No one better represents the highest qualities of nurse, teacher, administrator, researcher, consultant and academic than Joan Gilchrist. Her efforts in these areas were directed towards improving the care of people, restructuring the health care system and promoting the education, and social and economic welfare of nurses. She provided strong and distinguished leadership during her years as Director of Nursing at the Jewish General Hospital, and during her term as Dean both at McGill University School of Nursing and The University of Western Ontario Faculty of Nursing. During her final years at McGill, she was the Flora Madeleine Shaw Professor of Nursing, an honor named for the first director of the McGill University School of Nursing.
A committed researcher and a facilitator of research, she generated over two million dollars of research funding for creative projects for revising nursing education and practice. During her tenure at McGill University, Professor Gilchrist was instrumental in developing innovative demonstration programs. Two workshops were established in Beaconsfield and in Arundel, Quebec to serve as a health resource to people in the community. With major funding from the National Health Research Development Program, these projects helped illustrate to leading politicians and health care advisors just what nursing can do as an entry point into the health care system. In the area of nursing education, Canada's first Master of Science in Nursing degree for non nurses was established at McGill University by Professor Gilchrist.
Throughout her career, Professor Gilchrist was in great demand as a speaker and could be found at meetings where new directions for research, education and social and health policies were being formulated. Her publications were extensive and equally influential. Together with her colleague and "close friend", Dr. Moyra Allen, the first Canadian Journal of Nursing Research was established.
Professor Gilchrist has been sought as a consultant to schools of nursing, health care institutions, governments and professional associations across Canada. In Manitoba, she has provided expertise in promoting collaboration between diploma and baccalaureate nursing education programs. She was an external appraiser of the graduate program at The University of Manitoba School of Nursing in 1979. A believer in doctoral education for nursing in Canada, Professor Gilchrist worked diligently to promote this concept both to university administrators and politicians. It is fitting that the fourth doctoral program in nursing in Canada is being established at the University of Montreal this year.
Professor Gilchrist was President of the Canadian Nurses Association and the Canadian Association of University Schools of Nursing. She served on the boards of the Canadian Nurses Foundation and the Order of Nurses of Quebec. Her astuteness and political skills were recognized in her appointment as a member of the Dubin Committee of Inquiry for the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, in 1982, at the time of the investigation of the Susan Nelles case. She was recently a member of the Academic Advisory Committee, Ontario Council on University Affairs, Ministry of Colleges and Universities.
Recognition for her distinguished service has been given by the nursing profession and the community. In 1977, Professor Gilchrist received the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal, Government of Canada, for her meritorious service to nursing and health care. In the same year she was made an honorary citizen of Winnipeg, on the occasion of being the first presenter in the scholarly lecture series at The University of Manitoba, School of Nursing. In 1990, the Canadian Association of University Schools of Nursing honored her many significant contributions to nursing education by presenting her with the Ethel Johns Award. Most recently, the Joan Gilchrist Graduate Student Research Award was created by the Sigma Theta Tau Iota Omicron Chapter, an international nursing honor society.
Professor Gilchrist is above all an innovator and a leader. Her colleagues praise her administrative skills. She has been described as "an expert in putting the right people into the right places at the right times.., and then putting herself in the background to ensure that things go right!" She is revered by her students, many of whom have benefited from her mentoring in their own careers. All of those who know her have been impressed with her sense of humor, compassion, hospitality and human understanding. Professor Gilchrist continues to distinguish herself in matters of nursing, health and education. She has brought imagination, organizational skills and commitment to all her endeavours. Through these, she has been influential in shaping the development of the nursing profession and health care in Canada.
Mr. Chancellor, it is my privilege to ask, in the name of the Senate of the University of Manitoba, that you confer on Professor Joan Gilchrist the degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa.
-citation delivered by Arnold Naimark, President, University of Manitoba