Award Recipient

Katie Webber

Merck Canada Doctoral Nursing Award

While I certainly chose the nursing profession, as the sibling of a childhood cancer survivor, I believe that the nursing profession also chose me. After graduating with a BScN in 2011, I started my career as a pediatric oncology nurse. I quickly learned that, while the work of a pediatric oncology nurse is quite technical, for example, needing to administer complex chemotherapy regimens or perform bone marrow transplants, a nurse’s ability to connect relationally to patients and their families is just as significant as their mastery of technical skills. Due to nurses’ accessibility to families experiencing cancer, the inherently emotional nature of cancer, and the months, if not years, that nurses and parents spend with one another, it is not uncommon for nurses and parents to develop meaningful relationships. However, it can also become difficult to navigate professional boundaries in these relationships, particularly in an age where social media is an accessible and accepted form of communication.

In January 2018, I began my master’s coursework at the University of Calgary and fast-tracked into the doctoral program in September 2019. For my doctoral research, I am seeking to understand the relational complexity in nurse-parent relationships within pediatric oncology contexts and how social media might influence these relationships. Findings from this research will advance nursing knowledge about how nurses and parents navigate online and offline professional boundaries within pediatric oncology contexts. I am grateful to the Canadian Nurses Foundation for their confidence in this research to advance nursing knowledge.

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