Skip to content
Aggie Black headshot
Teaching and Training

Aggie Black recognized as the 2024 recipient of CCHL Nursing Leadership Award

by St. Paul's Foundation


Originally written by Becky Palmer, chief & VP, People, Nursing and Health Professions Officer at Providence Health Care

As you will see in the examples below, Aggie Black’s leadership demonstrates her work to advance nursing at all levels, her development of initiatives that remove barriers between providers and promote interdisciplinary collaboration, and her tireless efforts to build systems of quality care for patients and families.

Aggie has worked at Providence Health Care (PHC) since 2010 where she joined the organization initially as a Nursing Research Facilitator, then a Research Leader for Professional Practice, and now as the Director, Health Services & Clinical Research & Knowledge Translation, a role she has held since 2017. She expertly role models leadership, innovation, advancing quality care, and nursing at all levels, not only within our organization but beyond, making lasting impacts regionally, provincially and nationally.

Under Aggie’s strategic leadership PHC established an interdisciplinary Practice-Based Research Challenge in 2011. Her goals were to involve point- of-care staff in accessible practice-close research and evaluation projects that would lead to timely translation of research evidence into clinical practice. This Research Challenge was the first of its kind in our province. In its first twelve years, over 800 clinicians have participated, increasing their knowledge of research methods, and positively impacting patient/resident care through the outcomes achieved through their projects. The diversity of projects through the years are a reflection of the interdisciplinary teams that have been involved, including nurses, dieticians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers, respiratory therapists, speech language pathologists, physicians, spiritual care workers, psychologists, and pharmacists. Demonstrating her strong commitment to person and family centered care and patient-oriented research, Aggie ensured patient and family partners were engaged early on as team members in the Research Challenge, and as members of the Research Challenge Advisory Committee. Research Challenge teams benefit from the lived experience of their patient and family partners, and bring their own clinical knowledge to their projects, resulting in changes to clinical practice that are meaningful for staff, patients, residents and families.

There are many examples of Research Challenge projects that have led to impactful changes to practice in our organization whether you are a patient in our Heart Centre, the provincial Hemophilia Clinic, or attending our Foundry Clinic, where staff engaged in a Research Challenge project aimed at improving take-home naloxone kits and education to treat opioid overdose. A recent Research Challenge project led by dieticians found that 59% of the time the dietician changed admission diet orders to more therapeutic regimes. Delays in changing diets occurred because of waiting for physician approval, and led to suboptimal nutritional intake, exacerbation of malnutrition and patient dissatisfaction. Using the results of their research study, the dietitians worked within PHC to achieve a scope change that now allows dietitians to change diet orders, thus reducing the delay in providing patients/residents/clients with the most appropriate diet order and improving nutrition for patients.

The positive impact of the Research Challenge has resulted in three other health authorities in BC, and the province of Alberta, replicating the program. Aggie is a sought after collaborator as these organizations move forward with their initiatives. The Research Challenge program has been positively evaluated, and Aggie has published numerous peer-reviewed papers on the program. The Research Challenge program has won three health care awards, and individual teams have also been awarded for their innovative projects and patient care improvements. Throughout all of this, Aggie has also served as a tremendous leader and mentor to advancing this important work.

In 2017, Aggie created a sister initiative, called the Knowledge Translation Challenge (known as the KT Challenge), developed with regional health care partners. Similar to the Research Challenge, the KT Challenge offers training, mentorship and funding, with a focus on developing implementation skills to support the uptake of evidence-based practices. Interest in the KT Challenge has been impressive with nearly 300 participants from many disciplines working on diverse projects, including implementation of depression screening in the cardiac program, improving harm reduction practices in our Mental Health program, and increasing malnutrition screening for hospitalized patients. Evaluation of this program has also showed strong improvements in knowledge, confidence, and ability post project. One KT Challenge participant notes:

“It is a great learning experience and I feel privileged to be in such a position to help evolve clinical practice.”

Aggie Black

These two initiatives are great opportunities for professional development and incorporating research and evidence-based practice throughout the organization, encouraging innovation and leading to improved clinical practices. They have also led to numerous presentations, publications, and even external funding for continued research. In our current health care climate of fatigue and burnout these programs are truly a source of lifeblood for our clinicians and partners – they are important tools to promote resiliency, retention and recruitment.​

Aggie is a visionary leader who is building off the success of the Research Challenge and the KT Challenge. She has been instrumental in creating a new vision for nursing and allied health research at our organization as she co-develops CREST (PHC’s Centre for Research Training for Nursing and Allied Health Professionals). PHC has world class research centres but none that are dedicated to capturing the unique perspectives of nursing and allied health clinicians. The aim of CREST is to support the development of research-involved clinicians and clinician-scientists by providing training, infrastructure and sustained funding to advance their clinical and research careers.

Aggie’s interests go beyond her current responsibilities and she has supported PHC in work related to Indigenous wellness and reconciliation through these projects:

1. She co-led a Listening Circle in 2018, in collaboration with the Indigenous Wellness Team, to hear from Indigenous patients and families about their experiences of care, and their suggestions for improvements in their care at PHC;

2. She supervised a Master’s student project that explored perspectives of Indigenous staff at PHC, including suggestions for how we might improve as a workplace that seeks to retain and recruit Indigenous health care staff;

3. She was a key supporter of the creation of two new Advanced Practice Nursing roles at PHC: the Clinical Nurse Specialist in Indigenous Wellness and the Professor of Indigenous Cultural Safety & Nursing. Both of these roles are unique in the province if not the country.

Aggie is also one of the facilitators of PHC’s Environmental Stewardship Team, helping lead PHC’s work on sustainability and meeting our climate change goals. She is active in the Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment and works to encourage other nurses to advocate for planetary health. She was accepted to present her climate advocacy work at the 2023 International Council of Nurses Congress in Montreal, and recently won a special recognition award for planetary health from the Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC.

This so far has shown her profound impact within and beyond the walls of our organization. In addition to this exemplary innovative work, it is worth mentioning her 10-year commitment to advocating for nurses at all levels as a board member for BC’s nursing professional association (Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC), her role as Adjunct Professor at the School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia where she guest lectures to students in the BSN, MSN, and PhD programs, as well as supervising and mentoring graduate nursing students.

The success Aggie has had to date is not just because she is a transformative leader. It has also to do with who she is as a person. The following quote is from a Clinical Nurse Specialist in our Mental Health Program, and I think it captures her perfectly:

“Aggie is equal parts caring and competent. She leads from a place of possibility and has supported countless nurses in conducting practice-relevant research to the benefit of patients, care teams, and health systems. We need more leaders like Aggie who are unwavering in their commitment to creating opportunities for others.”

Clinical Nurse Specialist about Aggie Black

Please join us in congratulating Aggie for her amazing work and continued success as a leader and innovator!

Learn more about the teaching and training initiatives at St. Paul’s Hospital. Your support will help St. Paul’s continue to be the go-to organization for nursing and allied health research.