TWU Senior Health Advisor Dr. Sonya Grypma speaks on nursing leadership and directing campus COVID-19 safety
“Collectively, Canadian nursing educators have a mandate to oversee the safety of thousands of students and hundreds of faculty and staff during the time of COVID-19. It is an awesome responsibility."
-- Sonya Grypma, TWU Senior Health Advisor and Vice Provost of Leadership & Graduate Studies.
In the early days of COVID-19, nurses in higher education across Canada quickly realized that they could not afford to wait for others to figure out a pandemic response for them.
Instead, they joined forces, drawing on principles and emerging evidence, sharing ideas and resources to help guide their respective nursing programs toward decisions that were both safe and sound.
“Ever since COVID-19 hit our radar at Trinity Western University (TWU) in January 2020, nurses have been at the centre of our university’s response,” says Sonya Grypma, RN, PhD. “We were the ones getting in front of staff and students for education and updates, puzzling through risk assessments and responses to individual concerns behind the scenes, serving key roles on response teams, and opening task forces.”
Soon after the World Health Organization confirmed the pandemic in March, Grypma took on a new role as senior health advisor, overseeing the university’s COVID-19 response and providing a link between the TWU executive leadership team (of which she is a member) and the university’s front-line response.
Nurses at the Forefront
Grypma remarks, “It is serendipitous that a number of Canadian universities have nurses in upper administrative roles right now — and you can bet that they are at the forefront of their institutional pandemic responses.”
“Nurses showed up, late at night, on weekends, responding to urgent calls, finding solutions together,” she recalls. Nurses are used to working in teams, Grypma explains, and nurse leaders from across TWU — from the campus wellness centre clinic, School of Nursing, and alumni circles — jumped on board with tenacity and formed the core of the TWU COVID-19 response team, COVID-19 health and safety task force, and COVID-19 public health team.
Leadership, Nursing, and College Campuses
“Collectively, Canadian nursing educators have a mandate to oversee the safety of thousands of students and hundreds of faculty and staff during the time of COVID-19. It is an awesome responsibility,” says Grypma.
“Fortunately, the ability to respond is something Canadian nurses understand,” she says. “It’s been well honed for centuries now.”
‘It is serendipitous that a number of Canadian universities have nurses in upper administrative roles right now — and you can bet that they are at the forefront of their institutional pandemic responses.’
Grypma recalls how Joy Johnson, incoming president of Simon Fraser University, astutely noted that being a nurse has helped shape her into a compassionate problem-solver.
“That makes sense to me,” says Grypma. “A global pandemic needs compassionate problem-solvers — and nurses have long proven themselves to be just that.”
Nurses are acculturated to care deeply for the well-being of those under their watch. She remarks, “I have been impressed by the swiftness with which nursing educational leaders have stepped up in their organizations to find solutions to the evolving and complex problems caused by COVID-19.”
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About Trinity Western University
Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier Christian liberal arts university dedicated to equipping students to establish meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. It is a fully accredited research institution offering liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has five campuses and locations: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, Ottawa, and Bellingham, WA. TWU emphasizes academic excellence, research, and student engagement in a vital faith community committed to forming leaders to have a transformational impact on culture. Learn more at www.twu.ca or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.
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