Eric Staples an advanced practice nursing (APN) consultant, has a unique passion for the role of APN in changing the quality of care provided to patients across all sectors of the health system. As a donor and mentor, he continues to give back to the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing because he believes the faculty is the one educational institution in Canada, committed to advancing the role of nurse practitioners (NPs) at the master’s and doctoral level.
“Bloomberg Nursing at the University of Toronto has an entire suite of nurse practitioner programs, with emphases in the areas of adult health, pediatrics, and global health,” says Staples. “I feel a personal responsibility to give back because the NP role is something I have been involved in shaping in this country, and before I leave this planet, I want to see the role expand even further.”
Through his annual giving contributions, Staples has created the Staples Family Graduate Student Award in Nursing for a NP student and the Staples Family Graduate Student Award in Nursing – DN for a student enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing (DN) program. In addition to his donor funding, Staples is also actively involved in the Bloomberg Nursing community as a mentor for the Alumni-Graduate Student Mentorship Program. For Staples, being able to provide guidance and advice to the next generation of APNs on everything from work/life balance to excelling in their careers, is something he sees as part of an innate desire to connect and give back.
“I’m just one of those people who likes giving back. I have loved the experience of the mentorship program, because of the opportunities it has given me to connect and build lasting friendships with some of the exceptional students who come through this program,” says Staples.
For most of his career as a nurse, Staples has been attuned to the advancement of the NP role and its essential purpose in providing good quality patient care. Following the completion of his master’s degree, Staples was working as an oncology nurse at a major Toronto area hospital in the early 1990’s when he realized that most of the oncology services being provided were not patient-centered.
The care being provided was described by Staples as hit and miss, with chemotherapy being administered at one or two in the morning, leaving patients sick all night. Pain management was not being taught in medicine at the time, and there was only one nurse working the outpatient chemotherapy clinic.
“It was overall just poor-quality patient care,” recalls Staples. “I knew an NP role was needed.”
Staples made a proposal to the medical advisory committee to act as an NP in the unit and was successful. He started making changes, including getting nurses on the oncology unit certified in chemotherapy administration, implementing primary care with the nurse manager, and expanding supportive care services including using trained volunteers who were able to visit with patients.
Since that time, Staples has gone on to create NP programs at Dalhousie University and assist with the collaborative NP program at the University of Regina. He is a founding member of the Palliative Care Association of Canada, and is editor of Canadian Perspectives on Advanced Practice Nursing (2nd Ed.), which is the only textbook in Canada related to the APN roles of the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) and NP within the health care system. The textbook has been adopted in NP and graduate programs across Canada. In October 2022, in recognition of his efforts and dedication to the NP role, Staples was made a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Nursing.
“Nursing has been a part of my life since the age of two, following in the footsteps of my mother and my aunt, who were not only nurses but nurse educators,” says Staples. “To be able to dedicate so much of my life to not only caring for patients but shaping the next generation of nurses is a privilege, and I look forward to continuing to play a role in health transformation in the health system.”