Spring Convocation ‘21 Spotlight: Dr. Sheila Blackstock

PhD Nursing Grad aims to decolonize hospitals through empowering nurse leaders, new graduate nurses, and nurses to mitigate coworker incivility experiences.

Allie Voisin - 24 June 2021

The University of Alberta’s world-class reputation of being a top university with an exemplary nursing program drew Sheila Blackstock, ‘21 PhD to the Faculty of Nursing for her doctoral studies. 

Blackstock — an Assistant Professor at Thompson Rivers University and a member of the Gitxsan First Nation — was recently appointed to B.C.’s First Nations Health Authority board of governors (FNHA), the In Plain Site Provincial Task Force Team, and has more than  34 years of nursing experience working in leadership positions and in rural and regional Indigenous nursing practice in specialty areas, community health and occupational health nursing. 

She’s no stranger to lifelong learning, albeit being a student while continuing to teach full-time was challenging, not to mention finishing up her last year amidst a global pandemic. 

As the University of Alberta’s Spring Virtual Convocation 2021 nears, Sheila Blackstock reflects back on her doctoral studies and shares her plans for the future through this Q & A. 

What did you focus your graduate research on? 

I focused on the role of oppression in nursing as it related to new graduate nurses, nursing leaders and coworker incivility experiences of new graduate nurses.

What impact do you hope your research makes?

I hope that health care organizations will empower nurses and nurse leaders through increased control over their patient workloads. When nurse leaders are given formal authority in their job role to control nursing workloads, it will lead to decreased coworker incivility experiences.

You are actively involved in Indigenous Health research. What are some of the pathways to improving health with Indigenous peoples?

The road ahead includes addressing racism in health care through a decolonizing approach that is nation-based and community-focused.

Do you have any words of advice for students beginning their graduate studies?

Practice good self-care and lean on your peers and family for advice and guidance. 

Any plans for the future?

I will be building a program of research using a decolonizing lens to view the incivility experiences of nurses and continue to work with the FNHA and Indigenous communities. I would like to work in a high-level position in the Ministry of Health to empower nurses and develop the Blackstock model of empowerment of nursing practice using a decolonizing lens. I am also focusing on spending any spare time outdoors doing sports, activities with friends, family, and with my lab puppy named “Dr.” Pepper. Pepper was a gift to myself for completing my PhD!

Anything more you’d like to add?

I am so honoured to have completed my PhD at UAlberta and look forward to supporting other PhD and Master's students in their studies.