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Recognizing excellence in nursing: Elaine Veldman


Three people pose for a photo, two men in suits and a woman wearing glasses.
Elaine Veldman, recipient of the NNPBC Excellence in Nursing Education award, along with BC Minister of Health Adrian Dix (left) and Premier David Eby.

In December 2023, the Association of Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC (NNPBC) honoured a number of nurses for their demonstration of excellence in the areas of practice, research, advocacy, administration, education, planetary health, leadership, and lifetime achievement. Among those was one of Northern Health’s (NH) very own, Elaine Veldman, who received the Award for Excellence in Nursing Education.

Elaine is a regional nurse with NH and a member of Nurses Specialized in Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Canada (NSWOC).

One of only six such nurses in the North, Elaine supports frontline nurses in all Northwest facilities by teaching them how to care for patients with these complex issues, travelling across the region to deliver education, and providing virtual consults. In addition, she directly supports patients with wound, ostomy, and continence challenges, providing consultation and advising on their care. She was the first to hold this specialized position in the Northwest and has been in the role for 13 years now.

Making a difference in patients’ lives

When asked what she liked about her job, Elaine had nothing but positive things to say.

“More than anything, I often say that I have the best job in the world. I work with such an amazing team of specialty nurses that do the same work, and we’re a tight bunch,” she said. “There will never be an end to the work.”

Since she started in this role, the team has expanded, and that has had a positive impact.

“To be able to collaborate, and to connect with nurses all over the region, make them feel that they can do their jobs right, help their patients heal well while they’re recovering from surgery or a life-changing ostomy – it’s hard to put into words. It’s such rewarding work,” she said.

Elaine began her nursing career with NH over 30 years ago, graduating from nursing school in 1992 and starting work at Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace in acute care. She spent seven years in that role, another 10 in community nursing, and in 2007 completed her specialty in wound, ostomy, and continence (Enterostomal Therapy).

Small but mighty team

Two women stand smiling, while one presents the other with an award
Elaine is presented her award by the Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

“We’re not an official program – just six positions in NH,” she added, “but we’re connected to all the NSWOCs across BC and Canada. We work independently, and we collaborate with rehab, physicians, surgeons – all the other health professionals.”

The NSWOCs help train frontline nurses on assessing patients with complex wounds, ostomies, or continence issues, how to plan their care, and how to problem-solve when things aren’t going as expected. They also work on policy development to support consistent practice across the region and consult with other NSWOCs provincially to share both policy and practice learnings.

Elaine is the Chair of the interdisciplinary NH Skin, Wound, Ostomy, Continence Committee (SWOCC), focusing on collaboration, prevention, and standardizing best practice. She also sits on the Provincial Nursing Skin and Wound Committee, developing up-to-date standards and policies for British Columbia.

Humbled by the honour

Elaine was nominated by her team lead for the award with NNPBC, as recognition for the totality of her work in education. She is a highly respected nurse and educator whose passion for her work is tangible. Speaking of her as a role model for nurses and nurse educators, two of her colleagues also provided letters of support for the nomination. While she thought it was lovely to be nominated, she was very humble about being recognized and admits that she forgot about the nomination until she was notified that she had in fact won the award!

“It’s one thing for someone to acknowledge the work that you do, but to take time to gather and submit things – that’s pretty amazing! I need to do more of that myself, just recognizing the good work of others,” she said.

While in Vancouver to receive her award, Elaine was also profiled in a feature on CTV News. At the ceremony she was supported by some of her colleagues and was able to meet Minister of Health Adrian Dix, as well as Premier David Eby.

Land of opportunity

Woman smiling with view of two bridges and river in the background
Elaine shows off the local hiking views in Terrace. 

Elaine lives with her husband in Terrace, where she grew up and also raised three children. She takes advantage of the lifestyle offered there, getting outside and experiencing the local scenery whenever she can. She also values the career opportunities that have come along with living in the North.

“I have been so blessed to have those opportunities to work to my potential and create a position and do work that makes a difference on a bigger scale, health authority-wise and provincially,” she says.

We congratulate Elaine for her career achievements and for the special recognition this award has given her! Northern Health is honoured to have passionate and caring nurses like Elaine working to improve the quality of life for our patients.