How many of us have pursued one career path, and then stumbled into another that ended up defining our lives? That’s exactly what happened when Kris Gustavson, corporate director, Accreditation & Patient Experience, walked onto the University of British Columbia campus as a pre-commerce student and walked off as a nurse – a nurse who was recently named one of the best in Canada.
Over the span of Kris’ career, she has held a variety of positions including staff nurse, research coordinator, head nurse, manager, director, adjunct faculty and corporate director, across clinical, academic, research and administrative domains. This year, she is recognized with the highest honour for her accomplishments as a leader in nursing.
Kris says, “I have loved bridging my business and leadership skills with nursing and health care. I am also grateful for the amazing role models, who have and continue to support and inspire me.”
For Kris, becoming a 2021 Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Nursing is a privilege – especially as she joins three other esteemed and dedicated nurse leaders at PHSA.
Since beginning her career in 1987 at the BC Children’s Hospital, Kris has experienced the challenges and opportunities of health care seeing both life and death. Whether French-braiding a patient’s hair before having a visitor or ensuring scientific rigour with patient experience and outcomes measures, Kris fully devotes herself, “knowing that especially in healthcare – people come first.”
Drawing from her experience and expertise, she has successfully built teams and introduced fresh ideas to the groups and organizations she has been involved with over time. Some highlights for Kris are:
- Being appointed by government to the College of Pharmacists of BC Board, where she chaired various committees and worked to safeguard ethics in pharmacy practice and establish a pharmacy professional practice review program.
- Serving on the board of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and chairing the Quality Committee, bringing together her pediatric nursing knowledge, leadership and governance skills.
- Working as a surveyor with Accreditation Canada, contributing to the development of patient safety and quality standards across Canada and internationally in Brazil, Kuwait, Slovenia, Croatia, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Philippines
Kris’ track record is one of service and giving back to health care and the community. These efforts among numerous others have contributed to her recognition as Fellow in 2021.
When it comes to attracting – and retaining – high-calibre health-care workers, PHSA is an overachiever. Since the Canadian Academy of Nursing
was established by the Canadian Nurses’ Association two years ago, PHSA is the only health system in Canada to have four Fellows. It’s a rare honour that isn’t lost on the nursing leaders.
“It’s humbling to be recognized as one of the most accomplished nurses in Canada. You do wonder if you’re really far enough along in your career to receive such a recognition,” says David Byres, president and CEO, who was inducted as a Fellow in 2020. David thinks of his late grandmother, who was also a registered nurse. “She would have been thrilled to hear about this over one of our many Friday lunches together.”
“To have several nursing leaders at PHSA recognized is a testament to the calibre of nursing care, teaching, and research that occurs across the organization,” says David.
“It was a tremendous honour and it felt like a great culmination and coming together of the many different roles I’ve had the privilege of having over the years,” says Natasha Prodan-Bhalla, interim vice-president, Professional Practice and Chief Nursing Executive, who was also named a Fellow in 2020. Having always wanted to be a nurse, Natasha still maintains a clinical practice at BC Women’s Hospital + Heath Centre 20 years later, while serving on PHSA’s Executive team.
“This is a true reflection of the positive culture and support that is provided at both the program and organizational levels at PHSA,” says Natasha.
“I have always appreciated nursing as an intersection between art and science, where you have the privilege of meeting people as they truly are,” says Michele Trask, director, Provincial Programs, BC Cancer, who was inducted as a Fellow in 2020 as well. Michele graduated as a general nurse in 1998 and hasn’t looked back since.
“This element of humanity is what has both drawn me to, and kept me in, the nursing vocation,” says Michele.
From her first day on the job to the present, Kris Gustavson knows that no one succeeds alone. Each person’s unique skills, and the collective work of the team contributes to the patient’s experience and health outcomes. It’s a belief shared by all four recipients that one’s team makes all the difference – on the good days, the hard days and the countless hours in between.
“What I love about my job is I’ve gotten to know so many people, and I’ve learned from everyone,” says Kris. “You all matter to each other, and more importantly, you matter to your patients.”
Kris will be celebrated with the 2021 class of Fellows in a virtual induction ceremony on October 15, 2021.
Congratulations to our Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Nursing, and thank you to all health-care workers who give everything to the patients and clients they serve.