Deborah McLeod

  BN 1982     MN 1992

The driving force behind Deborah McLeod’s practice as a nurse has always been the desire to make a difference. Whenever she felt the need to expand her role to make a bigger contribution, she returned to school to gain more knowledge, broaden her skill set and her vision. She says that this happened at least once a decade in her career. Dr. McLeod completed her diploma in nursing at the Victoria General Hospital School of Nursing and followed this with her BN and MN at Dalhousie. Her PhD in family systems nursing was obtained at the University of Calgary in 2003 where she was fortunate to study, and do clinical practica in the Family Nursing Unit, with Dr. Lorraine Wright and with Dr. Maureen Leahey at the Calgary Family Therapy Training Program.

After completing her PhD, Dr. MacLeod took a position as a clinician scientist at the QEII in Halifax in psychosocial oncology. The role of clinician scientist in nursing was the first such position in the province and one of very few in the country. Although psychosocial oncology was identified as an interprofessional practice within oncology specialties, it really was not open to nurses at the time. In order to specialize in that field, a strong background in mental health was needed and very few nurses with mental health background were practicing with populations who were also physically very ill. From then until the present day, this has been Dr. McLeod’s passion and focus, with 40% of her time in clinical as a member of a psychosocial oncology team, and 60% allocated to research and teaching.  In addition to her role as a clinician scientist at the QEII in cancer care, she holds appointments as Senior Scientist, Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Centre; Adjunct, School of Nursing, Dalhousie University and Adjunct Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary.

Dr. McLeod served for many years as a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology (CAPO), in various roles, including chairing the Education Committee, the Standards of Care revision committee, and as President from 2011-2013. Her research program includes studies on interprofessional, web-based education in psychosocial oncology which led to the development of the Interprofessional Psychosocial Oncology distance Education (IPODE) project. This innovative education program, through CAPO and 10 partner universities, has provided graduate students and health professionals across the country and internationally with opportunities to learn about this important aspect of oncology care. She has also focused on couples’ interventions for sexual rehabilitation, particularly in prostate cancer diagnoses, and most recently she has been leading a multi-site, knowledge translation project designed to improve the care that patients receive for symptoms of distress. She has received significant funding from national and provincial funding agencies as well as from private foundations for her research.

In recognition of her many contributions, Dr. McLeod has been recognized with several awards, particularly for education, innovation and leadership, including: the Cancer Care Nova Scotia Award of Excellence for Innovation (2011); the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology Award of Excellence for Education (2011); the Canadian Nurses Association Order of Merit for Nursing Education (2010); and the de Souza Institute Inspirational Nurse (2010).