Nursing’s Steve Ross leads with compassion – TRU Newsroom

Nursing’s Steve Ross leads with compassion – TRU Newsroom

July 5, 2024 at 10:31 am  Education, Kamloops, News

Bachelor of Science in Nursing program Chair Steve Ross and Provost and Vice-President Academic Gillian Balfour reflect on the importance of inspiring and empowering others.

For University College of the Cariboo alum Steve Ross, transparency is essential for effective leadership. Naturally compassionate and deeply committed to faculty and students, the chair of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program believes open and honest communication benefits everyone while helping build trust.

And for that approach, and many other reasons, Ross is being recognized with the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) 2024 Chair Leadership Award.

Journey to nursing

Ross says when he graduated high school, he didn’t know what he wanted to do. He had a few jobs that kept him busy and he even applied to the welding program at university.

But the universe had a different plan.

“The blessing in disguise was I ended up having an emergency appendectomy, and the nurse I had in recovery was amazing,” he says. “What really struck me at the time was how very personable, very caring, she was. She just made my experience that much better. She made an unfortunate set of circumstances much easier.”

After he recovered, Ross reached out to his friend’s sister, who at the time was head nurse at Vancouver General Hospital, to tell her how impressed he was with the care he’d received.

“She told me that I should really consider a career in nursing, based on my experience.”

And so, he did, obtaining his undergraduate degree in nursing in 2000. He furthered his studies, earning his Master of Nursing with a focus in Advanced Nursing Practice, from the University of Alberta, shortly afterward.

Ross returned to TRU (previously University College of the Cariboo) in 2009, working as a sessional instructor. He was granted tenure in 2016, taking on the chair position in May 2020.

“It wasn’t the easiest of times to go into the role, just as the pandemic hit,” he says. “It was particularly hard.”

Not one to avoid a challenge, he did his best to support his colleagues and students.

“I noticed that everybody was quite siloed — faculty and students — during the pandemic,” he says. “And I just felt like physical and mental health were lacking for people as a whole, so I partnered up with a third-year student and we started a Run Club for students and faculty. And we’re still doing it.

“We run twice a week, throughout the academic year. We also ran the BMO Vancouver Marathon two years in a row, doing the half marathon. This year, nine students and I participated.”

Commitment to others

Ross’ unwavering commitment to nursing, his colleagues and students is clear.

“What keeps me here is the people,” he says. “It’s the human interactions, getting to know people’s stories — where they come from and where they want to get to — that keeps me going.”

Not one to grab the spotlight, Ross believes successful leadership is about helping others put their talents to use.

“Listening to people and allowing their voices to be heard, and to be collaborative in any kind of initiative that needs to move forward, matters. I’m student-centred. Any decision that I’m involved in, I always try to link it back to how is this going to impact students positively or negatively.”

He is also recognized as an advocate for a humanistic approach to nursing, which focuses on the nurse-patient relationship, and highlights compassion and comfort, as well as the patient’s physical and mental health.

“It’s the humanistic and relational piece that really attracts me to the profession,” he says. “I strive to help patients and families get to a better place. It’s important and needed.”

Student success

Always looking ahead, Ross recognizes what TRU offers to prepare students for a career in health care. The opening of the state-of-the-art Chappell Family Building for Nursing and Population Health in 2020 provides a great foundation for students.

“The building has a variety of low, medium and high-fidelity simulation labs, which is fantastic,” he says. “A lot of great opportunities for students to learn. It’s very exciting.”

And as the School of Nursing continues to grow – with the Health Care Assistant, Practical Nurse and Master of Nursing — Nurse Practitioner programs — he remains optimistic about students choosing TRU.

“There’s a lot of excitement with all the educational opportunities available here. Our students are eager to make a difference.”

Sincere gratitude

Honoured and humbled to receive the Chair Leadership Award, Ross acknowledges those who advocated for him.  

“I want to thank my nursing and non-nursing colleagues for the nomination and letters of support,” he says.

“I enjoy working with my colleagues and the award would not have been possible without the support and good working relationships that I have developed during my time at TRU.”

As an award recipient, Ross plans to advance his leadership skills even more with up to $2,000 provided by the provost’s office to attend a workshop or conference.

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