Dec. 16, 2019

Doctoral student a true nursing rising star

50 Faces of Nursing: Julia Imanoff, MN'16

Julia Imanoff has an ambitious goal: to help humanity flourish through human connections. As a labour and delivery nurse, she was proud to assist families during the challenges of childbirth and the moments that followed. She brought that clinical expertise to her role as a UCalgary Nursing instructor during undergraduate perinatal and community rotations.

“Through these experiences, I came to appreciate how community supports, education and capacity building can foster resilience,” says the now doctoral student. “As a society, we need to promote resilience by fostering healthy childhood experiences to improve population health.”

Imanoff has been recognized for her work with several nominations and awards: as a Rising Star by the Canadian Association of Perinatal and Women's Health Nurses (CAPWHN) in 2012 and, in 2018, recipient of CAPWHN’s Excellence in Leadership award; and a nomination for CARNA’s Excellence in Education award. Nominator Nancy Moules says Imanoff has and continues to put much into the faculty, representing the university in stellar fashion through her various roles.

“As she pursues her doctorate degree with Dr. Graham McCaffrey as her supervisor, we expect to see her ‘rising star’ qualities in full light!” adds Moules.

50 Faces of Nursing: Julia Imanoff, MN'16

50 Faces of Nursing: Julia Imanoff, MN'16

Tell us about the work you do and what drives you to do it.

"I have recently founded and launched a social enterprise to support peoples’ transition into parenthood to promote healthy, family-focused child development.  Although still in its early stages, Connect, Play, Grow (COLO), has grown into a collaboration of like-minded and spirited nurses who believe that nursing care can make all the difference to new families. I have also worked within education and research with a focus on promoting healthy developmental environments for fetal/infant development, maternal mental health conditions, and birth modalities.  

My doctoral research, for example, explores the family experience of psychological birth trauma and the subsequent impact on parent-child and family relationships. What drives me is the idea of being the change you want to see in the world. It is easy to find a problem. It is much more challenging to create a solution, especially one with a sustainable impact."

Share a memorable experience you had at UCalgary Nursing and why it's significant in your life or career.

"When I first came to the Faculty of Nursing for my Master of Nursing program, I found it refreshing to be immersed in classroom discussions with colleagues about the current issues we saw in practice and how we were challenged to shift our thinking around causes, contributing factors and broader organizational, social and cultural influences.

Margo Galvon, an NP I was working with for my practicum course, also highlighted this shift when she said to me, ‘advanced practice nursing isn’t just about expanding your scope of practice; it is about adding breadth and depth to your perspective.’ It is this way of thinking about the ‘big picture’ that I try to carry through in my current practice, teaching, and research."

What most excites you about the future of nursing or changes coming in the profession?

"The role of the registered nurse has been expanding and shifting to include a broader scope and more diverse areas of practice. What excites me about these changes is that nursing has become situated as the keystone - the centre point - for individuals and families to access quality, evidenced health-care services.

These shifts also mean that registered nurses are well situated to take on clinical and research leadership positions, which I think is what we have seen highlighted in many of the 50 Faces of Nursing."

Is there a nursing issue you are especially passionate about or you would like to change?

"I am passionate about the future of nurse leaders. There has been a lot of significant momentum in promoting and fostering effective leadership attributes within our profession. Just look at Amy Deagle’s work as the founder of the International Network of Nurse Leaders (INNL) or our new Stackable MN Certificate program with a study stream of Leadership for Health System Transformation.  

I have worked to introduce leadership as a clinical competency in the perinatal clinical rotation by trialing a 'team-lead' role where the students were able to reflect on their leadership style meaningfully with their colleagues during a post-clinical debrief. This role has been the topic of conversation for how we can continue to integrate leadership opportunities across our undergraduate curriculum, a conversation I hope to continue!"

What piece of advice would you like to share with aspiring nurses?

"Ask questions. There is so much we can learn about others, ourselves, and the world if we start with a curious disposition.

Take the time to ask questions during your education to learn from the experiences of others. Take the time to ask questions of your patients; their responses may surprise you. And take the time to ask research questions; that is how we generate new nursing knowledge to improve patient care and outcomes."

Is there one luxury in life you would rather not live without?

"Time to enjoy being outdoors (hiking, camping, paddling) with my family is one luxury I wouldn't give up. Those moments are made even more precious as my husband (Andrey) and I are able to share our love of nature with our two boys!"


All through 2019, we've highlighted 50 Faces of Nursing, profiling nursing members in celebration of our 50th anniversary. For more, visit