The UBC Health Awards Committee, chaired by Dr. Louise Nasmith, associate provost health, has selected Dr. Colleen Varcoe as the 2017 John McNeill Excellence in Health Research Mentorship Award recipient for her outstanding health research and deep commitment to mentoring graduate students.
Prior to her academic career, Dr. Varcoe spent over a decade in clinical practice as nurse educator within an array of clinical units. She joined the UBC School of Nursing as associate professor in 2005, and became professor in 2010. Dr. Varcoe is an internationally recognized scholar in the fields of Indigenous health, intimate partner violence, and healthcare inequities. She is one of only 36 fellows in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences from the nursing profession, and has authored more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals and books.
Complementing her own research program, Dr. Varcoe devotes considerable time and commitment to mentoring trainees and newer scholars in ways that foster and facilitate social justice in nursing and across healthcare systems. As a result, she attracts not only graduate students interested in developing knowledge related to social justice and healthcare equity, but also community partners, policymakers and other researchers to engage in unique interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary collaborations that advance the wellbeing of people experiencing multiple forms of stigma. Dr. Varcoe is especially well known and revered for how she supports newer scholars in the development of their own programs of research, many of whom have since gone on to launch significant programs of their own.
Since 2005, Dr. Varcoe has supervised or been a committee member to completion for 11 PhD students, 16 masters thesis students and 30 students completing major essays or culminating projects. Her longstanding commitment to and expertise in graduate education have guided many of her graduate students both within and beyond their studies. She facilitates reflection and synthesis as a means to helping students and peers develop approaches that reduce barriers to care for some of Canada’s most marginalized populations.
Supporting statements from Dr. Varcoe’s former and current graduate students and post-doctoral fellows attest to the extent of the impact that she has had on her mentees. She is consistently praised, not only as an outstanding research scholar whose passion for complex analysis incites curiosity and critical thinking on those she mentors, but also as a compassionate individual whose humility and exceptional leadership have inspired mentees at all stages of their academic and professional careers.
Throughout the course of her career, Dr. Varcoe has built a community of scholars, educators, care providers, and policy leaders that is testament to her scholarship and ability to foster excellence among those she works with. Her outstanding track record of support for graduate and post-doctoral trainees, active consultations with health authorities and international health organizations, including the World Health Organization, and educational leadership in innovative program development illustrate her incredible achievements.
This prestigious award, in honour of Dean Emeritus John McNeill who joined the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1971, recognizes faculty members at any stage in their academic career, in any of UBC’s health-related disciplines, who have formally been identified as mentors and who exemplify a deep commitment to fostering the professional and personal development of faculty colleagues, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows, in the early stages of their academic career. The award was established by Dr. Subodh Verma MSc(Pharm)’93, PhD(Pharm)’97 and family in his honour and is supported by Dr. McNeill’s graduate students.
Update: To view the presentation of the 2017 Award winner, Dr. Colleen Varcoe, please click here. In April 2018, she delivered her special lecture titled "Why Mentorship is Good for your Health and ideas for how to get there."