Every Nurse a Leader with Carolyn Hoffman

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Carolyn Hoffman is a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Masters in Nursing who has senior leadership experience in hospital operations, provincial government, nursing regulation and quality improvement in healthcare; all with a focus on patient safety. She was most recently the Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association and was previously the SVP, Quality & Healthcare Improvement for Alberta Health Services, the largest health region in the country. 

In 2004, Carolyn was one of the first employees of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute where she was Director of Operations (Ontario to British Columbia). Her key responsibilities included internal lead for the development and launch of the Safer Healthcare Now! National Campaign. Carolyn is a co-author of the Tool for the Concise Analysis of Patient Safety Incidents (2016), Canadian Incident Analysis Framework (2012); the lead author of the 2008 consultation paper on the Development of a Canadian Adverse Event Reporting and Learning System; and co-author of the Canadian Root Cause Analysis Framework (2006) as well as the Canadian Patient Safety Dictionary (2003). Her current role is President and Chief Executive Office for the Institute for the Safe Medication Practices Canada (ISMP).


Episode Highlights

We start by talking about the beginning of her nursing career and that ‘first tap on the shoulder’ that led her to education before exploring:

  • Her expanding awareness of systems for patient safety that became a passion and driving force for the rest of her career
  • The educator role and how to approach finding roles for yourself in that sphere
  • What’s required and the day-to-day in working in patient safety
  • The importance of having a support network
  • The right attitude for change in the nurses’ career and the nursing profession

Key Points

1. Ask questions

2. It is essential that you know and believe in yourself and take forward your experience, education and intention forward with confidence

3. Be as authentic and engaged in the patient-client relationship as you can



“I had the attitude that I was an informal teacher with my colleagues. I demonstrated the behaviour that I wanted to support my colleagues and if they had any questions informally, side by side with them delivering patient care, they knew that they could count on me for that.”

—Carolyn Hoffman




“Leadership is a value that you have, a behaviour you need to demonstrate.”

—Carolyn Hoffman




“Asking questions may be the single most important thing you do every day.”

—Carolyn Hoffman




“You’re never going to know unless you try. The best antidote for fear is action.”

—Amy Deagle


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