University of Calgary

Lifetime Achievement Award

March 16, 2009

Nursing prof wins prestigious lifetime award

A Faculty of Nursing associate professor has won the prestigious College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA) Lifetime Achievement Award for 2009.  

Sandi Hirst has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the Faculty of Nursing for more than 25 years, influencing the professional development of hundreds of nursing students. She has been the supervisor or participated in thesis committees for more than 35 students, many of whom now hold important clinical, administrative or faculty positions in Calgary and beyond.  

“This recognition is so well deserved,” said Dianne Tapp, the faculty’s interim dean. “With this achievement, Sandi brings credibility and prestige not only to our faculty, but also to the profession.”

Hirst’s expertise and passion is in the area of gerontological nursing. She was a founding member of the Canadian Gerontological Nursing Association and also of the Alberta Gerontological Nurses Association, holding key positions in both organizations. As one of the first Canadian nurses to become certified in gerontological nursing in 1999, she has offered her expertise and encouragement to dozens of Calgary nurses, enabling them to achieve their certification.

Recognizing clearly that care of older adults requires an interdisciplinary approach, Hirst has reached out beyond the nursing realm. She has been a leader with the Canadian Association on Gerontology, a national multidisciplinary scientific and educational association, and with  the National Initiative on the Care of the Elderly, a new interdisciplinary venture that brings together academic and community-based professionals whose focus is to share research about evidence based practice. As an appointee to the government’s Seniors Advisory Council of Alberta for three two-year terms (to 2005), Hirst contributed to the development of the province’s Protection of Persons in Care Act. In 2007, her expertise was acknowledged by a three-year prime ministerial appointment to the newly founded National Seniors Council. And in October, a $1.1 million donation to the faculty created the Brenda Strafford Centre for Excellence in Gerontological Nursing, with Hirst as its director.

“This award recognizes the growing importance of care of older adults in our society,” says Debbie Lee, clinical specialist for the Older Adult with Alberta Health Services – Calgary, who nominated Hirst for the award. “It acknowledges the significant contribution that Sandi has made to older adult care over the years with learners from a variety of settings, with many different organizations and with ongoing passion and dedication”.

The CARNA Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Hirst during a ceremony in Edmonton in April.