Recently we asked Mary Ferguson-Paré, recipient of the first ever Ontario Hospital Association Nursing Leadership award in November 2003, about her experiences with mentors and mentoring.

"I have been fortunate to have many great role models and mentors. I am from a family of nurses. During the 1950s, my mother counseled me to pursue a baccalaureate nursing education. She has always been ahead of her time. My aunt, matron of a hospital in Hamilton, taught me that nursing is the noblest profession. In my first director of nursing role, Isabel Milton encouraged me to speak my voice. When I asked what I would say, she replied, "You know what to say." The Chair of my doctoral dissertation committee, Dr. Richard Applebaum, encouraged me to follow a vision that would influence the healthcare system. My recent appointment to the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health provided that opportunity. I have learned to be present with nurses, listen to their voice and take action on what is important to them. I have devoted my career to rekindling the flame inside of nurses by creating a positive practice environment and promoting the development of leaders that support the autonomous professional practice of nurses. "

Dr. Ferguson-Paré is Vice-President, Professional Affairs and Chief Nurse Executive at University Health Network, which comprises Toronto General, Toronto Western and Princess Margaret Hospitals. She is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Nursing and cross-appointed to the University of British Columbia, School of Nursing and the University of Victoria, School of Nursing. Her previous experience includes progressive senior nursing management and executive positions in both the acute care and long-term care sectors; nursing education; and institutional and community nursing experience in Psychiatry, Addictions Therapy, Victorian Order of Nurses, Family Practice and Student Health.

Dr. Mary Ferguson-Paré graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, completed the CHA/CCHSE Health Services Management Program; became a Certified Health Executive with the Canadian College of Health Service Executives; graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Masters in Public Health; received an MA in Organization Development; and a Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Systems from the Fielding Institute, Santa Barbara, California; completed the Strategic Human Resource Management Program at Harvard and is a Fellow of The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Ferguson-Paré has focused her professional and academic activities on organization and management development within healthcare and the development of leaders who promote autonomous professional practice and a client- centred approach to service. She is past President of the Academy of Canadian Executive Nurses, Ontario Nurse Executives and the Association of Nurse Executives of Metropolitan Toronto; Member at Large, Nursing Administration and a Director on the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario Board; a member of the Canadian College of Health Service Executives, the Nursing Leadership Network of Ontario, the Association of Nurse Executives of Greater Toronto Area, the Registered Nurses Association of British Columbia, the International Consortium of Parse Scholars and Sigma Theta Tau International. During the SARS outbreak Mary served as a member of the Clinical Advisory Team for the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Later she was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health.

Recently, Dr. Mary Ferguson-Paré was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Toronto Faculty of Nursing and the Award of Excellence in Nursing Leadership, Ontario Hospital Association.