May 12, 2022

Nurses take innovation beyond the bedside

Business startups offer new services: supporting parents during key transition periods, guiding nurses through career challenges, and more
Julia Imanoff
Julia Imanoff

For two members of the Faculty of Nursing, transforming a passion for nursing into innovation and entrepreneurship has allowed them to start something truly special in their communities.

In celebration of National Nursing Week, May 9-15, the faculty turns the spotlight on PhD candidate Julia Imanoff, MN’16, and instructor Zenaida Boerhave, GCert’20.

Julia Imanoff

Imanoff is the co-founder of COLO Families, an enterprise that provides childbirth and parenting programs designed for the modern busy parent.

“It stemmed from the desire to support new parents through those really hard transition periods, like arriving home and not really knowing what to do with your baby and struggling with the ups and downs of those transitions,” says Imanoff.

The creation of COLO (which stands for the company values of COnnect, pLay and grOw) was inspired by what Imanoff identifies was a gap in services available to new parents. Unlike other enterprises in the parent-coaching space that often offer specified services, COLO has been designed to offer professional support through multiple phases of parenthood, from labour to toddler tantrums.

We're trying to offer parents a one-stop shop for education and supportive programs where we wrap parents in a blanket of continued support from pregnancy through the ongoing challenges of early years.

Imanoff is a licensed advanced practice nurse in the province of Alberta and holds a certification in perinatal nursing from the Canadian Nurses Association.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, COLO was designed to provide in-person and community-based services to families, but it has since pivoted to offering services virtually. Today, COLO focuses primarily on childbirth education because that is where most soon-to-be parents begin to look for support.

“From our evaluations, we've received some very positive feedback where parents feel more prepared and confident in their parenting journey after going through our programs,” says Imanoff. “Specifically, our families are deeply appreciative for being able to have access to a registered nurse — a qualified professional — live, rather than just having information presented from an online course.” 

Listen to Imanoff's UCalgary Mindfulness podcast.

Supporting Alberta's perinatal population

COLO has worked with dozens of families thus far and will continue to support the perinatal population in Calgary and across Alberta.

Imanoff is now in her third year of her doctoral studies, during which she is exploring women’s experience of psychological birth trauma. In combination with her doctoral work, Imanoff has advanced training in perinatal mood disorders and psychotherapy from Postpartum Support International and is currently completing a certificate in couples and family therapy through UCalgary’s Faculty of Social Work.

Her studies are directly related to a new service Imanoff has founded this year, The Family Nurse, set to launch in September. Imanoff hopes to support parents through affordable counselling services around topics of sleep, relationships and perinatal mood disorders.  

Zenaida Boerhave

Zenaida Boerhave

Zenaida Boerhave

Boerhave is the founder of Empowered Nurse Consulting (ENC), which provides students and practicing nurses with guidance and support through career challenges.

“I’ve unfortunately stumbled upon many students in my career that have considered quitting nursing school,” she says. “Some were told that they were not meant to be a nurse (or are) in the wrong profession altogether. Student nurses should not have to go through that.” 

As an instructor in the Faculty of Nursing, Boerhave has seen students and recent graduates struggle to navigate the beginning of their nursing careers. As an experienced professional with an incredible passion for nursing, ENC is her solution to this problem.

Student nurses and recent graduates are trying to navigate their way through. I give them the tools that they need if they are struggling or feeling anxious in the clinical setting, and this, in turn, helps to improve their confidence.

Providing students and recent graduates with guidance and support eases their transition into clinical practice, prevents early burnout and allows them the opportunity to figure out what avenue of nursing is the right fit. The inspiration behind ENC may have come from Boerhave’s experience as an instructor, but the enterprise works with nurses during all stages of their career to help reignite their feelings of passion and purpose.

Be the best nurse they can be

“Empowered Nurse Consulting aims to empower the individual, so they thrive instead of just survive,” she says. “I want each nurse to feel fulfilled and passionate about their career. I want them to be the best nurse they can be.”

In addition to her work with ENC, Boerhave is now working with local secondary schools to provide students with education on substance-abuse disorders, with hopes to create more awareness and compassion for those suffering from addiction.