As nurses, nursing students and nursing faculty in Canada, we are deeply disturbed by the SRNA’s treatment of Carolyn Strom and wish to show our solidarity.
On February 25, 2015, nurse Carolyn Strom, after having witnessed what she considers inadequate care for her dying grandfather, posted a critique on Facebook of the long-term care home in which he spent his final days. Even though she was evidently distraught by the passing of her loved one, she nevertheless managed to bring some constructive criticism and advice to the staff that cared for her grandfather. Instead of addressing the concerns cited in the post directly, the staff and management of the long-term care facility filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association (SRNA). This complaint was received, and after a trial that lasted over two years where nurse Strom was ‘laid into’ as per witnesses, she was found guilty of professional misconduct (1-2). The SRNA wishes to impose a 30,000$ penalty; 5000$ in fines and 25,000$ to cover the cost of their investigations. This harsh penalty, according to the SRNA lawyer, serves to “ drive home” the message that nurses cannot publicly criticize their profession (3).
This last statement touches the core of the issue. Nurses are healthcare professionals and as such are rightfully held to high standards. They should always act in the best interest of the people they care for. But those standards should NOT include self-censorship and renouncing their right to speak-up.
Despite widespread outrage at the treatment of Carolyn Strom, including a petition signed by nearly 600 supporters asking the SRNA to reverse its decision (4), the SRNA has refused to even discuss the case with nurses or students (5-6).
Nurse Carolyn Strom has spent two years travelling hundreds of miles to attend her disciplinary hearings which were held hours away from her place of residence. The financial and physical toll this ordeal has taken on her is excruciating. Furthermore, her penalty hearing is coming to a close, and it is likely the SRNA will succeed in imposing the 30,000$ penalty.
The SRNA decision is setting a precedent for nurses across Canada. Nurses must not be muzzled! Let nurses speak!
Marilou Gagnon, RN, PhD, Ottawa, Ont.
Amélie Perron, RN, PhD, Ottawa, Ont.
Damien Contandripoulos, PhD, Montreal, Qc.
Natalie Stake-Doucet, RN, Montreal, Qc.
Emilie Hudson, RN, Montreal, Qc.
Caroline Dufour, RN, Ottawa, Ont.
Jaimie Carrier, RN, Dalhousie, NS.
Sophie Pomerleau, RN, PhD(c) Qc.
Anne Lardeux, MSc, Montreal, Qc
Please show your solidarity by donating (HERE) and/or write to the SRNA and sign the petition to express your opinion on this matter. All the funds we raise will be sent to our colleague Carolyn Strom.
1- Transcript of discipline decision
2- National Post article
3- Toronto Sun article
4- Online petition
6- Letter to SRNA from nursing students