July 16, 2019

Overseeing maternal and newborn health surveillance data in BC, nurse also consults with World Health Organization

50 Faces of Nursing: Amy Hobbs, BA'08, BN'10, MSc'15

Since graduation from UCalgary Nursing in 2010, Amy Hobbs has held a variety of nursing positions in rural and urban environments and in local, national and international settings. She also holds a Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Calgary.

From 2016-2018, she was a research associate at the Institute for International Programs, Global Disease Epidemiology and Control at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she worked closely with Global Affairs Canada and partner non-governmental organizations, such as CARE, Plan, Aga Khan, Amref Health Africa and World Vision to plan and develop monitoring and evaluation frameworks for maternal and neonatal programs in low-to-middle-income countries.

At Alberta Health Services (AHS) from 2008 to 2015, she was a research assistant at the Alberta Cancer Board (to 2011) and a public health nurse for AHS South Calgary Health Centre and Rural South covering Okotoks, High River and Black Diamond (2010-2015).

From 2011 to 2013, Hobbs was a clinical research nurse coordinator for AHS – Cancer Care where she co-coordinated the Alberta Cancer Research Tumour Bank and Biorespository, including other research studies and clinical trials for breast and head and neck cancers. In this role, she gained familiarity with using clinical and administrative data for research, which led to her master’s thesis in clinical epidemiology at UCalgary, investigating treatment outcomes for a provincial cohort of oropharyngeal cancer patients in Alberta. In this role, she won an Alberta Innovates Health Solutions clinician fellowship allowing her to continue employment, as a clinical fellow (2013-2015), during her master’s degree.

Currently, she’s the provincial director of surveillance, research, and analytics at Perinatal Services BC, where she leads maternal and newborn health surveillance activities and uses data to inform and evaluate programs within the province. She is also a consultant at the World Health Organization (WHO) and has worked in the department of reproductive health research with WHO in Geneva, Switzerland from in 2015/16 managing large global databases across several key maternal and newborn health indicators. 

“I’ve ​had an exciting career with​in​ local, national and international organizations in the area of planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of maternal and newborn health​ ​programs in Canada, Uganda, Switzerland, Tanzania and South Sudan,” says Hobbs. “I don't think this would have been possible without having this initial exposure to applied clinical research​ early on​ in my nursing degree.”

Dr. Cynthia Mannion (RN, PhD), associate professor, UCalgary Nursing, who nominated Hobbs, says “she is one of the most accomplished students I have ever taught.”

Hobbs continues to be an independent consultant. Most recently she has worked for the Canadian Red Cross and South Sudan Red Cross as part of a team evaluating a project aimed at improving maternal, newborn and child survival in Gogrial State, South Sudan.

“I am driven to use data to design, implement and evaluate evidence-based interventions that aim to improve health service delivery and quality of care,” she says. “It’s rewarding to be able to see real-time improvements in health outcomes and to work within the health system to use data to influence policy and decision-making.”

What’s a memorable experience you had at UCalgary Nursing?

​“During my nursing education, I knew that I wanted to supplement my academic studies with ‘hands-on’ research in the area of maternal and child health and nutrition. I had approached Dr. Mannion and she saw my potential and enthusiasm for research and supported my successful application for the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) Health Professional Studentship.

This award allowed me to pursue maternal health research from study design, data collection and analyses through to the dissemination of results, culminating in two oral presentations and a published peer-reviewed manuscript. Being involved in the initial phases of a research study allowed me to explore my passion for research and sparked my interest in finding a research-based career and to further pursue ​​graduate training in clinical epidemiology in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary.”

What most excites you about the future of nursing or changes coming in the profession?

“The World Health Organization has declared 2020 the ‘Year of the Nurse.’ This has generated global attention to raise the profile and status of nurses, as championed by the International Council of Nurses and the Nursing Now campaign. This is a really exciting time to be a nurse given the global advocacy and investment in nurses and ability to bring more equal representation of nurses in leadership positions. Nurses are found in all levels of the health system and with a stronger voice, can drive system-level changes to optimize the health and well-being of populations worldwide.”

Is there a nursing issue you are especially passionate about or you would like to change?

“Nurses represent a large proportion of the overall global health workforce but yet are under-represented in health-related leadership positions. I would like to see more nurses in higher level leadership positions, particularly within national and international health governing agencies, to more accurately represent the interdisciplinary nature of health systems.”

What advice do you have for aspiring nurses?

“Nursing is an excellent career that will open up so many doors in health care; from being a frontline health professional to health systems planning and health-care leadership positions. I have had the privilege to work in academia, government and international organizations with my nursing background. The opportunities are endless for nurses and prepare you for a health-care career with the capability to make a difference.”

Is there one luxury in life you would rather not live without?

“The internet! I can’t imagine living without so much knowledge and information available all the time and the ability to connect with the friends and colleagues I have met across the word.”

All through 2019, we'll be highlighting 50 Faces of Nursing and profiling outstanding nursing members in celebration of our 50th anniversary. If you know someone noteworthy (faculty, staff, alum, students, partners, etc.) who you would like us to feature, tell us more with this short online form. For more, visit nursing.ucalgary.ca/50