In Memoriam: Amy Bender

11 March 2019

The Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing is sad to report that Dr. Amy Bender, alumna and Assistant Professor, passed away on March 9, 2019, in Toronto, Ontario.

From Amy’s obituary:

Amy studied, practised and taught nursing. Throughout her career, she was dedicated simultaneously to her academic pursuits as well as nursing practice in the field of mental health, clinical instruction and lecturing, volunteering and mentoring. Amy’s research, writing and published work resulted in numerous professional presentations at conferences and workshops.

Amy’s career began in 1984 with a Diploma in Nursing, Conestoga College. She honed her skills as a mental health clinician and case manager with Certificates in Psychiatric Nursing, Durham College, 1991, Critical Incident Stress Management, Toronto Public Health, 2001, and Brief Therapy Externship, Hincks-Dellarest Institute, Toronto, 2002. Amy earned a BSc in Nursing, Ryerson University, 1997, a Masters in Nursing, University of Calgary, 1999, and a PhD in Nursing, University of Toronto, 2009. Since then, she was an Assistant Professor, Lawrence Bloomberg, Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto.

Amy joked that the chronology of her education was a bit unorthodox, declaring that she wanted to ‘live’, work, and have some fun! She certainly did this, exemplified wonderfully by her extensive work and travel experiences.

Amy had a deeply held conviction that improving nursing health education globally is both an obligation and a necessity. This conviction became an opportunity when she began participating in the work of the Toronto Addis Ababa Academic Colllaboration (TAAAC) in Ethiopia. Her role as the Program Coordinator, Nursing, from 2006 – 2015, included contributions to program development in the Department of Nursing, Addis Ababa University; and, the Psychiatric Nursing Diploma Program at Amanuel Mental Health Hospital, Addis Ababa. Alongside these instrumental responsibilities, she mentored students who accompanied her. Eleven trips to Ethiopia fuelled a love and understanding of its culture, and a respect for the colleagues, visionaries and friends with whom she interacted. These moments inspired and renewed her energy for the challenge and the task of nursing education.

Amy said that becoming a patient herself helped her understand nursing on a whole new level. She was eager to add those insights, and interpretations, to her classroom discussion when she returned to her students for a brief time after her surgery. Throughout treatment, Amy consistently critiqued and articulated her observations, while ever-conscious and humbly grateful for our healthcare system. She also fiercely embraced a holistic approach to her wellbeing. The care and compassionate professionalism of nurses, doctors, therapists and practitioners with whom she interacted throughout her journey were sources of reflection and tremendous gratitude.

In lieu of flowers, donations to Kensington Hospice or Wellspring Downtown Toronto are welcome.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday March 23rd at 1:30 p.m. at St Matthews United Church (729 St Clair Ave W, Toronto).

All of us here at Bloomberg Nursing share in this time of grief but also share in the many memories made with Amy. She will be missed.