Significant nursing figures (Part 5/5)

We take a look back at some of the significant nursing figures who have helped change the face of the registered nursing profession.

From 1964 to 1998, Provincial Council selected a nurse who did something particularly exceptional for honourary membership, which would make them a member for life, as a symbol of their extraordinary work as a nurse.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Frances Sutherland Ferguson

Honourary member, 1974

Frances joined the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps at the beginning of WWII and served in France, Belgium and Holland until 1945. After her discharge, the federal Department of Veterans’ Affairs asked Frances to establish a school for nursing aides in Calgary. Originally open to veterans for post-war training, the school became a model for similar schools across Canada. Under the sponsorship of the Canadian government, Frances established this training program in Sri Lanka.

Her foresight in collecting photographs and histories of the Nursing Sisters of Canada has been significant in documenting the contribution of nurses during both World Wars.

Frances Sutherland Ferguson

Frances Sutherland Ferguson

Elizabeth Bietsch

Honourary member, 1975
President, 1955-1957

Elizabeth (Beth) devoted her efforts to the development of health programs for the people of Medicine Hat. She served as the director of nursing at Medicine Hat Hospital. Before moving to Medicine Hat, Beth worked at the Edmonton General Hospital. She served as head nurse, operating room supervisor and night supervisor before joining the hospital’s education department as assistant director of nursing. Beth was known for assisting her staff in caring for their patients before attending to the administrative demands of her position.

Elizabeth Bietsch

Elizabeth Bietsch

Kate Colley

Honourary member, 1965
President, 1936-1940

Kate became one of the first nurses to take a public health nursing course at the University of Alberta. Appointed in 1923 as a provincial district nurse, Kate travelled the Edmonton area and northwest portion of the province on her horse Paddy. During her first summer as a district nurse, Katie delivered several babies, cleared up lice on children, treated infestations of scabies work camps and injuries including broken legs and lacerations.

Katie took a postgraduate course in public health nursing at Columbia University, and upon her return in 1929, became director of public health nursing and inspector of hospitals in Alberta until her retirement. Kate was one of the first nurses to use broadcasting in health promotion. In the 1930s, she initiated broadcasts over the radio on health hygiene, nutrition and child welfare.

Kate Colley

Kate Colley

Jean Innes

Honourary member, 1993

Jean earned a reputation as one of Canada’s foremost educators and leaders in community health nursing. She was one of the editors of the book Community Health Nursing in Canada, and has served as a primary health-care consultant in countries such as Iceland and Ghana.

She has been a consultant to Alberta government committees and seniors groups. Jean was twice elected to the board of the Canadian Nurses Association and chaired the committee planning primary health care workshops. She also chaired several nursing committees in Alberta including the steering committee on alternatives to the current health care system in 1988. After retirement from nursing, she became a champion for the health and wellness of seniors in Edmonton, serving on task forces, focus groups and planning committees.

Jean Innes

Jean Innes