In 2007, a post-doctoral opportunity at Bloomberg Nursing for Brazilian professor Dr. Maria Itayra Padilha transformed into an ongoing collaboration between the Faculty and Latin America. Her connection to the Faculty has facilitated the exchange of Brazilian doctoral students to Toronto and through Padilha’s Faculty, the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Dr. Sioban Nelson and Dr. Elizabeth Peter have spoken to colleagues at the Brazilian Congress of Nursing. An Adjunct Professor with the Bloomberg Nursing, Padilha has also played an instrumental role as an Academic Coordinator for a program which hosts scholars from Latin America and the Caribbean in Toronto each summer. This all came about after Padilha arrived in Toronto on a snowy January day with a goal to publish at least two articles in English during her year-long post-doctorate.
“My main focus of study is nursing history and after hearing about Dr. Sioban Nelson’s nursing history expertise, I knew I wanted to complete my post-doctorate under her supervision.” said Padilha.
A prior relationship with Dr. Denise Gastaldo facilitated an introduction with Nelson and an opportunity for Padilha to strengthen South America’s nursing history from a Brazilian perspective – a subject which she teaches at the undergraduate and graduate level since 1988.
“Brazil has a five-year undergraduate program with a strong emphasis on nursing history but until 2007 we didn’t have text which details Brazilian nursing history in a contemporaneous point of view or prepared to help professors and students to learn and like nursing history,” said Padilha. “In North America, there are over 100 publications on nursing history and I originally came to Toronto to address what Brazil needs to do to help our students connect with how our profession has progressed in our country.”
Through Nelson’s guidance, Padilha’s time at the Faculty resulted in three articles: Teaching nursing history: The Santa Catarina, Brazil, experience, published in Nursing Inquiry, Networks of Identity: The Potential of Biographical Studies for Teaching Nursing Identity, published in Nursing History Review, and Biographies as a possible path in the construction of a professional identity in the field of nursing (in Portuguese), published in História, Ciências, Saúde – Manguinhos. An unexpected benefit for Padilha being in Toronto was an opportunity to work with CAMH’s Office of Transformative Global Health in a joint project at CAMH-CICAD (Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission). They were starting a summer research program through the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH) for health care professionals in Latin America (and now the Caribbean) and asked if Padilha could take on the role of Academic Coordinator. Padilha has returned to Toronto throughout the summers from 2011 to 2013 on behalf of CICAD to coordinate the 10 students accepted to the program. These students, who are health care professionals in their home country, gain knowledge of Canadian research methods from experts in order to improve the health and wellbeing of those in Latin America. These experts have included Dr. Carles Muntaner, Dr. Denise Gastaldo and Dr. Sioban Nelson from Bloomberg Nursing who have participated as guest lecturers.
“Toronto is a perfect place for academic collaboration, and in my opinion, international programs,” said Padilha. “The city is easy to navigate and so accommodating to international students that it makes it much easier to focus on the work and learn a lot in the time that you’re here.”
As an Adjunct Professor at Bloomberg Nursing, Padilha will continue making international connections and developing strong collaborations. As an indirect result of the post-doctoral experience Padilha, and her research group in Nursing and Health History (GEHCES), organized a book Enfermagem – História de uma profissão (Nursing-The history of profession) in 2011, strengthening the case for providing dedicated resources to teaching relatable nursing history in South America. Back home in Brazil, Padilha continues her work as the editor at Text & Context Nursing Journal sponsored by the Graduate Nursing Program at Federal University of Santa Catarina, which publishes a special edition with articles from the CICAD student collaboration, and teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level.2 Three studies Mental Health in Kids and Teenagers in the Network of Psychological Attention, Nursing History and the Connections Between Caring, Teaching and Research – Analyses of HIV/AIDS History in Santa Catarina, Brazil and Health Care of Physical Disabilities in Santa Catarina – Reality and Challenges are due for completion within the next few years, yielding results that will draw interest from both Brazilian and Canadian academics.