As a young child, I knew I wanted to be a nurse , but I had no idea of the diversity of opportunities that a career in nursing would bring. Obtaining my MSN from the UBC School of Nursing was a wonderful experience. I am grateful to my classmates for the camaraderie and shared learnings, and to the dedicated faculty who fostered critical thinking and broadened my perspective of the nursing profession. I am particularly indebted to Verna Huffman Splane for encouraging me to be a life-long learner and to be involved with professional associations as a way to stay current and to contribute to the nursing profession.
My nursing education began in Ottawa with my Mother encouraging me to enter a baccalaureate program. During the summers, as a student I worked in a variety of patient care roles at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. Following my graduation from the University of Ottawa in 1973 there were few jobs available in Ontario for Registered Nurses and I was hired over the phone for a staff nurse role in the ICU of the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria BC. I thought I was going to BC for a year or so, but after 3 years in Victoria I decided to move to Vancouver to pursue my Master’s at UBC. I had done some teaching in the School of Nursing at the Royal Jubilee (prior to it transferring to the college system) and entered the UBC MSN program intending to focus on nursing education as a stream. My course content also focused on nursing practice with me continuing to advance my passion for critical care nursing. However by the end of the MSN, despite the fact that I had not taken an administrative stream , I decided that my career would focus on nursing administration as I felt it would give me the best chance to bring leadership as a change agent.
I worked at St Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver as a staff nurse in critical care, a nurse educator in medical nursing, and a nurse manager (Head Nurse ) in cardiac care. The latter was perhaps the most impactful of all, as I had the opportunity to create a new unit – the first cardiac teaching unit at SPH—to hire and orient the nursing staff, and to develop the patient teaching program. This combined my love of administration and education and prepared me for my next role as Assistant Executive Director at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital in Vancouver. This in turn set me on my path as a nurse executive and exposed me to the governance of organizations and the influence nurse leaders can have at a board level.
As regionalization of health care in BC loomed, the religious women responsible for Catholic Health in BC began their own consolidation. It is interesting to note that some of these religious leaders were also nurses , including a classmate of mine from the University of Ottawa. Mount Saint Joseph, ST. Vincent Hospitals and Youville Residence merged in an effort to ensure that Catholic -based health care remained a relevant contributor to the health system. With this merger, I had an opportunity to be a Vice President of the new organization (known as CHARA) and later as Acting CEO.
When CHARA merged with St Paul’s Hospital and Holy Family to form Providence Health Care in 2000, I returned to St. Paul’s as a VP of Providence Health Care and ultimately was appointed CEO in 2006 – a position I held for the next 12 years. Providence is one of Canada’s largest faith-based health care organizations, and now operates 17 facilities across Greater Vancouver. I was privileged to lead such a prestigious academic organization where I attempted to sustain nurses’ role at the senior table by maintaining a chief executive nurse as part of the senior team. The team had intentional strategies to enhance a values-based culture through integrating professional practice, fostering strong interdisciplinary teams, focusing on patient-centred care, attending to the mental wellness of staff, and advocating for the most vulnerable populations. I am proud of the fact that Providence Health Care /St. Paul’s Hospital was a leader in supporting PhD prepared nurses as Nurse Executives, Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Researchers.
During my administrative career, I kept active in professional associations, bringing leadership as President of the Vancouver Chapter of the Registered Nurses Association of BC (RNABC), President of the Nurse Administrators Association of BC (NAABC), and inaugural President of the Health Administrators Association of BC (the merger of NAABC, Health Administrators of BC, and Care Directors of BC ). This merger was symbolic of a shift to an interdisciplinary and programmatic focus in which nursing leaders moved into roles overseeing interdisciplinary teams caring for specific patient populations.
As I am now retired from my CEO role, I look back with appreciation on the grounding provided to me by the students and facility of the UBC School of Nursing and send my congratulations on the upcoming 100 year anniversary !
Under Dianne’s leadership, Providence Health Care was recognized in 2012 and 2016 as one of B.C.’s Top Employers as well as one of the best employers for new Canadians in 2012. Additionally, Providence was accredited in with Exemplary status by Accreditation Canada in 2013 and 2017. The organization received the Coaching Wise Designation from the International Coaching Federation in 2016 and was listed in BC Business’ Top 100 Companies in 2017.
Dianne has been the recipient of numerous leadership awards including a Lifetime Achievement award from the Health Leaders Association of BC, top 100 Most Powerful Women award from the Women’s Executive Network, and an Award of Distinction from the College of Registered Nurses of BC. She was the inaugural Chair of the BC Health Care Leaders Association. Throughout her career she has also participated on numerous health-related boards (beyond those mentioned above), including HealthCareCan, and Royal Roads University. Most recently, she joined the board of the College of Dental Surgeons of BC as a Ministerial Appointment by the Minister of Health. In addition to these voluntary activities outside of her professional work, Dianne’s values are demonstrated in such activities as her incredible ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money and awareness for the Alzheimer Society of B.C.