Community Mourns Death of Celebrated Emerita, Dr. Peggy Anne Field

Pillar of Nursing Community recognized for life of passion and service

10 February 2021

It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of a pillar of our Faculty of Nursing community, Dr. Peggy Anne Field. Peggy Anne was a celebrated nurse, midwife, educator and scholar. She remained an active emerita of the Faculty of Nursing for the duration of her retirement, where she provided guidance and counsel to generations of nursing leaders. 

Born in Cornwall, England, Peggy Anne studied nursing at Cambridge and completed her midwifery education in London before immigrating to Canada in 1957, where she earned her BScN from McGill in 1964. Upon graduation, Peggy Anne moved to Edmonton to teach at the University of Alberta School of Nursing, with a particular focus on the Advanced Obstetrics Program. 

Committed to lifelong learning, Peggy Anne returned to school in 1968 to pursue a Master’s Degree in Nursing at the University of Washington in Seattle. She subsequently completed a PhD in Education at the University of Alberta under the supervision of Dr. Myer Horowitz, who would later become University of Alberta President. 

Peggy Anne then returned to the University of Alberta Faculty of Nursing and was promoted to full professor in 1981, where she served until her retirement. During this tenure, Peggy Anne had a distinguished career as an educator, advocate, and researcher, breaking down barriers for women and elevating the profession of nursing. In 1984, she was the first woman to receive the University’s highest teaching honour, the Rutherford Award for outstanding teaching. She was also the first woman to receive a prestigious Killam Annual Professorship in 1992. 

Peggy Anne’s honours and awards were many and varied, and include receipt of a McCalla Professorship in 1984; recognition as the Alberta Association of Registered Nurses Nurse of the Year in 1985; and an Association of Women’s Health Obstetrical Neonatal Nursing Award for Excellence from the Alberta/ British Columbia section in 1994. 

Amongst her many accomplishments, Peggy Anne established a neonatal certification as a component of the University of Alberta Faculty of Nursing undergraduate program. She also helped develop the accreditation system for nursing education in Canada in 1987, and in 1995 was named a significant nursing figure by CARNA for exceptional lifelong membership in recognition of her extraordinary work as a nurse. Peggy Anne strongly supported high-quality, well-funded nursing research as essential to public health, with a particular focus on qualitative methodologies. She co-authored one of the first nursing research textbooks on qualitative methods and emphasized that research was not only a systematic way of solving problems but involved, in her own words, “elements of contemplation and creativity” (1986).  

Beyond these honours and achievements, Peggy Anne was renowned for her commitment to the nursing profession and to public health care, particularly in her work on maternal-child health. Her research in postpartum care in the 1980s foreshadowed current research, despite its direct opposition to much-established practice of the era. In her quest to support nursing excellence, she was also a proud co-founder of Mu Sigma Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, empowering nurse leaders to transform global healthcare. 

Peggy Anne was also actively involved with a joint project between the Faculties of Nursing at the University of Alberta and the University of Ghana to develop a master’s program at the latter institution. She helped develop courses and welcomed the opportunity to travel to Accra on two occasions to teach courses on the theoretical foundations of advanced nursing practice and issues in nursing and health care delivery. She also mentored students in the development of their thesis proposals, and was highly regarded by her Ghanaian colleagues for her scholarship and nursing/ midwifery competence.

The University of Alberta Faculty of Nursing was richer for Peggy Anne’s contributions, and her life of service and excellence established the foundations of much contemporary nursing scholarship and education. Perhaps her most enduring legacy will be as a constant champion of the University of Alberta Faculty of Nursing community, where she served as a guide and mentor to generations of nurses, instilling a passion for the profession and a sense of urgency for the work of nursing research. 

While members of our community mourn her death, Dr. Peggy Anne Field’s example remains a source of inspiration for current and future generations of nurses and public health leaders.



If you would like to donate in honour of Peggy Anne to the Faculty of Nursing, please visit our Giving Page and direct your donation to the Peggy & Ivor Field Scholarship Fund. If you have any questions, or require assistance, please reach out to Brianne Thomas, Assistant Dean, Advancement at brianne.thomas@ualberta.ca.

Field, P. (1986). Contemplation, controversy and creativity: Realities in research: Presentation at 'NAACOG District VII and IX Conference', Calgary. November 2 - 6, 1986.

The Faculty of Nursing would like to extend special thanks to Laura Hess, whose research into Dr. Peggy Anne Field's life and career has been instrumental in the writing of this memorial. Her unpublished paper, Peggy Anne Field: Nurse, Midwife, Educator and Scholar, included direct interviews with Dr. Field.