Mar 01, 2015
By Leah Geller

Motivated millennial

Passion and purpose drive 20-something Braden Davie and his career focus on nurse engagement and professional practice

Teckles Photography Inc“I’ve received so much at the IWK in terms of support and mentoring, and I would like to give a lot back.”

In Vanguard, the small Saskatchewan farming community where Braden Davie grew up, nurses were seen as the leaders. “People really sought out their advice,” he says, “whether that meant seeing the nurse practitioner at our local health centre or embracing what nurses had to say in a town meeting.”

Nursing was an easy choice for Davie, who naturally gravitated to leadership roles, even as a teenager. “I’ve always liked a challenge, especially around formal leadership,” he explains. “And I’m a really passionate person — if I’m involved, I’m all in!”

At 15, Davie was elected president of his local 4-H club, which had members as old as 18. Resolving internal conflicts was one of the responsibilities. “I remember a problem between the members of the Beef and Light Horse groups,” he chuckles. “I had to work with both sides to resolve it and keep the club together.”

For a decade, he was a competitive figure skater with the Saskatchewan provincial team, an experience he says helped him learn how to set goals, to work hard and to refocus when things don’t work out the way he wants them to.

Thanks to the reputation he built leading the 4-H club, Davie was asked to serve as the athlete representative on the Skate Canada Saskatchewan board. Then, while completing his nursing degree at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, he was elected president of the nursing students society on campus.

“I went into nursing at 18 and fell in love with it. I wholeheartedly believe in what we do and in nursing’s holistic model of care, and I want to be part of the evolution of nursing that will allow us to better meet the health-care needs of Canadians. I think that passion comes from my grandpa. He was a larger-than-life man, who built our farm from the ground up. He taught me to be community minded and take pride in my work.”

Today, Davie, 26, lives in Halifax and is the coordinator of nursing professional practice at the IWK Health Centre, the tertiary pediatric care centre for Atlantic Canada. The centre employs more than 3,200 staff, including 1,000 RNs, nurse practitioners and licensed practical nurses.

In this position, he supports clinical policy development, helps resolve professional practice issues and works with the chief of nursing on optimizing scopes of practice. He also chairs IWK’s Nursing Professional Practice Council and maintains a clinical practice in the neonatal intensive care unit. “I love working with the tenacious and brave families at such a critical time in their lives and being part of an incredibly supportive care team.”

He plans to eventually pursue graduate studies in health leadership and administration, while continuing his work in professional practice. “I’ve received so much at the IWK in terms of support and mentoring, and I would like to give a lot back.”

Davie was looking for adventure when he decided to relocate to Halifax in 2012. The city’s energy and proximity to the ocean are added bonuses, he says, and he has built time into his schedule for running and for skating on the Commons oval. He’s volunteering in the sport again as a technical specialist with Skate Canada Nova Scotia. People had told him Nova Scotia was a great place for nurses. “They were right,” he affirms. “The College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia is really progressive, and they’re doing a lot of timely work around engaging nurses.”

Davie would know. He recently acted as project lead on the New Nurse Graduate Transition Pilot Project, which took research by Dalhousie University assistant professor Sheri Price on engaging and retaining millennial nurses and brought it to life through video and social media.

“Her research highlights what we’re doing right in terms of support systems for new grads, what draws millennials to nursing, and what new nurses want from their careers,” Davie explains. “It’s important to engage this group right away — in both formal and informal leadership activities. They need to have a voice in clinical practice, in policy development and at the boardroom table.”

“What’s helped me so far in my own career is letting people know that I want to be involved,” he adds. “Stick your neck out a bit, speak up and let people know what really interests you. Don’t wait to be invited. Being under the radar is no place to be.”

10 questions with Braden Davie

If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
My love for any food that is sweet or salty

What is one thing about you that people would be surprised to learn?
I can drive a combine

“If I had more free time, I would...”
Head for P.E.I.

Where did you go on your last vacation?
To Vancouver, to see Katy Perry!

Name one place in the world you’d most like to visit.

What is your biggest regret?
Not travelling more

What was the last good book you read?
Here’s What We’ll Say by Reichen Lehmkuhl

Who inspired you to become a nurse?
My friend’s mom, Deb Hapke, who was an RN

What do you like least about being a nurse?
Being called a male nurse. I patiently explain that I’m a registered nurse

Name one change you would like to make to the health system.
I’d involve direct care nurses in all levels of decision-making

Leah Geller is a freelance health and science writer in Ottawa.
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