Interviews with dozens of nurses from wide range of backgrounds
By Gail Donner & Mary Wheeler
January 3, 2023
Can you tell us about Nurses’ Voices?
Nurses’ Voices is a video and audio series created to amplify the voices of Canadian nurses. Over two seasons and 24 episodes — and a third season recently launched — we listened to nurses talking about what was important to them, their struggles, their successes, and their determination to deliver the best care possible to Canadians. We wanted to hear the voices of nurses and understand why they work in such difficult situations, where they get their support, and what brings them joy in tough situations.
It began with our determination to find a way to support colleagues early in the pandemic. We were frustrated that the media were talking about nurses, but very few were talking to nurses. We wanted to talk to nurses directly to hear them and help them share their stories.
We started Nursing Chats at the beginning of COVID-19 with a small group of Ontario nurses . These discussions exceeded our expectations, and we approached the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) for help turning our chats into a meaningful national program.
CNA approached the Canadian Nurses Foundation (CNF), who agreed to fund the first season of conversations with Canadian nurses from the CNF COVID-19 Fund for Nurses, and Nurses’ Voices was launched with the production support of Cecktor Limited. The Mental Health Commission of Canada also funded an episode on nurses’ mental health in season one, and Pfizer Canada generously funded the second and third seasons.
We have helped amplify the voices of close to 50 incredibly inspiring nurses from across Canada, from students to retirees, with diverse backgrounds and from a variety of care settings.
In the first season we spoke with point-of-care nurses in both staff and management positions about their experience working during COVID-19. Season two was focused on nurses in diverse roles who were leading change and influencing policy.
We hear you’re in the midst of the third season now. What is it focusing on?
As we listened to nurses in the first two seasons, we heard a lot about the amazing work that nurses are doing but also the challenges of working in less-than-optimal situations, particularly not having enough staff to deliver high-quality care.
Already exceeded our expectations
In season three, which launched in November 2022, we’re speaking with nurses who have implemented a program or service with a focus on contributing to solving issues related to the current nursing shortage crisis. We hope that nurses and others who listen will feel encouraged by hearing about these nurse-led solutions and may even find solutions they can implement in their own environments.
The format is a little different from the previous seasons. Each episode is shorter — about 15 minutes. In that time, our guests will identify the problem the initiative is intended to address, describe the initiative, and state what they hope to achieve. Episodes include solutions focused on education, practice, and nurses’ well being.
What do you hope Nurses’ Voices will achieve?
We’ve already exceeded our expectations. Our viewers have spent more than 1,250 hours watching our videos through over 13,000 views listening to our guests talk about their experiences, their aspirations, and their challenges. We’re honoured that the public and other nurses are having the opportunity to hear the positive voices of all the amazing nurses that we have spoken to.
It’s easy to get lost in a sea of negativity about everything that is going wrong with health care and nursing today. We hope that we can offer a message of optimism, highlighting the very real and tangible differences that nurses can and do make in our health-care system. We are, of course, realists — things need to change in our health-care system — but we want to highlight the central and pivotal role that nurses can and must play in those changes.
Where can it be accessed?
Nurses’ Voices is available to watch on our website and across a wide variety of other platforms. You can watch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, and Google Podcasts.
Any final thoughts that you want to share with readers?
It has been a privilege and a powerful experience to listen to nurses talk about nursing, their patients and clients, and their determination to provide the best care possible. And we have been encouraged by the responses from listeners who find the podcasts valuable in their own work.
Nurses have so much to offer to other nurses and to the public; their voices are important. Their stories point the way to identifying the problems with health care today and to providing some of the solutions.
We have heard from nurses who have something to say, but often do not have environments where they can share their experience and be heard. For them, Nurses’ Voices is the perfect platform.
We hope Canadian Nurse readers will find time to watch and listen to these nurses from across Canada, and we would love to hear their feedback. Email us to let us know what you think.
Gail Donner, RN, PhD, FCAN, is a professor emeritus at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, a partner in donnerwheeler, and co-host of Nurses’ Voices.
Mary Wheeler, RN, MEd, is a certified coach, a partner in donnerwheeler, and co-host of Nurses’ Voices.