higher Education in 1995 from UBC. She was present for the first graduating cohort of the Nursing program, and later, was involved in the College offering a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Throughout her 35 years at Langara, she was responsible for many innovative curriculum changes and served as Curriculum Coordinator, Department Chair, and dedicated Instructor. She was also involved in Langara Nursing’s partnership with the University of Victoria. Audrey was an ambassador for the Nursing department on multiple provincial committees, and has served on several school committees. She was highly respected by faculty, many of whom she mentored, and was known as a nurturing, caring, and passionate instructor. Audrey’s incredible influence has touched hundreds of instructors and thousands of nurses.

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