When opportunity knocks … answer

Fri, Apr 1 2016


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Pioneer. Nurturer. Legacy builder.

Walk into MacEwan’s simulation centre and you’ll see patients that blink, breathe, talk, bleed, sweat, cry and even give birth—but not a single one of them is “real.”

Colette Foisy-Doll has built a career on making nursing education experiences in the lab about as realistic as they can get, but she hadn’t even heard of simulation until 1998 when she was on a clinical rotation with her students at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and stumbled upon a new simulation centre.

“I loved what was happening in that room from the very first moment,” she says. “The technology was really expensive, so it was mostly physicians using it, and I thought that was a real travesty.”

So she set out to create a nursing simulation centre at MacEwan. That first lab was essentially a mannequin housed in a spare meeting room. Thirteen years later, the university’s nursing simulation centre covers nearly 30,000 square feet and includes more than 16 patient simulators, trained actors and virtual patients so realistic that working with them often triggers very emotional responses.

“ I’ve come to realize that making something from nothing is just part of who I am.” 

“Students say, ‘I can’t believe I’m crying over a mannequin,’” says Colette. “It feels very real—and it should. Simulation is all about transformational learning for students, empowering them to identify their strengths and building them up to be safe, effective and ethical patient care professionals.”

The unique simulation skill set Colette developed has taken her to Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, all over North America and most recently, Saudi Arabia, where she’s helping to build programs at the largest simulation centre in the world.

“I’ve come to realize that making something from nothing is just part of who I am. It’s why this work is so perfect for me.”

Colette says her life’s work isn’t only about transforming, it’s about being transformed.

“I’ve changed and been changed by reaching beyond traditional teaching approaches. Every day I think about how lucky I am and I don’t quite know how it all happened other than when opportunity knocks, I always answer.

Answering that call may have taken Colette to some amazing places, but she always finds her way back home.

“I’m part of an amazing faculty of innovators who empower students to be the best they can be, and who are working to change the culture of healthcare. It’s the reason I’ve stayed here for more than 20 years. Whenever I give something—at MacEwan or around the world—what I get in return is exponential.”


Colette Foisy-Doll is a faculty member in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Learn more at MacEwan.ca/Nursing.



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