I have to admit, I am an odd duck. A fish out of water. An outlier. As the first and currently only non-nurse registrar in Canada, I feel the weight of responsibility in ensuring that I understand and appreciate the profession in its entirety. I also recognize that my non-nurse status affords me the ability to see things through a different lens and offer a unique perspective to nursing regulation. Don’t get me wrong, I could never succeed without the highly knowledgeable nursing staff who help lead this organization each and every day.

I often get asked about why I decided to get involved in regulating nurses, especially when I am not one. My answer is always the same–as a citizen of Canada and of B.C., I value the contribution nurses make to our health care system and our status as one of the healthiest countries in the world. And I value ensuring that nurses are recognized and treated as professionals, which is what CRNBC does when it regulates in the public interest. I know that everyday nurses make a difference in the lives of patients and I appreciate them for it.

As you can imagine, balancing the needs of the public with the context of nursing practice is tough. The health care system is changing. It is changing in response to technology, available funding, the number of skilled professionals, the demographics of patients, the political climate and the expectations of tax payers. Nurses, as the most numerous group of health professionals, some 52,500 in BC, play a significant role in defining the B.C. health care system, contributing to its success and helping chart its future direction. As a regulator, Nursing Week is a great reminder that we must be attuned to the needs and expectations of the public and mindful of the realities of nursing, the system and its challenges.

This year’s theme of Nursing Week (May 12 to 18) is Nurses Leading Change. It presents an opportunity for the nursing community (including those of us who are not nurses) to contemplate how we can be at the forefront of health-care transformation. More than anything I believe this requires regulators, nurses, bargaining units, associations, governments, legislators and employers to not only make changes, but make them together. And, it is my belief that CRNBC can help lead some of these changes in partnership with nurses, employers and the public who we protect. Because change is easier when we do it together.