Nursing research in the field of rural and remote practice is Dr. Martha MacLeod’s passion and calling. As a nurse, teacher, mentor and researcher, she strives to share her findings so that nurses can make positive changes not only in practice, but also throughout their careers.
Martha is Professor and Chair at the School of Nursing at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), as well as a Professor of Community Health Sciences. She has held prominent positions as a member of faculty and head of programs at a range of university and hospital settings since the late 1970s, making her one of the most established and experienced nurse researchers in British Columbia.
Throughout Martha’s career, her commitment to sharing knowledge has never wavered. “When my PhD was newly-minted, Martha told me that doing research doesn’t matter at all if you don’t tell anyone about it,” says Clinical Programs & Chief Nursing Officer Suzanne Johnston. “She continues to encourage and mentor young researchers, helping the nursing program faculty with publishing goals and securing funding for research programs, networks and projects.” She has helped foster researchers in Northern B.C. in many ways, such as when she developed programs like Rural and Remote Research with UNBC. She also co-founded the British Columbia Rural and Remote Health Research Network to bring practitioners together for partnerships and conferences.
Martha’s own research accomplishments are outstanding. She has over 75 peer-reviewed publications and has been awarded more than $5 million in research funding directly as a principal investigator and has been a co-investigator in projects receiving funding exceeding $10 million.
“Dr. MacLeod’s research has included studies of rural nursing, knowledge translation and healthcare delivery,” says UNBC School of Nursing Assistant Professor Dr. Davina Banner. She co-led a study of rural nursing in Canada, research that has been incorporated into national and provincial health human resource planning and featured widely in rural nursing education resources.
Martha was also the force behind implementation of the Rural Nursing Certificate (RNC) for practicing nursing and nursing students—a practice-driven, reality-based approach to curriculum implementation and change. Before this program, there was no consistent preparation for nurses working in these challenging settings. The RNC gives nurses the opportunity to study rural nursing and potentially help them further their educational credentials.
Outside of Martha’s formal responsibilities with UNBC, she helped create an Annual Northern Research Days conference that showcases health-related research in the region. The successful conference held its fourth event in November 2012. “She is the consummate professional academic, aware and nurturing of collaboration and partnerships,” says colleague Andrea Starck. “She is always keen to present her findings at conferences and Health Authority events and is an engaging speaker.”
Martha continues to take responsibility for helping all levels of nursing students achieve their full potential. “She offers them support ‘where they are at’,” says Northern Health Regional Manager of Decision Support Tools Candice Manahan. “She has to be one of the busiest individuals I’ve ever met, but she always has time for her team.” In all that Martha does, she continues to help those around her think big and do great things by working together.