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Edmund Walsh

Q&A with a former student member of Memorial’s Board of Regents

Campus and Community |

By Lisa Pendergast

Edmund Walsh, BN’14, is not someone who lets an opportunity pass him by.

Growing up in Corner Brook, Mr. Walsh had no intention of pursuing a nursing degree, yet when the career path presented itself, he ended up completing a bachelor of nursing through the Western Regional School of Nursing.

He then went on to complete a master of science in nursing at Western University, where he is currently a first-year doctor of philosophy in nursing student.

While completing his degree at Memorial, Mr. Walsh received an opportunity that even further changed the trajectory of his career and had a strong influence on the person he is today.

LP: Why did you first decide to study nursing at Grenfell Campus?

EW: Living in Corner Brook and being aware of the great reputation of the campus and, in particular, the Western Regional School of Nursing, made it an easy choice. Great reputation, great sense of community, great faculty and small class sizes.

My career in nursing – it wasn’t something I ever thought I would study. I thought I would become a lawyer or a physician. Nursing never really crossed my mind. But, funnily enough, in high school, I sang in a choir and after rehearsal some of us would hang out at a friend’s house.

It turned out that her mother was a nurse educator at the School of Nursing, who just happened to be chair of the recruitment committee. So, through these visits at her home, I was recruited! Although I didn’t have a full understanding of nursing at the time, I knew it was a great career path for me because I wanted to influence people’s lives in a positive way.

LP: What did you enjoy most about being a student at Memorial? Is there a particular experience that stands out?

EW: The most meaningful experience of my time as an undergraduate student was serving on the Board of Regents. That’s been incredibly influential on my life and my career.

Edmund Walsh with members of the Board of Regents on his graduation day.
Photo: Lori Lee Pike

Another highlight of my time at Memorial was, of course, building relationships with wonderful friends, faculty and staff. I met so many lovely people at the School of Nursing, at Grenfell and at the St. John’s campus.

There were so many kind and sincere people who were compassionate and working on important causes. There were, and still are, lots of inspiring people at Memorial working toward making the world a better place.

LP: How did you become a member of the Board of Regents? Why was this experience so influential for you?

EW: I was the nursing councillor on the Grenfell Campus Student Union at the time. Through that community, I learned that the board needed a new student from Grenfell Campus. I put my name forward, was interviewed and was selected

That was an incredibly influential time in my life. What was so special about that appointment was the experience of being around some of our province’s most talented and visionary leaders. There were leaders there from the legal profession, from academia, from business and from health care.

“Serving on the Board of Regents was a truly fundamental experience that helped form the basis of my career.”

Being around them was a tremendous opportunity. I was able to witness how to be an effective leader and create tangible change. I went into the boardroom as an undergraduate student with no prior governance experience, and they really cared about my opinion. It gave me confidence; I have an opinion that matters, and I can share it.

Iris Petten, the chair of the board, in particular, was such a role model for me of how to be a leader. She was genuine, thoughtful and passionate. She had a special energy that drew people together to deliver positive change for Memorial and, in turn, the province.

When I started graduate school, my interest in leadership and my interest in health care merged together to form the basis of my program of research. Today, I study nurse managers’ leadership behaviours and how those behaviours influence outcomes such as staff empowerment, workplace bullying, job satisfaction and job turnover intentions. Serving on the Board of Regents was a truly fundamental experience that helped form the basis of my career.

LP: Once you graduate from the doctor of philosophy in nursing program, what is next for you?

EW: Going forward, I would love to have a career in academia. When I graduate, I will apply for a tenure-track nursing faculty position. I would love to continue my research related to the influence of leadership behaviours on nurse and organizational outcomes. I want to study leadership development in nursing. I’m also excited to teach! I’m really looking forward to having the opportunity to help shape the nursing profession through my work with undergraduate and graduate students.

“I would like to . . . move into senior university governance someday — the role of president and vice-chancellor, maybe.”

In terms of my research goals, Canada’s population is aging, so we need to be innovative to keep up with the increasing demand for long-term care beds and staff. That’s going to be incredibly challenging. I’m hoping that my work will help decrease negative workplace experiences and promote nursing workforce sustainability. I just want nurses to be happy at work, that’s a primary goal.

Beyond the short-term, I would love to transition into a role in university administration. If the opportunity came up to be a director or dean of nursing, I would love to put my theoretical knowledge of leadership to the test. I would like to have a progressive leadership career over the next 30 or 40 years and move into senior university governance someday — the role of president and vice-chancellor, maybe. That’s a prospect that would really excite me.

LP: What advice would you give to a current Memorial student?

EW: It would have to be the Memorial motto, Provehito in Altum, launch forth into the deep. Take every opportunity that comes your way because you never know where it will lead.

Always strive toward achieving your leadership potential. Be authentic and be willing to admit mistakes. Always do your best to understand how you influence the lives the others. Work hard but always ensure that you take time to relax, exercise and spend time with friends and family.

Your career is, of course, very important, but don’t get completely lost in it. Make time for the people and other activities that matter to you, even when there doesn’t seem to be enough time.

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