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How the Calling All Nurses podcast is making change in challenging times

Retired trio of nurses tap into wealth of knowledge of next generation of nursing leaders

By RaeAnn Hartman, Martha Russell, & Betty Tate
February 5, 2024
Courtesy of Calling All Nurses podcast
Martha Russell, Betty Tate, and RaeAnn Hartman created the Calling All Nurses podcast to connect and hear others’ stories and voices, an opportunity they had growing up in nursing, but one that has significantly shifted over the past 10 to 15 years.

Can you tell us about the Calling All Nurses podcast?

As three retired nurse educators, we knew we still had something to say and contribute. Tapping into the wealth of nursing leadership as we know it was how we got to the production of Calling All Nurses, a podcast that challenges common perceptions of the work nurses do.

The podcast is a platform for nurses to connect and hear others’ stories and voices, an opportunity we had growing up in nursing, but one that has significantly shifted over the past 10 to 15 years for the latest generation of nurses due to regulatory changes that took place provincially and nationally. In this respect, our guests describe the most important aspect of their work and leadership as building community and relationships, and creating spheres of influence that are communities of practice. We couldn’t agree more.

What are some highlights from your first season?

The first season of Calling All Nurses offers eight episodes, each episode speaking with a nurse who is bringing about change in the health of our communities, often under demanding conditions. In season 1, podcast guests discuss a wide range of important issues that affect human health, such as Indigenous Peoples’ experiences, the toxic drug supply, health care and planetary health, mental health and wellness, public health, and current challenges in acute care.

The guests themselves summarize the content of season 1 as “a love letter to nursing,” and an overarching theme is their inspiration and gratitude experienced as professional nurses, strongly inviting others to consider nursing as a profession. In this regard, when nursing is suffering such a human resource crisis, these stories are timely, positive and a reminder of how we, as individuals, landed in nursing as a profession but, more importantly, why we stay and continue to engage with all aspects of nursing.

In our first season, one of our guests was Shanyn Simcoe, a leader in community nursing and the toxic drug poisoning crisis. She described living the new, modern version of the nurse and leadership that includes improving outcomes for people, honouring colleagues, making change, and being politically active altogether, all the time.

Laura Hoyseth, another guest and public health nursing leader, follows up to say that nursing is leadership at all levels. Nursing presents the opportunity as soon as the graduate steps into the professional role.

Josh Duncan, an acute care nurse and graduate transition leader, describes the devastating effects of nurses losing their community of colleagues due to multiple factors in health care right now.

These examples, along with our other guests in season 1, clearly articulate their leadership, telling us why relationship building and collaboration is so important in nursing today, as is pushing back against erosion of collaborative processes. Collaborating, forming egalitarian relationships, and active learning collectively expand their influence as leaders.

Are there more plans for subsequent seasons, and what do they include?

Absolutely! We are getting ready to go to press with season 2 early this year, broadening what we talked about in season 1. We want to continue to hear about leadership or change initiatives that work.

We are focusing on guests with provincial or national influence and highlighting some of the context that makes this podcast unique, that of Western Canada and B.C. specifically. Listening to others that share nursing content provincially or nationally, we recognize what a great opportunity we have with this podcast — an active, living, online means of collaboration!

We are keen to share what is new, innovative and working. For example, B.C. is the only province with a non-governmental, provincewide First Nations Health Authority. How did it come to be? How is it structured and governed, and how does it work? This sort of content can plant seeds across the country, piquing interest and the curiosity of others. That is what motivates us for season 2.

What do you want Calling All Nurses to achieve?

As nurse educators, we know that students have excitement, enthusiasm, engagement and motivation. What amazed us is how this enthusiasm is harnessed throughout their undergraduate studies and moved forward as they transition to practice.

The season 1 guests’ ability and dynamic capacity to make real change was what we started with, recognizing early on the opportunity for learning with and from each other. Creating connections through a podcast builds collegial relationships, which is the heart of nursing. Nurses learn and grow with each other. And particularly after the pandemic, we needed an antidote to news about jaded or burnt-out nurses, which cannot be minimized or thrown on the shoulders of individual nurses.

In a recent webinar, hosted by CNA, featuring Leigh Chapman and Tim Guest, we felt what we were trying to achieve aligns with the current initiatives at CNA and for Canada’s chief nursing officer. The issues of burn-out and nurses deciding to leave the profession are hugely systemic. The voice of nursing is diminished. The organizational supports of networks, communities of practice, and collaborative teams have evaporated, so giving voice was of the utmost importance for us. Much of what we do is shaped by the values of the social determinants of health, social justice and equity, which are central to the nursing profession. These are values we think the public are less aware of and key to understanding health as a system.

As well, the experience of many students, as our guests articulate and represent so well, is how they just “fell” into nursing, never thinking it was for them. And for any listener, it is fun to hear those stories! Everyone knows a nurse.

Where can the podcast be accessed?

Listen to Calling All Nurses by visiting the podcast website or find us on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts!

Any final thoughts that you want to share with readers?

Of course! We want to hear from you. What are your interests? What do you want to know more about?

Our feedback so far is that our interviews resonate with a broad audience — the public and across health professions — so have a listen! We’d love to know what you think! You can find us on Instagram @calling.all.nurses, at our website at, or email us at to comment, inquire or just say hello!

Full disclosure: We are totally grassroots. We receive no funding or remuneration. This is our professional identity, and we know that the best ideas and genuine interests grow around a kitchen table. Welcome to our kitchen table.

Podcast co-hosts RaeAnn Hartman, Martha Russell, and Betty Tate created Calling All Nurses as a way to share their accumulated nursing knowledge after retirement from North Island College in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. As trusted professionals, nurses confront many social factors that impact people’s health and must often challenge the status quo in the health-care system. Sharing the experiences of point-of-care nurses in the current context is a way to inform listeners about the breadth of nursing practice today. Anyone who cares about the future of health care will feel inspired by the determination, resilience and capacity of this new generation of nurses.