Dr. Shirley Stinson is a visionary leader, teacher, administrator, researcher and consultant, whose contributions have changed the face of nursing in Canada.
Born in Arlee, Saskatchewan in 1929, Shirley Marie Stinson moved to Alberta with her parents as a young child in the mid-1930s. In 1953, her distinguished nursing career began when she graduated from the University of Alberta with a bachelor of science degree in nursing and numerous awards, including the university’s Gold Key Award.
In 1958, Shirley Stinson earned her master’s degree in nursing administration from the University of Minnesota, and received a doctor of education degree in 1969 from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, the first Alberta nurse to complete a doctoral program. She also holds two honourary degrees—a doctor of laws from the University of Calgary and a doctor of science from Memorial University in Newfoundland.
With the exception of four years as associate director of nursing services at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, Shirley Stinson chose to advance her professional career in Alberta. She spent her early career as a public health staff nurse, and has been on the University of Alberta faculty since 1969. She was joint professor of the faculties of nursing and the department of public health sciences, faculty of medicine, in which she now holds professor emerita status. From 1985 to 1991, she served as adjunct professor, University of Calgary faculty of nursing, before becoming an adjunct professor for life.
Her vision and belief that graduate nursing students require knowledge of advanced clinical nursing practice, theory, research, and history were the basis for Dr. Stinson’s work in the establishment of Western Canada’s first masters in nursing program in 1975 at the U of A. In concert with colleagues from U of A and U of C, she designed what became the first Canadian PhD in Nursing program, which was instituted in 1991.
Shirley Stinson, considered to be the architect of nursing research, played key roles in convincing the Government of Alberta to support nursing research, making Alberta the first province or state in the western world to earmark funds for nursing research. Through that support, the Alberta Foundation for Nursing Research was established in 1982, with Dr. Stinson as the founding chair. This affirmed the importance of nursing research in health care and further raised the credibility of nursing as a professional discipline.
Dr. Stinson’s goal to improve patient care through nursing research profoundly influenced nursing policy and extends beyond Canadian boundaries, where she is held in high esteem by her international colleagues. She has published more than 100 articles, chapters, books and reports. She has lectured and advised professional organizations and institutions worldwide; served on advisory and development committees for international nursing conferences; and been a consultant to organizations such as the Pan American World Health Organization, World Health Organization in Geneva, and Colombian Nurses Association in Bogota.
Shirley Stinson’s distinguished contributions to higher education in nursing and nursing research—provincially, nationally, and internationally—have earned her many awards. These include the Senior National Health Scientist Research Award, the first nurse and woman to receive that award; Canada’s highest two nursing awards: the Ross Award in Nursing Leadership from the Canadian Nurses Foundation, and the Canadian Nurses Association’s Jeanne Mance Award; and the Sir Frederick Haultain Prize in Humanities from the Government of Alberta. Dr. Stinson is honoured by several lifetime memberships and has received the University of Minnesota Board of Regents’ Outstanding Achievement Award as well as a Distinguished Alumni Award from Columbia University.
Though she officially retired since 1993, Dr. Stinson continued to share her ideas and experience to benefit the growth of knowledge in all its forms.
She is grateful to God for her family members, friends and other associates and believes anything she is given credit for accomplishing has entailed the collaboration and contributions of others.