July 18, 2023

Student in first cohort of DN program gives it an A+

Annjanette Ridsdale-Weddell is an Indigenous RN; she shares her experiences in UCalgary Nursing's Doctor of Nursing program
Annjanette Ridsdale-Weddell
Annjanette Ridsdale-Weddell on the family farm in Saskatchewan with Disco, Dart and Dancer. Photo courtesy of Annj Ridsdale-Weddell; taken by Pat Ridsdale

Annjanette Ridsdale-Weddell has enjoyed a 35-year career (so far) as an Indigenous RN, fortunate to have numerous rich experiences within all four pillars of nursing: clinical, education, research and administration. Having worked in senior nursing leadership for over two decades, her desire to gain formal business knowledge led her to complete an MBA from the Australian Institute of Business.  

“I am passionate about the well-being of our health-care workforce and honoured to chair of one of Health Canada's health workforce working groups,” says Ridsdale-Weddell, now on her second “tour of duty” in provincial public service as Director, Health Workforce Strategy, Planning & Analytics for Alberta Health.   

She is also passionate about lifelong learning. Looking to further support professional development and career growth, Ridsdale-Weddell applied for and was accepted into UCalgary Nursing’s DN program.

“This graduate level leadership education will also expand my own research into healthy work environments, healthy teams and health-care improvement.  

“The knowledge we are gaining through the DN is applicable to all areas of health care,” she continues, acknowledging that there have been significant learnings so far due to the similarity of experiences across the cohort enrolled in the program. 

“We are nursing and non-nursing senior health-care leaders from coast to coast, including the territories, grappling with very similar organizational challenges, and we all share a strong drive to make a difference in health care. Every lecture there is valuable information, insights and perspectives shared among all of us. There is always a nugget of information that you can consider for application in your own work.”  

Ridsdale-Weddell says that while the program is fast-paced with numerous academic assignments and it takes a few months to find your cadence, the team of advisors and faculty is very supportive and encouraging.

“They share their own lived experiences completing graduate school, provide helpful tips to us along the way and do a great job of keeping us all grounded and sane! This level of support is much higher than I have previously experienced in a post-secondary program.”  

If someone is conflicted about which degree – the DN or the PhD - makes most sense, Ridsdale-Weddell has some advice.

“If you are a senior leader with challenging problems to address in your health-care environment, then the knowledge you will gain throughout the coursework in this degree is priceless!  For me, the deciding factor in applying to the DN program versus a PhD program was the focus on obtaining advanced knowledge specific to health-care leadership.”  

UCalgary Nursing's Doctor of Nursing program is aimed at developing nurse leaders and innovators with significant leadership experience (minimum of three years) for senior roles in health care and related organizations. Students will be provided with knowledge and skills to advance health systems by designing and implementing innovations and evaluating outcomes.

The Doctor of Nursing is a graduate degree program requiring a work-integrated research project. The online structure of the program will allow students to complete the program with flexibility while continuing to work. The program may be completed in as little as three years.

Winter 2024 applications are due by Sept. 1, 2023. Please contact The Nursing Programs Office prior to applying to meet with a Program Specialist.