The Uncomfortable Places with Mary Smith

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Mary Smith BScN MN RN has extensive experience in healthcare administration, leadership, research, education, policy, and clinical practice with hands on experience leading groups through complex change and empowering others in the achievement of a shared vision.

Previously, Mary was an assistant professor in the Department of Nursing at Brandon University. Prior to this she held a variety of positions such as Vice President Programs and Services, Southern Health-Santé Sud, Public Health Practice Leader, Women’s Health Program Leader and Client Services Manager for Healthy Living Programs, RHA – Central. Mary’s background also includes roles as Intervention Coordinator for the Manitoba Heart Health Program, Public Health Nurse in remote northern communities, and Surgical Intensive Care Nurse in a larger urban centre. She has a Masters of Nursing, Advanced Practice Leadership from the University of Victoria and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Western Ontario. She is the current Executive Director for the Association of Registered Nurses of Manitoba.


Episode Highlights

We start by talking about Mary’s early years being raised in an indigenous community where her mother worked as a nurse before discussing:

  • Those foundational first two years of nursing, her experience up north and how it provided her with opportunities not available in the city
  • The student nurse who inspired her journey
  • Her struggle with imposter syndrome
  • The differences between and responsibilities of the colleges, regulatory boards, professional associations and unions for nursing
  • Suggestions for nurses getting into policy or advocacy work
  • Hopes for the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife
  • The balance between the science and art of nursing

Key Points

1. Allow yourself to be a beginner. No one starts off being excellent.

2. Great leaders don’t set out to be leaders, they set out to make a difference.

3. It’s not about the role, it’s about the goal.



“Recognize that [imposter syndrome] is normal and that it’s okay. It’s okay to feel that way, but part of that is what stimulates and motivates you to learn more.”

—Mary Smith




“Go to those places where you are uncomfortable because that’s where the learning is going to happen.”

—Mary Smith




“[The Association of Registered Nurses] exists to provide that professional nursing voice, to advance the profession, and influence healthy public policy.”

—Mary Smith




“So many voices, so little voice.”

—Steven Lewis


Mentioned in this Episode

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