Have you met... Kellie Willie?

New alumni board member Kellie WiIlie looks forward to helping recent nursing grads as they build their own fulfilling careers.

Sasha Roeder-Mah - 18 July 2022

As an eager student in the University of Alberta’s nursing after-degree program, Kellie Willie,’08 BPE,’11 BScN, was inspired by the passion and sense of purpose her instructors radiated, and the feeling of community among her cohort. Today, as an alumni board member representing the grads of the last decade (GOLD), Willie is following her own purpose-driven path to support women’s health as well as the future success of new nursing professionals.

We spoke to Willie about where she’s been since graduation and what her hopes are for the future of the U of A’s Faculty of Nursing.

What inspired you to join the alumni board?

When I was first approached about the idea to be involved on the alumni board, I was nervous! As I learned more about its function, I was so inspired by the connection it would allow me to feel once again to the university — and the opportunity to give back to my alma mater and the nursing profession — that I decided to join. 

How long have you been involved with the board?

I have been involved with the board since November 2021 and I am a member representing the GOLD group.

What are your fondest memories from your time as a Nursing student?

The friends I made and going through the after-degree program together! Whether it was studying late into the evening or doing our clinical rotations, we always knew that we were there for one another and that the hard work would be worth it.

What does it mean to you to help support the nursing leaders of tomorrow?

To me, this is extremely important work. What we do has an impact on the essential, yet sometimes forgotten, transition from university into those initial years of career building. The nursing profession has evolved so much and continues to provide incredible opportunities for varying levels of experience. My hope is that in some small way I can help our nursing graduates be aware of and access the support they need to build their own unique path along their career journey. 

Where has your career taken you since you graduated?

I love sharing that my nursing career has been all that I imagined it would be. It has provided opportunity, flexibility, and variety. I jumped right into obstetrics (labour and delivery) after graduation and absolutely fell in love with the care and compassion we provide families through this incredibly wild and beautiful time. 

When I needed a break from shift work and the hospital setting, an opportunity to be a nurse consultant for provincial policy development proved to be the perfect solution. Then, after a few years back in labour and delivery, I was able to experience being part of the mass immunization clinics for both influenza and COVID-19! I am now finding my home in primary care and enjoying the wide scope and connection-filled lens that it brings. 

Through my career, I have felt a huge calling towards women’s health, and I’m currently working towards being a urogynecological wellness practitioner. I look forward to being able to support those with pelvic floor concerns from a nursing perspective. 

What challenges have you faced in your career?

I am extremely grateful for the path thus far and for the opportunities it has given me. Each stepping stone has guided me towards where I was meant to go next. Now that my career dreams are more clearly in sight, I would say the main barrier is that women’s pelvic health is still a small area, even though it affects so many. I look forward to being part of the shift to learn, educate and make a difference in this important area. 

What are your thoughts on the future of the Faculty of Nursing and how the next crop of alumni can find success?

My vision for the Faculty of Nursing is that it will continue to grow and shift as nursing continues to evolve. That it will recognize the current expectations of nurses and continue to provide the tools and resources necessary to guide its students in a direction of purpose and success. 

I would encourage all nursing students and new alumni to seek their passion and purpose and then to pursue it. We are all given a unique purpose and our curiosity allows it to bloom. 

Alumni who lead in new ways like Kellie Willie are one of the reasons the Faculty of Nursing is ranked #1 in Canada and #9 worldwide. Our nursing community lead cutting-edge work that’s changing the face of global health. If you would like to learn how to get involved with your nursing alumni community, email nualumni@ualberta.ca