Lorna Butler, the University of New Brunswick Faculty of Nursing dean, won the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing 2021 Academic Administration Excellence Award. She initially refused when her faculty members suggested nominating her for the award.
“The reason that I said no initially was … I see my role as promoting others and making sure that the faculty and staff that I work with are recognized for what they do,” said Butler.
Butler’s career was recognized and awarded because of her accomplishments as a nurse and professor.
“There’s nothing in my career that I haven’t enjoyed … the nice thing about nursing is you have options to think and be who you want to be,” said Butler. “Whether it’s a community nurse, public health [or] in the hospitals, there are many different things that we can do.”
When Butler first graduated with her nursing degree from Mount Saint Vincent University in Nova Scotia, she got hired on a general medical unit where she came in contact with cancer patients.
Butler was inspired by their determination and decided to pursue a specialization in oncology and hematology.
Oncology is the study of cancer and hematology is the study of human blood.
She went to a small investigations unit to learn how to be a head nurse, which led her to a position in a hematology unit, where she cared for patients with leukemia and lymphoma.
“The patients that intrigued me were individuals with cancer because of the strength of character they had to survive, which I thought is quite different than some of the other chronic diseases where people were learning to live with their circumstances,” said Butler.
After receiving her master’s degree in nursing from Dalhousie University, she left Nova Scotia to pursue her doctorate degree. Butler attended the University of Toronto’s Institute of Medical Science to research cancer care in-depth.
In 2007, Butler became the dean of the College of Nursing at the University of Saskatchewan, where she was also a senior strategist and professor.
Butler spent 14 years at USask before becoming the dean of the Faculty of Nursing at UNB in 2018.
Throughout her career, Butler emphasized the importance of making health care accessible to Indigenous communities. She said the nursing faculty just finished creating its academic plan.
Butler said in her workforce, the number of Indigenous students doesn’t represent the population of the province, in terms of health care.
“If we want to have nurses who are able to provide care within their own communities and for people of their own culture … we need to increase the number of Indigenous nurses, as well as Indigenous populations’ access [to] health care in numerous places across the province,” she said.
Butler said the faculty is looking at equity in the workforce and how the program can meet the needs of the population they serve.
Butler is passionate about preparing the future generation of nurses because the pandemic left an uncertain future for medical professionals.
She is grateful for the award and her fellow faculty members, nurses and medical professionals for helping her to get where she is.
“Being administrator isn’t something that happens on your own,” said Butler. “I think I have been fortunate to have people who have been willing to take a chance with me.”